Dallas Cowboys already have a winning formula for success

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 31: Running back Ezekiel Elliott
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 31: Running back Ezekiel Elliott /

The Dallas Cowboys had a formula for success in two seasons ago. They are set up for success with that same formula in 2018.

The Dallas Cowboys won thirteen games during the 2016 season with an old-school philosophy: run the ball on offense, stop the run on defense. Dallas was second in the league in rushing yards and first in rushing yards allowed. This led to an NFC East crown and the Cowboys were back in the playoffs.

In 2016, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott had more rushing yards than any other player in the NFL. He finished his first year with 1,631 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. The Cowboys rushed for a total of 2,396 yards as a team.

Elliott only had one game with less than 80 rushing yards and went over 100 yards seven times. Defenses knew Zeke was coming and couldn’t do anything to stop him.

Quarterback Dak Prescott played unbelievable football as a rookie in 2016 as well. With only four interceptions on the year and a quarterback rating of 104.9, the Cowboys sustained drives and controlled the clock.

The Cowboys run defense was stellar. The ‘Boys didn’t allow a single 100-yard rusher all season long. The defense was well rested with this ball control offense helping them out.

All of this earned the Cowboys a +5 turnover ratio and the second overall spot in the league for time of possession.

Run the ball and stop the run. Sounds cliché but it worked and Dallas won 13 games with two rookies leading the charge.

Last season didn’t go as planned for Dallas for a lot of reasons. With a suspension looming over Elliott and inconsistency along the offensive line, the Cowboys running game wasn’t the same. Their run defense wasn’t as dominant in 2017 as well.

Rest easy, Cowboy fans. There’s no need to worry. This team is set up to return to that winning formula more so now than ever before. If the ‘Boys are going back to the playoffs, it will be behind the running of Elliott and a stingy, run-stopping defense reminiscent of the 2016 season. Hear me out.

The Cowboys lost two of their top receiving options in the offseason in wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. This loss of talent alone should create more plays for Elliott and the run game to take off again. The Cowboys did add Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and rookie Michael Gallup to the receiving corps, but Zeke is going to get the bulk of the workload.

The offensive line should get more push with 2018 second rounder Conner Williams, who could be a draft-day steal, inserted to left guard and La’el Collins in his second year at right tackle after switching positions last season. Word is Tyrone Smith’s back is feeling better and his presence makes the whole offense play better.

On defense, linebacker Sean Lee is an absolute beast when he is healthy. Lee missed five games last season and it showed as the Cowboys lost every contest.

Help is on the way if Lee does miss time in the form of two young linebackers. Rookie first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, and a finally healthy Jaylon Smith should provide solid play versus the run as both have been known as tackling machines.

The Cowboys look to have built their roster to fit the winning formula of the 2016 season. The improved offensive line and investment in talent at linebacker should lead to the team dominating the run on both offense and defense.

Next. The top 10 Dallas Cowboys to never win a Super Bowl. dark

This should help Dak Prescott and the offense set up convertible third downs, cut down on turnovers, and control the clock. A quarterback’s best friend is an effective run game and this offense should ram the ball down opposing teams throats. Running the ball and stopping the run is a good recipe for success, and the 2018 Dallas Cowboys are built for it.