Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running backs Lance Dunbar (25) and Phillip Tanner talk before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys' ground game stalled


All off season long, fans of the Dallas Cowboys have heard about the importance of the running game and how necessary it was for a successful season. Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett handed over play calling duties to Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan, who is perceived as a play caller dedicated to the run. They used their first pick in the draft on center Travis Frederick, to bolster the strength on the offensive line. They used the fifth pick in the draft to get former Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle to join other Cowboy running backs Demarco Murray, Phillip Tanner, and Lance Dunbar to form an explosive tandem. Yet, with all the changes, so far the results on the field have been sub par at best.

Aug 9, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle (35) dives for a touchdown during the fourth quarter at O.Co Coliseum. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Dallas Cowboys 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from one great game in the first preseason game, the Cowboys continue to struggle running the ball. The team currently is ranked 15th in the NFL, averaging 109.5 rushing yards a game. That is only helped because of some decent runs done by Murray and Randle in the 1st preseason game. Randle is averaging 3.7 yards per attempt while Murray is averaging 3.8 yards per attempt. That isn’t going to cut it from two players expected to be your main workhorses.

The backups are stepping up and they have the stats to prove it. With little reps, Lance Dunbar has 5.8 yards per attempt and Phillip Tanner is averaging 4.0 yards per attempts. Tanner has been the biggest surprise as he continues to show the coaching staff more examples of his hard running style.

But overall, the group doesn’t look as impressive as the numbers suggest. The eye test tells you that they get stopped at the line of scrimmage far more than they bust out on an open run.

The main culprit to the stagnant rushing attack is right in front of our eyes. It is the poor play of the offensive line. With Ronald Leary out with a knee injury, the reshuffled line is still struggling to open up the necessary holes for the backs to make any impact.

The good news is that the coaches are not abandoning the run so far and are keep going back to it no matter what the results are. The hope is they continue to stay with this strategy in the regular season and the offensive line gets back into a groove.

The last time the Cowboys rushing attack was ranked in the top ten was 2009. That happened to be the last time the Cowboys also made the playoffs. The running game is a necessary step in order for this team to find success.

If they can’t get the running game going, look for another horrible year for America’s Team.

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Tags: Bill Callahan Cowboys Dallas Cowboys Defense DeMarco Murray Footbal Ground Game Jason Garrett Joseph Randle Lance Dunbar NFC East NFL Offense Phillip Tanner Playoffs Running Back Running Game Rushing Attack Tony Romo

  • bgwill

    Not really worried about the run game now, once Dez and company start torching the secondary, that will open up the run game.

  • Jazzin

    3 OUT OF THE LAST 4 SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS HAVE FINISHED DEAD LAST IN RUSHING!
    So tell me,
    how did you come to his conclusion ?

    • Hank

      Bravo. Great analysis.

      • Mike

        How was that great analysis? The article isn’t saying you need the best rushing attack to win and its different for every team. For the Cowboys to win, their rushing attack needs to be better to balance the offense.

        • Hank

          Bravo. Great analysis.