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Pro Football Focus Ranks Cowboys Running Back Unit Surprisingly Low

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - Running Back Unit Rankings Have Dallas Cowboys Shockingly Low

It's been a weirdly awesome week here at Inside The Star. I mean, for crying out loud, I wrote about pants yesterday.

Weird seems to be the deal these days. Kids are running around playing Pokemon Go, and running back unit rankings are considering the Cowboys 10th in the NFL.

My fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin wrote a little diddy up discussing how FOX's Cameron DaSilva ranked the NFL's Rushing Attacks entering 2016. This was an evaluation of just that, the "rushing attacks" which considered the overall talent of the offense and mobility of the quarterback.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/fox-ranks-nfl-rushing-attacks-places-dallas-out-of-top-5/

On Tuesday, Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus dropped a similar set of rankings. This is an evaluation of "Running Back Units (RBU)" so it's only ballcarriers. The Cowboys were ranked not 1st, not 2nd, not 3rd, not 4th, hey LeBron, not 5th, but 10th! TENTH!

PFF RBU Rankings Team
1 Pittsburgh Steelers
2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3 Kansas City Chiefs
4 Carolina Panthers
5 Minnesota Vikings
6 Los Angeles Rams
7 Jacksonville Jaguars
8 Buffalo Bills
9 Houston Texans
10 Dallas Cowboys

This is real. I'm not making it up.

I've done my fair share of studying when it comes to running backs in the NFL. My Price Per Yard Series is pretty indicative of that.

Let's say I hadn't, though. Let's say that I was a baby duckling just learning about this great game of football. EVEN THEN I WOULD KNOW THAT THE COWBOYS RUNNING BACK UNIT IS BETTER THAN THE BUCCANEERS, PANTHERS, RAMS, JAGUARS, AND TEXANS!

We are talking about "Running Back Units" here so I'm willing to concede that Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Buffalo, and Minnesota probably have us beat. They're all deep in a special way, although I would argue Pittsburgh isn't at times, after all DeAngelo Williams and I are pals, today just isn't that day.

It is absurd to suggest that those five RBUs are better than the Cowboys.

Let's define the Cowboys RBU for a second. You've got Zeke, Alfred Morris, and Lance Dunbar/Darius Jackson. Fair? Fair!

Four months ago I proved how Alfred Morris alone is better than Doug Martin, the Panthers have a shaky Jonathan Stewart starting and nothing else that impresses, Los Angeles is thin past Gurley, the Jaguars have who... TJ Yeldon? And Chris Ivory? The person who had less yards than Darren McFadden - who I'm not counting as part of the Cowboys RBU EVEN THOUGH HE WAS THE 4TH LEADING RUSHER IN THE NFL LAST SEASON - in 2015? That's better? Seriously?

The Houston Texans have Lamar Miller, cool. Then they have Alfred Blue, who is a significantly lower-level Alfred than the other one in the state of Texas. Oh and they have Tyler Ervin who is an unproven Lance Dunbar.

The Dallas Cowboys are, at the very worst, the fifth best Running Back Unit in the NFL.

Let's prove it in 2016. Hurry up, football.

Where do you think the Dallas Cowboys Running Back Unit ranks across the NFL? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoashow.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Pro Football Focus Ranks Cowboys Running Back Unit Surprisingly Low" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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1 Comment
  • Cameron Davis

    I haven't heard anyone who would vehemently disagree with the Cowboys Offensive line being #1 though. Carolina is the only one in the same ballpark for both units, coming in at 6 for OL and 4 for RB (and the only positive comment was based on RB pass blocking?) . With all the investment and expectation put into the running game, the Cowboys will be a disappointment to be anything less than the 2nd best rushing attack, which I think unreasonable to choose a rookie to put in a place with such expectations. Should we really depend on a rookie to have 1500 yards and be so responsible for the QB's health? Because anything less than that (which would basically be a top 5 rookie RB season ever) would be a let down for the position he has been placed.

Game Notes

SEA 24, DAL 13: Cowboys Offensive Woes Continue

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Williams, Seahawks
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Inefficient passing and turnovers cost the Dallas Cowboys today, leading to a 24-13 loss to the previously winless Seahawks in Seattle.

Dallas's offense produced just a single field goal by halftime, with Dak Prescott only completing two of his first nine passes for just four yards. He got better as the game went on, but still finished with just 168 passing yards and a single touchdown.

The box score will say Prescott threw two interceptions, but one was a bobbled catch by Michael Gallup. The other was not a good throw, trying to find Blake Jarwin in traffic. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner went up and caused a tipped ball.

Both picks ended up in the hands, and ankle, of Seattle safety Earl Thomas. He drew a taunting penalty for bowing at the Dallas sideline on his second INT, almost as if mocking the team for not giving up enough to trade for him.

Ezekiel Elliott did have a big day on the ground; 127 yards on just 16 carries. It's his first 100-yard game of 2018. But the fact Dallas couldn't capitalize on Zeke's production was just further indication of their offensive dysfunction.

Hurry home, Travis Frederick. Who knew you were our Offensive MVP?

Other Notes

  • While Zeke did have a strong rushing performance, two critical errors were big parts of the Cowboys' loss. An early TD catch was called back because Zeke stepped out of bounds before making the reception. Also, Elliott's fumble in the 4th quarter squandered a strong drive that could have started Dallas' comeback attempt sooner.
  • Dallas' defense looked good early but clearly wore down over time. Seattle RB Chris Carson ground out 102 rushing yards on 32 carries. Russell Wilson took advantage of some miscues in the secondary for two touchdown passes and 192 passing yards.
  • Tyrone Crawford got called for another bogus "roughing the passer" penalty after a clean hit on Wilson early in the game. The NFL has to get this figured out, because it's becoming a bigger eyesore for the league than any amount of kneeling ever did.
  • Tavon Austin got his second touchdown catch this year, the only Cowboy to record a receiving TD so far this year. Tight end Geoff Swaim had five catches for 47 yards, reminding the world that Dallas actually has TEs on their roster.
  • Speaking of which, as Troy Aikman commented on during the game, Rico Gathers was not used in redzone passing situations. Why is Gathers dressing for games and not being utilized in the one situation where he's not a liability?
  • Sean Lee left the game after reaggravating the hamstring injury he suffered last week. It meant more playing time for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who reminded you of Lee with how he was getting to the ball. Both finished the game credited with 11 tackles each.
  • Rookie guard Connor Williams continues to struggle when up against powerful defensive tackles. It's not a surprise for a converted college tackle, but growing pains still cost you on game day. Dallas may have to consider starting Joe Looney at guard once Travis Frederick comes back.
  • Kicker Brett Maher went 2/2 today on field goals, including a 50-yarder. He has hit four straight after missing his one attempt against Carolina in Week 1.
  • The rest of the NFC East won their games today. That puts Philly and Washington at 2-1 and now evens up the Cowboys and Giants at 1-2.
  • Dallas returns home next week to host the Detroit Lions, who are currently 0-2. They play the Patriots tonight.



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Game Notes

Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.

That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.

Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.

Now, however, things are changing.

Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.

Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.

Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.

The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.

Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.

It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.



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Player News

Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Sean Martin

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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.

Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.

Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.

This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.

John Owning on Twitter

Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J

A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.

Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.

The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.

Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.

Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.

The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.

Tell us what you think about "Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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