For the majority of the season, Dak Prescott was in the running for an MVP trophy. Now we are 16 games in and while the honor is out of reach, Prescott's arm can still bring him more validation than an MVP trophy ever could. Validation such as competing in the postseason. You might be saying, whoa is this guy crazy? Still talking about this teams' chances? Wait a second here. Yes the Dallas Cowboys have underwhelmed as of late but if they can focus solely on going back to their passing-game, maybe they can turn this thing around.
They do say to not fix what is not broken, and in this case what is not broken is the Cowboys passing game and that has proven true all year.
The Cowboys passing attack (even with the last two weeks games), is still one of the best in the NFL. They are still steady in the race for a top 3-4 team in the passing game including, total passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating. This attack has catapulted players such as CeeDee Lamb and Jake Ferguson into star status (more so Lamb) and the team has put up a lot of points mainly because of the pass. The running game, well that is a different story.
It is evident that the running-game was not what many had hoped coming into the year. After a solid season put together by Tony Pollard in 2022, this was expected to be Pollard's breakout campaign (with more volume coming after Elliott's exit). To make matters worse, Coach Mike McCarthy let it be known that with more control with the play-calling in 2023, he was going to make sure to solidify the run-game. Therefore everything was on the table for Pollard to feast, yet he has come up short all year.
Pollard is averaging a measly 3.9 yards a carry this year and is on pace to finish 200 ground yards less than last year even being given nearly 50 plus more carries. Disappointing is an understatement. He can still be a good weapon at times and be a change-of-pace guy when you need a big play, but more was expected out of the fifth-year back.
Pollard has five games this year with over 15 carries which matches 2022, however he has had more receiving targets this year. By the numbers, Pollard is getting nearly the same amount of work if not a little be more, yet to no avail. Dallas seems to rely too heavily on Pollard even with the year he is having.
It seems like anytime Pollard breaks off a 12 yard or so run for the first down, Dallas has to give him two more carries back to back no matter what. Once they see a solid run by Pollard they think that he has turned everything around and you can ride him on the ground thereafter which does not always pan out. Possibly getting fellow back Rico Dowdle going more could also help take pressure off of Pollard when he cannot get anything going.
From weeks nine to 13, Dowdle got over 10 carries twice and since then he has had less than five carries in the games since then. He has unfortunately been a little banged up and the hope is getting him back up to speed. Still, all rushing struggles aside, thanks to Prescott's arm, the Cowboys have still been able to win games.
The passing game is seemingly the only consistent factor for this offense, so the team must keep with the momentum through the air when it happens.
Take last weeks loss in Miami for example. Prescott's connection with Lamb late in the first quarter on route to a 49 yard touchdown was a sign of what they have done all year. Yet, in the next two quarters Lamb's targets went down and the short passing game came back. Some games Dallas seems to get away from what is working. They still pass but they are not as aggressive.