Dallas Cowboys: Best offensive line, worst NFL backfield?


The Dallas Cowboys have drawn a line in the sand. They’ve decided they are going to start this new season with a running back-by-committee that includes Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar. With many expecting the Cowboys offensive line to be the most dominant line in the NFL, it’s obvious Dallas figures any back could find success behind them.

This offseason, the Cowboys decided not to give the NFL leading rusher, running back DeMarco Murray, the big contract he wanted due to of his injury history. Then, Dallas elected not to sign or trade for a big name running back outside of another, even more injury-prone running back in McFadden. To add even more insult to common sense, this Cowboys front office elected not to select a rookie runner during the entire 2015 NFL Draft, in one of the deepest running back classes in recent memory. Talk about confidence…or tremendous arrogance.

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This year, the Dallas Cowboys have chosen to gamble their Super Bowl chances to answer this question: Is it the running back that makes the offensive line? Or does the offensive line make the running back? The Cowboys are going all-in with their chips betting on the latter.

On Monday, veteran running back Fred Jackson was released by the Buffalo Bills. According to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, unnamed club sources claim the Cowboys have no interest in Jackson at this time. Although he’s 34-years old, Jackson has a batter track record as a rusher than unproven backs like Randle and Dunbar. And he’s certainly been more durable than McFadden.

Instead, the Cowboys have elected to place their franchise’s immediate future in the hands of a starting running back in Randle, who was arrested twice in a four-month span last season. McFadden’s infamous history includes 16 documented injuries since he entered the league in 2008, including two separate hamstring injuries this offseason in Dallas alone.

And Dunbar, who’s dealt with his own laundry list of injuries, has flashed potential but has yet had it translate into meaningful production for the Cowboys. In fact, he’s still searching for his very first regular season touchdown, now in his fourth season. This is the same sentiment that Around The NFL editor Greg Rosenthal shared recently in his season preview for the Cowboys.

"“Yes, the Cowboys had the best offensive line in the league last year,” Rosenthal wrote in an article that appeared on NFL.com on Monday. “But great offensive lines don’t always stay great, even when there is continuity. The team’s front office could be asking too much of the line considering the dearth of talent at running back. Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar combine to form one of the worst backfields this side of New England. McFadden has overcome some early training camp injuries, but this is not a reliable group. DeMarco Murray helped make the Cowboys a historically efficient offense last year, and a decline in the running game now looks inevitable.”"

If this running back experiment begins to fail this season, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones has already revealed the team’s future plans. Here’s what DallasCowboys.com writer David Helman wrote following Dallas’ non-action in the draft in May.

"“Talent business in the NFL is a never-ending task, and team executive vice president Stephen Jones twice referenced LeGarrette Blount – who joined the New England Patriots late last season on their way to a Super Bowl.”"

Blount was waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers in late November. Two days later, the Patriots signed the 27-year old running back and rode him all the way to a Super Bowl victory. Apparently, Jones and the Cowboys front office plan to make a similar move if Dallas’ offensive backfield begins to falter.

Unfortunately, if the Cowboys front office elects to once again sit on the sidelines during this roster-purging period, there could be a very limited talent pool to choose from once the real games begin. By that time, the Cowboys version of LeGarrette Blount might be on another team. Sometimes sitting on your hands isn’t the answer.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: This defense will win games in 2015