Whose To Blame For Dallas Running Woes

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I wanted to figure out who was to ultimately blame for the poor rushing performance for the Dallas Cowboys this season: Coaching, Offensive Line play, or RB DeMarco Murray. So I decided to catalog every run for the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. I watched each run numerous times, breaking and analyzing each run frame by frame. Here is each of the 13 runs by Dallas on Sunday.

First Quarter

First run: 8:13- 1st and 10 on own 20

A stretch play (where the lineman slant to one side) to the right with the lineman. RT Doug Free stretches too far right allowing the KC LB to shoot the gap and take Murray down. Result: –3 yards. Blame: Offensive Line (OL)

Second run: 7:07- 1st and 10 on KC 29

Sep 15, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) is pushed out of bounds by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) during the second half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A stretch left this time. Center Travis Frederick engages the NT initially with RG Mackenzy Bernadeau coming to double. Frederick stays with the double for a half-second too long preventing him to get to the second level and block the LB. The LB is able to hit Murray in the backfield. Result: 1 yard. Blame: OL

Third run: 3:56- 1st and 10 on own 45

The line establishes the line of scrimmage (LOS), and Murray is able to hit the hole. Result: 5 yards. Blame: None

Fourth run: 3:25- 2nd and 5 on the 50

With a run off tackle, LT Tyron Smith and LG Ron Leary are asked to swing outside which both do beautifully. Murray breaks an arm tackle. Result: 5 yards. Blame: None

Fifth run: 1:27- 2nd and Goal on KC 1

Goal line formation with OG David Arkin lined up in the backfield playing FB. Interior of line gets beat right of the snap, but Arkin is able to set the edge on the right. Murray decides to take the ball inside instead of following Arkin’s block on the outside and he gets stuffed. If Murray followed Arkin, it would have been a walk in TD. Only thing film does not show is play design. It could be Murray’s fault for not bouncing it outside, or it could be Arkin’s fault for not knowing his assignment because of the unfamiliarity with the position. Result: -1 yard. Blame: Murray (needs to see play development better).

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  • BradAustin

    Lack of correct personnel to run a multi-TE offense as your base and only option. All 3 guys are receiving TE’s. Witten can’t make the jump in the backfield to lead block on short-yardage for strategy reasons. Hannah and Escobar are not even average blockers on the line, much less for lead blocking. So where is the guy? Nowhere.

    In the multi-TE design, you’re not dropping the FB altogether, you’re just re-assigning a TE to handle his job when the formation calls for it. Not a one of these guys can remotely function as a FB. They knew it. They were hoping Rosario could handle it. He couldn’t so they just said “oh well, let’s go as is”. Guess what, our running game blows again. Wonder why. They know why, they ignored it and continue to do so hoping it will improve AS IS. Same old, same old.

    • Damon Bailey Smith

      Lack of a FB is definitely hurting them. I hated when last year they got rid of Tony Fiametta because of te chemistry him and Murray had. This was more of an assessment of what went wrong during the game and not making poor personnel decisions but I completely agree. Much of the problem stems from not having the right personnel aka a true FB

  • BradAustin

    It related to the specific game by limiting options in short-yardage and redzone play-calling. The series where we ended with with a 3rd and 8 quick swing pass to Terrance Williams that had no shot. With the right personnel that series would’ve had a FB set on 1st and 2nd down. However, with the sets we are running to our lack of power blocker, our offense is highly predictable. Defenses can focus on pass coverage much more as they know the front 7 will handle the run by themselves.

    I agree, we were more than able financially to keep Fiametta and still add the cute draft pics JJ wanted. Eliminating the FB spot without knowing who could handle lead blocking was jumping the gun and the effects showed against the Chiefs. The only real shot you have against a power defensive front 7 like that is to have a lead blocker that can pound open a lane. We don’t and it will show up time and again in each individual game.

    Nice article, btw. Enjoy your day.

    • Damon Bailey Smith

      Thanks for the insightful comments. It’s just crazy to think that a few years ago Garrett was so committed to having a FB they drafted Chapas and now they have completely eliminated the position. I would like to go get John Conner. Watching hard knocks proved how great of a lead blocker he is and like you pointed out, that’s what dallas needs. A hard nose mauler to run in front of murray

  • ctcowboy1968

    Really nice analysis. Need to run more. Less stretch plays. More traps. Get the interior 3 to develop an attitude and bull straight ahead (though this is best done with a FB). Personally are not being used right give the situation on the field. Williams is not a red zone guy. Red zone is for proven players. Dez, Miles, Witten and maybe Escobar since he was drafted for the red zone.

    • Damon Bailey Smith

      Dez should get at least one jump each time the cowboys are in a goal-to-go situation and they way he was abusing Flowers they shoulda thrown a jump ball on first second and third down that series. Te screen to Williams was sickening with talent like Dez, Miles and Witten
      Running the ball more effectively down there would be nice too

  • Jack

    Regards run 5, OG Arkin#62, Was Inactive Vs KC. He Played Very Well Preseason, Fast, Smart And Strong. Maybe The Running Game Would Be Better If He Started.

    • Damon Bailey Smith

      My apologies. After looking at it again I thought it was 62 when it was actually 67 OC Phil Costa. Thanks for the correction