As the stats from the 2013 season reflect, Dallas has a long way to go defensively if they are to make a serious playoff run in 2014. Interestingly enough, though, the Cowboys efforts to improve in one particular facet of their offense could contribute greatly to them keeping opponents off the field and, subsequently, out of the end zone. The performance of DeMarco Murray, his staying healthy and the Cowboys ability to create holes for him will go a long way in determining how Dallas fares in 2014.
The main cog in the Cowboys running wheel is already in place with the aforementioned Murray. While he has proven he is a talented running back that is deserving of a starting role, his biggest hurdle to date has been his battle with the injury bug. In his rookie season Murray went into the week seven match up against the St. Louis Rams as the #2 back on the Cowboys depth chart and ended the day with a record-breaking 253 yards on 25 carries. He continued to impress until an ankle injury put him on the IR for the end of that season…and so it began.
Lance Dunbar figures to be the odds on favorite to fill the backup spot going into training camp. However Joseph Randle, Ben Malena, Glasco Martin and newly signed Ryan Williams will make the battle for backup interesting. Williams, who was cut by the Arizona Cardinals, had injury problems of his own for the Cards. He caught the eye of the Cowboys, though, and quickly found a new home in Big D.
The Cowboy have addressed their offensive line problems by selecting lineman early in three out of the last four drafts. The addition of Zack Martin will most likely continue that progress. The biggest news for the Cowboys blocking efforts might come with the addition of a fullback to their roster. Largely a forgotten element in today’s high-flying offenses, the fullback position can be an integral part of a successful running attack…aka Daryl “Moose” Johnston. Even Emmitt Smith himself will tell you that the blocking abilities of Johnston cannot be overstated when talking about his success. If either Tyler Clutts or J.C. Copeland make the final cut, maybe they will be the final piece of the Cowboys backfield puzzle.
The improvement of the Cowboys ground game is vital to their success in 2014. If Dallas can find a way to keep Murray on the field for the entire season and create running lanes for him, maybe they can overcome the 8-8 hump and bring the NFC East title back to Dallas where it belongs.