Despite the label running back by committee, expect the Dallas Cowboys to go with the hot hand when it emerges like the last time they did this.
Due to the pending six-game suspension of starting running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys will try to make up for his lost production using not one player, but three. Running backs Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Rod Smith figure to all get touches as the Cowboys attempt to recreate the success they’ve had on the ground for the past season and a half with Zeke in the backfield.
But don’t expect the Cowboys to stick to an equal share between the three. In fact, Dallas is likely to do exactly what they did the last time they had multiple backs vying for the ball in this same way. They’ll go with the hot hand and ultimately stick with one bell cow.
Back in 2015, the 4-12 Cowboys started the season with a running back by committee. McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar were all expected to split carries trying to fill the shoes of former starter DeMarco Murray, who had fled the team in the offseason via free agency.
Early on, Randle emerged as the hot hand and garnered most of the carries. When Dunbar injured his knee early into the season, running back Christine Michael essentially took his place in the committee. But soon, McFadden began to distance himself from the others.
By the end of the year, both Randle and Michael were off the roster. And McFadden had only his second 1,000 yard rushing season of his career.
Two years later, and here we are again. With Elliott likely sidelined for the next six weeks, the dreaded running back by committee is being touted as his temporary replacement in Big D. But just like in 2015, don’t expect it to be an even split between backs. Dallas will go with the hot hand.
"“There’s some freshness and newness to this, so we’ll see how that plays out,” Linehan told the team’s official website concerning the running back by committee approach. “But you certainly want to give guys an opportunity to go in there and play well and stay in there. I have confidence all three of them are going to have, at some point, an impact for us.”"
Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Rod Smith are the new Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar from two years ago. With Morris likely getting the bulk of the carries at first, don’t be surprised if one of the talented trio emerges as the Dallas Cowboys new bell cow fairly soon.