The Dallas Cowboys led the NFL in offense in the 2019 regular season, but on the back of their passing, or was it? Are they still an elite rushing team?
The Dallas Cowboys have been building with, towards, and through a great philosophy over the last handful of years. In this time frame, from about two years until the end of the Tony Romo era until now, they have seen themselves build their football teams from the offensive line outward.
Tyron Smith has been a staple at the left tackle position, protecting the blind side’s of both quarterbacks Romo and Dak Prescott, while they’ve managed to sprinkle in talented lineman after talented lineman via the draft and/or free agency to make up a pretty formidable offensive front. They drafted running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has been nothing short of sensational while on the field, who is just the cherry on top of it all.
This is all interesting though as it seems that in the biggest moments during this past season where they needed only a few yards or where it was clearly apparent that the best play call would be to try and run for yardage, they couldn’t or simply wouldn’t go to the run. If it were that they wouldn’t, that makes you wonder even further if they could?
This all begs of a question though. Are the Cowboys still that same elite rushing team that they have been over the past few seasons prior to this latest one? The answer is yes, although there were a ton of questionable moments from this past year, but here’s why.
This is one of the not so common occasions in sports where the numbers and the eye test say the exact same thing. As a team, the Dallas Cowboys ranked fifth in total rushing stats for the 2019 regular season, accruing 2,153 yards on 449 attempts while rushing for an average of 134.6 yards per contest.
When you look at the Cowboys’ feature back in Elliott, he also ranked high on the individual rushing lists. He finished fourth in the league in yardage with 1,357 yards but second in attempts at 301 to the league’s rushing leader Derrick Henry, who had 303 attempts.
The next thing to look at is how we even got to this point as a question. There are several parts to this answer, but they are not that complicated at all.
With Dak Prescott becoming more comfortable as a passer and with second-year coordinator Kellen Moore‘s offensive system, things began to happen that saw the ball go through the air more or into the hands of other offensive weapons in various different ways.
The Cowboys also saw themselves playing from behind quite a bit as well, which definitely contributed to a heavy dosage of passing plays as opposed to successful rushing attempts. This was just one side of that equation though.
Former head coach Jason Garrett had at least a small part to play in what has led to the questioning of the Cowboys’ run game. There were times where he should have pounded the rock and just didn’t. He isn’t at the helm anymore, so we can only hope that Mike McCarthy runs the ball when it makes the most sense to do so.
These may have been the reasons to questions the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack this past season and rightfully so, but have no doubt. The Cowboys are still an elite rushing team and their prolific passing attack from this season should only open that up more in the season to come. Let’s just hope they can put them both together in a nice balanced package, because if they can, they may just make a bit more noise than they have over the past two seasons.