Will The Dallas Cowboys Be Forced To Pass More In 2015?


One of the reasons the Dallas Cowboys were so successful last season was because of their ability to run the football. Second in the NFL in rushing yardage last season, the Cowboys had an undefeated road record during the regular season, and made their first playoff appearance since 2009.

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But after losing their starting running back to free agency this offseason, will Dallas once again turn into the pass heavy offense they were during their three previous mediocre 8-8 seasons?

Although we’d all like to believe that this team has seen the light when it comes to the benefits of committing to a solid running game, one national media analyst believes Dallas will turn to starting quarterback Tony Romo once again with an unsure rotation of running back currently in place.

"“There’s always some movement among veteran backs, Stephen Jackson types, etc., but don’t get excited about any of those,” Dallas Morning News staff columnist Tim Cowlishaw responded to a reader’s question about the possibility that the Cowboys could bring in another veteran runner into the mix this offseason. “The Cowboys are much more likely to go with what they have. Expect Randle to be the lead back and McFadden to get some work. It won’t be as effective as last year no matter what. This will be more of a passing team again.”"

The idea that the Cowboys could turn pass happy again is a scary thought. In 2013, the Cowboys passing offense was ranked 14th in the NFL. Their rushing offense? A lowly 24th. And their defense was the worst in the NFL that season, and the worst in franchise history. Dallas finished the year at 8-8 for the third time in a row and out of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

A renewed commitment to the running game is what turned this team around in 2014. Having the most dominate and talented offensive line in the league didn’t hurt either. Still, it was the running game that took pressure off of Romo and this Cowboys defense. And both flourished because of it.

Romo led the NFL in completion percentage (69.9%) and passer rating (113.2) in 2014. While the Cowboys defense jumped from last place to 19th overall, as Dallas’ successful running game kept their defenders off-the-field as much as possible.

Rushing the ball 508 times last season while averaging 147.1 yards on the ground per game led the Cowboys to a 12-4 regular season-ending record in 2014. Could changing that formula mean a step backwards for Dallas this upcoming season?

The Cowboys rode former starter DeMarco Murray into the ground last season, turning to him a league-leading 392 times. That’s 80 more carries then the next closest running back.

After Murray finally paid off for the Cowboys after three injury plagued season, Dallas promptly ran him out of town and into the arms of their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.

I personally agree with the Cowboys opting not to overpay Murray. But it is a gamble that could result in Dallas destroying their only chance to reach the Super Bowl with Romo under center.

The Cowboys are betting any running back worth his salt can run behind this offensive line. I think it’s a good bet. Still, there is an element of chance here.

If the combination of Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams are unable to replicate the success Murray had last season, the team will likely turn to their high-octane passing game to bail them out. And that sounds a lot like 2013 to me.

Let’s all hope the Cowboys gamble pays off.

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