Star Blog Don’t Worry About Cowboys Rushing Woes Published 4 months ago on October 1, 2017 By John Williams AP Photo/Jack Dempsey Share Tweet For the first few games of the 2017 season, the Dallas Cowboys running game hasn’t looked like the world-beaters they were in 2016. They’ve had a hard time creating any consistency, even though they’ve had their moments of effectiveness. If we take a look back at the early part of that 2016 season, it’s easy to see that they didn’t get off to a hot start there either. As a team the Dallas Cowboys rushed for 100 and 101 yards to start the season against the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, respectively. Remember all of the “Ezekiel Elliott is a bust,” “we should play Alfred Morris,” and “the offensive line is overrated” talk? I do. Here at InsideTheStar.com two of our very own writers have joined the chorus of many expressing concern over our run game in this short season. In his post titled, Concern Surrounds Cowboys OL Heading Into Week 4, Connor Livesay (@Connorx147) dropped a burning hot take when he said; “Through three weeks, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the offensive line has been the worst position group on the team. Trust me, I can’t believe I’m saying that either.” Staff Writer, Kevin Brady’s (@KevinBrady88) criticism is a bit more focused on this week’s film review; he’s stated that Chaz Green has sabotaged the running game. To me that’s a bit strong, but when Kevin talks OL, you can bet I’m paying attention. If you follow Twitter during the game, you can see Cowboys Nation self-destruct with each Ezekiel Elliott carry that goes nowhere. Here are a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t be worried about the Dallas Cowboys running game after only three weeks. It Takes Time to Develop Chemistry The biggest basis for Connor’s concerns is my number one reason why we shouldn’t worry at this point in the season. It takes time playing together to develop the chemistry that is so vital to an elite offensive line. After an offseason where the team was trying to figure out who would be the starting right tackle and left guard, the current starting five for the Dallas Cowboys didn’t play together all that much. Remember Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green were battling it out for the entirety of training camp with several other names mixed in. While competition is a good thing, aspects of offensive line play like chemistry and cohesiveness go underrated. Understanding what the guys on either side of you are going to do and being able to trust the player next to you to do their job are both things that take time. Being only three games into real football with a new left guard and a new right tackle, it may take a some time to get everyone on the same page for a full 60 minutes. Now with Chaz Green being hampered by injury, it’s possible that it could take longer if he’s forced to sit out. The Cowboys run game couldn’t get going in Denver. Really Good Defenses In 2017, the Dallas Cowboys have faced three tough defenses to start the season. The New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and the Arizona Cardinals are pretty good on the defensive side of the football. In 2016, we saw what the New York Giants were able to do to this Dallas Cowboys team and they started off strong yet again in week one. Dallas was able to run for 129 yards, Dak Prescott accounting for 29 of those on three carries. Elliott ran for 104 on 24 carries. An average of 4.33 yards per carry. A pretty good day against a pretty good defense if you ask me. They tried to take the running game away, but the team was able to wear them down and win on the ground when it mattered most. We all remember what Denver did to Dallas. That is one of the three best defenses in the NFL, if not the best. Sometimes good defenses like that are gonna take you out of your game plan. Denver certainly did that by getting ahead early and making Dallas a one-dimensional passing team. Denver is first in the NFL in rushing yards allowed this season. Check out Kevin’s film breakdown of what went wrong vs the Denver Broncos. Against the Arizona Cardinals, a team that came into the game only allowing 2.8 yards per carry, the Dallas Cowboys got back on track. Despite Chaz Green’s struggles, the team was able to make enough happen on the ground to allow Prescott to be effective in the play action game. It wasn’t pretty in the first half, but Dallas didn’t get the ball much. In the second half though, Dallas was able to grind away with the running game as Elliott ran for 49 of his 80 yards. His yards per carry wasn’t great but at 3.63 yards per carry, it was nearly a yard better per carry than what Arizona was giving up through two games. After Elliott’s sub par weeks one and two in 2016, he went on to run for 1,497 yards over the last 13 games (Elliott didn’t play in the last game of the 2016 season). ✭ ✭ ✭ The Dallas Cowboys have faced some really strong defenses to start the year. Now they get the Los Angeles Rams, who have given up 139 yards per game on the ground. I imagine that the game plan will feature Ezekiel Elliott early and often. After Los Angeles, the Cowboys get the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers, two teams that aren’t doing a lot against the run themselves. The point of all this is that we need to relax about the running game for now. It hasn’t been pretty, but aside from the Denver game, it’s been effective. By Monday, we will all realize that panicking over the running game was a bit premature. ADVERTISEMENT Related Topics:Ezekiel ElliottOffensive LineRunning Back Up Next Dallas Cowboys Season Hinges On Green Bay Game Don't Miss Cowboys en Español: 3 Claves Para la Victoria Sobre Rams John Williams I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team. Advertisement You may like Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL? Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job RB Coach Gary Brown Expected Back With Cowboys REPORT: Cowboys Replacing OL Coach Frank Pollack How Extending Zack Martin’s Contract Helps Cowboys Salary Cap What was the Biggest Disappointment for Cowboys in 2017? Click to comment Star Blog Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense? Published 14 hours ago on January 16, 2018 By Sean Martin Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season. On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason. It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign. This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency. Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins) For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though. The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods. With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018. As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes. Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward. A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out. The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford. With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays. Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season. Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan. He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond. This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two. Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball. Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline. Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level. Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever. A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense. The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off. With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons? Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL! ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Star Blog Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”? Published 16 hours ago on January 16, 2018 By Brian Martin The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly. Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed. The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott. It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight. The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career. Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”. Enter Tight End Rico Gathers. Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party. We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension. Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball. The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs. And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to. Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards. That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott. Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career. Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field. Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers. There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster. If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”. Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”? ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Star Blog Months Later, it Seems Jaguars S Barry Church was Right Published 1 day ago on January 15, 2018 By Kevin Brady About five months ago, before the 2017 NFL season had even begun, former Cowboys safety Barry Church made comments which made Cowboys Nation scratch their heads. Now a Jacksonville Jaguar, Church said his current team was more talented than his former, the Dallas Cowboys. At the time, many fans and writers alike laughed off his comments and chalked it up to typical preseason hype. Most people thought Church was crazy for suggesting a 13-3 team had less talent than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team led by Blake Bortles. Well, five months later, it’s become clear Barry Church was right. Brian Chojnacki on Twitter Jaguars safety Barry Church says he feels this Jags team has more talent than his #Cowboys squad last season. Dallas went 13-3. https://t.co/EcbxfUGsvy This weekend the Jaguars went on the road to Pittsburgh, and came away with a wire-to-wire victory in January. The Jaguars were the more physical team from start to finish, and dominated from the opening kick off. On the road. Against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers. Now the Jaguars are preparing to do something the Cowboys haven’t done in two decades: play in a conference championship game. The Jaguars and Cowboys will be linked for the next decade or so due to decisions each made during the 2016 NFL Draft. And while it appeared the Cowboys pushed all the right buttons in 2016, it now looks as if the Jaguars are preparing to compete for AFC supremacy for years to come. With their talented secondary, dominant defense, and physical rushing attack, the Jaguars have built their team in the mold of past champions. The Cowboys have attempted to do some of the same, but it certainly looks as if Barry Church was correct in his preseason assessment of the two rosters. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Sportsbook odds for all Dallas Cowboys games Reader Survey Want to help make Inside The Star better? We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device. > Take the survey now Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.). Advertisement Advertisement Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here Trending NFL Draft2 days ago The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition NFL Draft2 weeks ago Pre-Playoff 7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft Player News1 week ago Should the Cowboys Consider Not Giving Zack Martin an Extension? 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