Could Knowshon Moreno Help The Dallas Cowboys?


Let’s suspend reality for just a moment and assume that the lowered expectations of the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack all come into fruition in 2015.

We exist in a realm where the committee of running backs that have the mesmerizing blue star on their helmets are all incapable of replicating the production this team had last year.

Maybe Joseph Randle can’t handle the extended workload.  Maybe Darren McFadden and Ryan Williams continue their history of injury issues.  Maybe Lance Dunbar continues to be lauded in the preseason, then never does anything when the games matter.

Put yourself in the shoes of head coach Jason Garrett.

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What do you do?

Do you reach out to one of the various “names” still available?

How does former Titans and Jets back Chris Johnson sound?  What about the 16th leading rusher in NFL history, former Ram and Falcon Steven Jackson?  Ahmad Bradshaw?  Knowshon Moreno?

If I’m Garrett, I say no thanks to Johnson and his declining numbers over the past two seasons.  I congratulate Jackson on his place in history and move along.  I tell Bradshaw and Moreno that I apparently have enough guys with injury issues and politely pass.

Except maybe I keep Moreno on the phone a little longer than everyone else, just to get some ideas on how I’m going to change my offense.

You see, Moreno was part of the most prolific passing offense in the history of the NFL.  The 2013 Denver Broncos not only set all-time marks in passing attempts (675) and passing yards (5,444), they also scored the most points in any one season in NFL history.

Five of their offensive players, including Moreno himself, had sixty plus receptions.  Four had double-digit touchdown totals.

And before you think that those Broncos just replicated some kind of Arena League offense, know that Moreno and his back up combined for 350+ carries and 1,500+ yards rushing.  The 1,038 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns produced by Moreno were career highs.  The run was not abandoned, it just wasn’t featured.

Can the Cowboys replicate the Broncos proficient pass attack?

I believe so.  Maybe not to the extreme levels in which the Broncos did but the pieces are in place.

No one in their right mind would ever insinuate that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is better than the one and only Peyton Manning, but Romo is certainly capable of putting up impressive numbers.  In fact, Romo’s numbers are similar to Manning’s over the last three seasons in relation to completion percentage (67.7% to 66.2), interceptions thrown (36 for Manning, 38 for Romo) and yards per attempt (8.1 to 7.7).

I don’t think anyone would doubt that Romo could be the leader of highly prolific aerial assault.

Manning’s wide receivers that season all had ridiculous numbers as you might imagine but one could easily argue that the 2015 Cowboys have equal or possibly better options.

At the very least, you would say receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas are equal.  Arguing who is better is a matter of personal preference, much like a discussion about the best flavor of ice cream.

The second outside receiver comparison between Eric Decker and Terrance Williams would also likely break out as even as well. Decker has two good years so far in his NFL career, both thanks to Manning.

In fact, Williams has better numbers than Decker through their first two seasons and by all accounts, Williams could be on the verge of stardom.  Ask any Broncos fan about Decker, good luck finding one who misses him.

The slot receiver during the Broncos record-breaking season, Wes Welker, actually had the same yards per catch that current Cowboys threat Cole Beasley did last year.  What could Beasley do with more looks?

At tight end, we all know how capable Jason Witten is when it comes to becoming a passing threat. During that 2013 season, the only thing special about the Broncos tight end was his touchdown totals. While Julius Thomas caught 12 balls for scores, 75% of them were within 13 yards.  I have long believed that if the Cowboys chose to utilize Witten more in the red zone, he too could produce big scoring numbers.

As you can see, it’s not so much the personnel that would be the issue. The most difficult thing to replicate may be the pace. During that 2013 season the Broncos ran 1,136 offensive plays.

By comparison, last year the Cowboys ran almost 200 plays less, rushing 508 times while throwing the ball 476. In fact, under Garrett, the highest number of total offensive snaps produced would still fall over 100 short of the pace the Broncos played at two seasons ago.

Last year the Cowboys offense played a style which was intended to protect the defense. It succeeded.  In this scenario, the offense could still protect the defense if necessary, just in a different manner.

While it would be fun to dream about the Cowboys slinging the ball all over the field, lighting up the scoreboard, I think most fans hope that 2015 looks more like 2014.

Thanks for the information Knowshon, but I think we’ll be okay…

Next: Can Terrance Williams Replace Dez Bryant In Dallas?