Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs the ball in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT
What is it that the Cowboys do as well or better than everybody else?The cynical answer may be “finish 8-8” or “tease everyone with the hopes of prosperity only to play Lucy to their fan’s Charlie Brown.”
(insert laughs here…)
Truth is… the answer is nothing, which is exactly why this franchise is stuck in the mud. Think about it. The final four teams fighting for an opportunity to play for a Super Bowl all have clear identities. Seattle and San Francisco rely on top-notch defenses and relentless running games. If you make either team beat you throwing the ball, your chances of winning increase exponentially. Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have combined for four 300+ yard passing performances in two years. That’s not what they do… and that’s fine because they win and they stay true to their identity.
Denver and New England rely on their historically great quarterbacks to control their offenses and shorten the games for their defenses. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are no brainer, first ballot Hall of Famers who in a sense, are “game managers.” Each controls the game by always getting their offenses in a position to be successful, get some kind of points and in the process, their stats reflect it. Since 2008, a Manning or Brady led team has finished in the top five of passing yards and in three of the past four years, both quarterbacks have been the leader of a top five scoring offense. The only time this didn’t occur, Peyton Manning missed the entire year due to injury.
So, what does Dallas do well? They do not have a punishing running attack that is consistent. They do not have a suffocating defense. They do not dominate other teams with a constant aerial attack or light up the scoreboard like it’s a video game. It seems like each year, there is one aspect that the Cowboys do excel in but it changes every year. That does not go a long way towards breeding consistency.
Think about it. Marshawn Lynch has 15 games in the last two seasons that he has eclipsed 20+ carries. Frank Gore has eleven. DeMarco has six. Seattle is 12-3 in those games. San Francisco is 9-1-1. The Cowboys are 6-0.
For the Cowboys to get over the hump and start being a team that people talk about for the right reasons, the Cowboys need to find an identity and stick with it. If you’re going to be a passing team, then commit to that and be the best there is. If you’re going to be a power running team, then give your running back 20+ carries every game and dominate time of possession. Don’t get me wrong, balance is good and it sounds like a wonderful idea… but balance to the teams that are truly successful means IF they need to do something besides what they do best they can for a short time until they can get back to what they really do.
Dallas has an elite quarterback, one of the best wide receivers and one of the best tight ends in the game. Maybe it’s time to be a power running team that relies on Romo, Bryant and Witten to get the third downs to keep the chains moving or take a big swing after the continual body blows delivered by the offensive line and the running game. Not only would that give the defense less time to be exposed, it may just give the Cowboys an identity they have lacked for a long time.