Could it happen? Could it really happen? The fans have been screaming for it for ages now – a legitimate, dominating running game. According to Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, that’s exactly what will happen in the Dallas offense this season.
On Thursday, Jones gave his thoughts on what a consistent running game would have done for the Cowboys last season, and what he see’s happening for this season, regarding the running game.
“All you have to do is turn on ESPN and three of the best games of the year were all us, losing at the end after we had good leads that we could have won. We win those three games I don’t have to tell you what that means.”
“I think our offensive line is better than it was last year and I think we ran the ball pretty well last year,” Jones said. “I think we’ll run it better this year and I think there will be a bigger commitment to running it.”
I’m sure a lot of Cowboys fans are saying, “we’ve heard this before.” And they would be right. Seems like after every game in 2013 Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, or Jason Garrett would say how the team needed to commit to the running game more. But the very next game would end up like the week before – 35-40 passing attempts and 15-18 rushing attempts.
However, there is a difference hearing Jones say that now, and that is that he’s saying it now. Think about it for a second… in the last few years, before training camp, all the talk would be how the offense would be more “Tony Romo friendly,” and how Romo would become more involved in the offensive game plan. And sure enough, each season the offense was laid squarely on the shoulders of Tony Romo.
But there were reasons for that way of thinking:
- Tony Romo is an elite quarterback in the NFL, and the offense should be built around him
- The team hasn’t had the ability to run the ball consistently
- The defense has been in a downward spiral for a few years now
Now you may ask yourself, what’s changed? Since Romo is still an elite quarterback, we know that hasn’t changed. The team has the ability to run the ball consistently, and they started showing that during parts of last season. And there’s something else that’s changed. The defense will be better (I guarantee it).
I felt the team had the ability to run it consistently last season. However, the offensive line really didn’t seem to gel and get the zone-run scheme down until the half-way point of the season. But you know what’s worse than having an unreliable offensive line that you can’t rush behind? Having a defense so bad that you don’t even have the option to develop a consistent running game.
One of the biggest downfalls of having a terrible defense and not being able to run the ball consistently is not having the option to sit on a lead. The offense had to be in attack mode, staying aggressive and continuing to call passing plays, even though the team might have had a two touchdown lead in the second half of a game.
Now some people think if we would have run the ball more, it would have helped the defense, and it very well could have kept them off the field more had the offense been able to run the ball more effectively. But let’s not kid ourselves, that defense was horrible. So that meant the team could never get in grind mode and finish teams off the way the team’s from the early to mid 90’s did.
So let’s look a few things here. The team chose another offensive lineman in the first round of the draft. And not just any offensive lineman, but some are calling him one of, if not the best offensive linemen in the 2014 draft.
The Cowboys will now be running with an all-pro left tackle, a left guard that grew leaps and bounds from his rookie season, an all-pro center (yeah, that’s right, I’m calling it) a rookie right guard some are calling the best offensive lineman in the 2014 draft, and Doug Free… who seemed to turn his career around last season and started playing like this team knew he could. The other factor isn’t even on the offensive side of the ball. It’s the defense people! The 2014 defense of the Dallas Cowboys will be much improved from last season. That will be the biggest key to the Cowboys being able to run the ball this season.
All the pieces are in place on the offense. The run scheme is there, the offensive line is there, and the running backs, too.
If that defense improves, like I know it will, everyone could see something that hasn’t been seen in nearly 17 years. (No, I’m not talking Super Bowl, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves) But I’m talking about in-your-face football, shoving the ball down the opponent’s throat with a dominating run game.
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