Dallas Cowboys: The Key to Success for 2016
By Brian Martin
We discuss how the Dallas Cowboys can be successful in 2016 by following the blueprint laid down by the 2014 team.
The Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the teams that make up NFL have been in full off-season mode for a few weeks now and the evaluation process is fully underway.
With the scouting combine already underway there is a sense of uncertainty in regards to how the Cowboys can get back on track after their disastrous 2015 season.
I remember a year ago when watching the scouting combine that I was left wondering which one of these participants would join the team and help them make a push for the 2015 Super Bowl, or at least another deep run into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, we all witnessed how quickly things can change of NFL and how a team can go from being a Super Bowl favorite to having the fourth overall draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
So, as I sit here watching the 2016 NFL scouting combine kickoff I am asking myself how to the Cowboys hope to return to the playoffs in the upcoming season and I think the best way to do that is to follow the blueprint they laid down in the 2014 season.
There is no denying that a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will help the offense get back on track and make the entire team more competitive, but I think one thing that will help the Cowboys the most would be to go back to the 2014 blueprint and show a commitment to the running game.
I’m not saying that the Cowboys didn’t commit to the running game in 2016, but the best way to ensure that Romo stays healthy for the entire season and to help the defense out is to control the clock by running the football and wearing down the opposing defenses.
In 2014, Romo was at his best with a strong running game and there is no reason why he can’t return to form even though there will be questions about whether or not he can remain healthy for entire season.
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Defenses wouldn’t be pinning their ears back rushing passer if they know that they have to account for the Cowboys rushing attack, which would hopefully keep Romo up right more often and keep him from landing on his fragile clavicle.
So, how did the Cowboys go back to the 2014 blueprint that worked so well?
First off, I think they have to find a running back that fits their scheme better even though Darren McFadden had arguably his best professional season in the NFL.
Darren McFadden rushed for 1089 yards on 239 attempts averaging 4.6 yards per carry in 2015, despite only becoming the starting running back after Joseph Randle was released. This was only McFadden’s second 1000 yard season in the NFL and clearly his best, but that doesn’t mean that the Cowboys can’t get better at the position.
In fact, the Cowboys had to change up the blocking scheme a little bit to help McFadden play to his strengths as a runner and hide some of his inefficiencies.
McFadden is more of a downhill runner that fits best in a power blocking scheme, whereas the Cowboys offensive line is best when they are running a zone blocking scheme where they can use their athletic ability to work in space and open up running lanes.
This is one of the reasons I believe they struggled in short yardage situations, because McFadden has very little wiggle to him and is better where he can take the handoff and run straight ahead using his speed.
I’m not trying to downplay McFadden’s performance in 2015, I just wanted to point out that I think they’re better fits that would play to the strengths of the Cowboys offensive line and that finding that running back would help the entire team return to success for the 2016 season.
I personally think there are some very good options that will be available in free agency that the team decides to go that route, but if not there are some good running backs that will be available in the draft as well.
Matt Forte, Lamar Miller, and Doug Martin are all the running backs that will be available free agency the Cowboys could take a look at, but the price tag would have to be just right in order for them to be a serious consideration.
The Cowboys would probably be better served to find a young running back in the draft that fits that the zone blocking scheme and can take the running game to new heights.
Obviously, Ezekiel Elliott would probably be the top choice and could possibly be an All-Pro as a rookie running behind the Cowboys talented offensive line.
I don’t know if the Cowboys would be willing to draft him fourth overall, but he could be an option if they decided to trade back.
Other names that make sense would be Devontae Booker, Kenneth Dixon, Alex Collins, Paul Perkins, and Jordan Howard. All of these running backs should be available on the second day of the draft and be a better fit in the backfield then McFadden.
Whatever direction the Cowboys decide to go they should know that the sky is the limit for the running game and the key to success for the 2016 season.
Next: Pass Rushers: The Dallas Cowboys Wanted List
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