What the Dallas Cowboys Running Game Has Taught Us After One Game – Not Much
As much as the official prognosticators and media pundits would have you believe they know about the Dallas Cowboys from watching their victory performance Sunday night against the New York Giants, the sad fact is that very little was learned about the DeMarco Murray-less Cowboys. We didn’t come close to learning if they can truly run the ball as effectively and efficiently as they did in 2014.
What we did learn is difficult to gauge simply because turnovers allowed the Giants to score in both the first and second half, forcing the Cowboys to
play catch-up till the end.
Yes, your ‘Pokes dominated the time of possession, but it wasn’t because they were relying on their ground game. Using what is referred to as “glorified runs,” Tony Romo was passing to the running backs out of a running formation. Instead of the normal “play action fake” where the running back, upon being faked a hand-off, then blocks to protect the Quarterback, the running backs were taking the fake and continuing into short pass patterns. They completed several passes in this manner, something that was rarely seen last year.
So, what is one to conclude from this scenario? It really is difficult to know what to conclude. The Cowboys ran the ball 23 times and passed 45 times. If not for having to play from behind, we can safely conclude that the Cowboys would have preferred to run more, but how much more is the question. But even that conclusion could be considered suspect since the time of possession dominance in the first half wasn’t just from a reliance on the ground game and a balanced attack.
The utilization of passes to the running backs from running formations out of the back field, which was a part of that time of possession dominance,
could be viewed as an acknowledgement by the staff of their lack of confidence in this stable of running backs. If true, then the running backs would be viewed as a weakness and liability, especially when faced with traditional short yardage run situations they were so successful at last year with DeMarco Murray. So, passing from running formations could be seen as covering for that weakness while, at the same time, trying to utilize the strengths of the running backs, speed, agility, quickness and good hands. This could also be the conclusion since Lance Dunbar lined up as a receiver several times and ended up being the leading receiver for the Cowboys with 8 receptions for 70 yards.
So, while everyone wants to be King of the Media Prognosticator’s Hill and tout their definitive conclusions about the State of the Dallas Cowboys running game, the truth is that no one knows anything except Jason Garrett and his staff. And they would probably be the first to admit that they don’t know nearly as much as they want to know.
So, what is likely to happen against the Cowboys next opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles? Jason Garrett will probably exit this game with a better idea of where this running game is………………unless. Unless what you saw against the Giants was the Cowboys running game plan for 2015. In that case, 2015 might prove to be more than an interesting quest for the Super Bowl!