The NFL off season can be a tricky time for fans and football writers alike. Prior to 32 teams opening up their training camps this summer on a quest towards Super Bowl LI, they must get through the remainder of June and most of July without a whole lot going on.
For Cowboys Nation to pass the time, we can always count on those lovable and incredibly accurate national headlines – right?
Wrong. It is at this point in the summer that outlets like Fox Sports always undervalue the Dallas Cowboys and their status entering the new season. While it is fair to say the team certainly has some question marks to address for 2016, the offensive line and rushing attack are two areas that Jason Garrett and the staff have to feel pretty comfortable about.
Recently, Fox Sports went ahead and ranked every rushing attack in the league, factoring in the overall talent on the offense along with the mobility of the team’s quarterback.
You can check out the rankings right here, but you may be surprised at how much you have to scroll down before finding the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys, with Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, Lance Dunbar, and Darius Jackson all currently on the roster, ranked sixth in the league. Coming in ahead of the Cowboys were – from highest to lowest – the Steelers, Panthers, Seahawks, Bills, and Cardinals.
Pittsburgh topping the list is not a shock, as Le’Veon Bell returns to a backfield that features the still-reliable DeAngelo Williams – who proved himself in the absence of Bell last season.
The second and third spots on this list went to teams that rely heavily on their quarterbacks for rushing success. While Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are unbelievably dangerous talents, there is no substitute for being able to run the ball effectively thanks mostly to your dominant offensive line like the Cowboys can.
Additionally, the Seahawks will be entering their first season in which Wilson will not have the luxury of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch. Thomas Rawls appears poised to have a breakout year there in Seattle, and will split carries with former Cowboy Christine Michael as well as rookies C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins.
This generally unproven backfield does not deserve a spot above the likes of the veterans the Cowboys employ like Morris and McFadden though, and that’s without even factoring in Ezekiel Elliott.
That brings us to the Buffalo Bills, who led the league in rushing thanks mostly to LeSean McCoy. While their 2015 output on the ground was impressive, especially considering their lackluster QB and WR play, the “best” rushing attacks should be the ones that have the potential to win more games.
The Cowboys with a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to aid Ezekiel Elliott and the rest of the backfield will be much more competitive than Rex Ryan’s Bills.
While I don’t mind the Cardinals being directly ahead of the Cowboys, the truth is that Dallas should find themselves pulling away from Arizona into the top three on this list.
Here is exactly what Fox had to say about where they ranked the Cowboys, offering nothing but praise towards the entirety of the offense:
Despite having to deal with injuries and troubled players at the running back position (Joseph Randle), the Cowboys had the ninth-best rushing offense in the league last season. Darren McFadden led the bunch with 1,089 yards. McFadden is now dealing with an elbow injury suffered while dropping his phone, which gives way to the inevitable. Rookie Ezekiel Elliott enters the league with massive expectations running behind Dallas’ star-studded offensive line. Furthermore, Lance Dunbar will be back, and the addition of Alfred Morris gives them a bruising back. Thanks to depth, overall talent and a great offensive line, the Cowboys will be one of the best offenses in the NFL.
What truly matters here is that Ezekiel Elliott should have every single Cowboys fan stoked for the upcoming season. Enough cannot be said about establishing an identity for your football team, and the Cowboys saw an opportunity to do just that when they added Zeke to run behind this offensive line with the fourth overall pick.
Opposing defensive coordinators are going to be terrified of Elliott, while also having to worry about the likes of Morris, Dunbar, and potentially Jackson. As if that wasn’t enough, Cowboys’ Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan can always have Tony Romo drop back and throw the ball to Dez Bryant and his host of targets.
The Cowboys rushing attack is going to be the heartbeat of this team in 2016, and our collective hearts are ready to watch it dominate on Sundays!