Faulk: How Tony Romo Would Hurt Cowboys Running Game
Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk explains why he believes the Dallas Cowboys running game would suffer if veteran quarterback Tony Romo returns as the starter.
As the Dallas Cowboys bye week concludes, the focus turns to what will essentially be the second half of the season for America’s Team. And we will likely soon get the answer as to whom will lead the Cowboys at quarterback through the rest of those games: the veteran Tony Romo or the rookie Dak Prescott.
Regardless of the decision, the Cowboys running game will still be at the heart of this resurgence of football relevance in Dallas. Behind arguably the league’s best offensive line, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL in rushing yards with 703 through their first six games. On pace to break several franchise and league records, the Cowboys running attack has been the driving force behind their five-game winning streak.
But one Hall of Fame running back believes that success could be limited if Romo returns under center. Former St. Louis’ Ram great Marshall Faulk believes the veteran quarterback’s knowledge could result in less carries for Elliott and the rest of the Cowboys running backs, thus limiting the opportunities they’d see with a less experienced Prescott calling the plays.
"“It only happen if Dak Prescott is the quarterback,” Faulk told NFL Network’s Rich Eisen on his podcast when discussing the possibility of Ezekiel Elliott breaking rushing records this season. “Because right now Dak is in a situation, and this offense is in a situation, that they call plays and it may have a run/pass option…and Dak may stick with the run play. He may get the ball out quick to a receiver. But when Tony comes back, Tony is savvy enough that their not going to waste run plays running into looks that are not good.”"
So Faulk’s argument is because Romo is far more knowledge about the Cowboys offense, that the veteran will audible out of some run plays that a less experienced Prescott might not, thus limiting some of those opportunities Elliott and the other Dallas rushers may have gotten through the first half of the season.
I’m not sure this theory holds much water compared to the Cowboys 2014 regular season, which many pundits and fans often reference in comparison to this year’s version of Dallas’ running attack. That season, the Cowboys rushed the ball a whopping 508 times. Former running back DeMarco Murray was the beneficiary of 392 of those carries, and finished that year with a league-leading 1,845 yards on the ground. And that was all done with Romo starting 15 games under center.
This season, the Cowboys have ran the ball 202 times through six games with Prescott at the helm of America’s Team. That’s an average of 33.6 times per contest. With 10 games to go, and if Dallas keeps this pace, they’ll finish the season with 539 rushing attempts. A mere 31 more carries than in 2014, or just under two more attempts per game.
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Bottom line is whether Prescott or Romo are under center, the Cowboys running game will be the primary engine that powers Dallas’ offense. And the history and numbers show Elliott and the other Cowboys running backs should get plenty of opportunities to break several records as the season wears on. Whether they do so or not will solely depend on what they do with the attempts they are given.