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Running Back Can Help the Cowboys More Than Anything Else



Cowboys Blog - Running Back Can Help the Cowboys More Than Anything Else

Just because Darren McFadden had a productive 2015 season and you can't really attribute the Cowboys failures to the running back position doesn't mean that it can't be a pivotal position to upgrade.

Darren McFadden ended up rushing for 1,089 yards on 239 attempts averaging 4.6 yards per attempt in 2015. This was only the second time in McFadden's career where he eclipsed 1,000 yards. It was clearly one of McFadden's most successful seasons.

However, we shouldn't think this is enough.

I equate this situation to something similar to what the New York Jets have at quarterback. The Jets offense was productive and Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker had huge seasons. Ryan Fitzpatrick was the man throwing the ball for the Jets and he had a great season throwing to those two receivers.

Do you think the Jets now think they are set at quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick?

To use the words of former-Cowboy running back turned current-free agent idiot, Joseph Randle, there is meat left on the bone.

Cowboys Blog - Running Back Can Help the Cowboys More Than Anything Else 2

Joseph Randle was arrested yet again this weekend.

Yes, the Jets are thinking things could be even better with someone else throwing the ball for them.

Yes, the Cowboys and fans alike should be thinking that things could be even better with a new and improved man running the ball in Dallas.

Darren McFadden having a season like that should be so telling about what the Cowboys offensive line is capable of doing.

Some complained about the offensive line in short-yardage situations, but I actually don't blame the offensive line for that as much as I do McFadden and play calling.

Can you remember any runs from 2015 when McFadden really made a nice move? He may have a few, but nothing stands out at all.

McFadden has very little wiggle to him. He will make a read and run straight through it with power and speed. This is something that doesn't led itself well to a zone blocking scheme.

Instead of having an efficient running attack, how about modeling your entire team through it. The Cowboys can use their offensive line and running back to make everything flow through it. They can control the time of possession making life easier for the defense. They can open up the passing attack by making teams commit to the run. They can wear defenses down from the pounding the running game provides.

You might ask why other teams don't employ something like this. The only team I can think of that was built purely around the run was the Minnesota Vikings of 2012. Those Vikings went 10-6, making the Playoffs with a roster that was pretty average other than Adrian Peterson. This was the year that Adrian Peterson won the MVP and rushed for 2,097 yards.

Cowboys Blog - Running Back Can Help the Cowboys More Than Anything Else 1

Adrian Peterson carried the Minnesota Vikings on his shoulders to the 2012 Playoffs

You can also make the argument that the Seattle Seahawks have seen the most success of late when their running game is working.

The difference between a team like the 2012 Vikings and the Cowboys is that the Cowboys have a much better offensive line and team as a whole. They have a franchise quarterback and an elite wide receiver.

We saw what the Cowboys could look like when their running game is just dominant in 2014 with DeMarco Murray. The ceiling is so much higher than that. Murray wan't even a great fit for the scheme. With a true zone blocking runner, the Cowboys rushing attack can be unstoppable.

So, while we argue about future quarterbacks, backup quarterbacks and new wide receivers to open things up...a new running back is the real key here.

Earlier in the year I used this argument for Ezekiel Elliott as an option in the draft. There are multiple ways this team can get this done. Whether that be free agency or the draft, the Cowboys should really focus on upgrading the running back position.

Cowboys Blog - Running Back Can Help the Cowboys More Than Anything Else 3

Lamar Miller and Ezekiel Elliott are the two most popular options for the Cowboys running back position. Either would be a perfect fit and could take the Cowboys offense to the next level

We should appreciate what McFadden was able to do in 2015, because things could have gotten really ugly if he were any worse, but this is far from a finished product.

The sky is the limit and the Cowboys should look to soar as high as they could (not you Randy Gregory) through the running game and with that offensive line that can be potentially historic.

I've been blogging about sports and music for almost eight years now. I also work in media relations for a New York sports team, so I understand the bridge between the outlets writing about a team and the team monitoring content. I hope to bring something new to Inside The Star, getting deep into draft work, breakdowns and I always come with a strong and passionate opinion. I'm very active on Twitter, so ask questions, comment on stuff, etc. and I will almost definitely respond to you in some sort of debate!

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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