The construction of the Dallas Cowboys offense reached it's climax of sorts during this years draft when we all heard those incredible words:
The Dallas Cowboys select Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Ohio State University.
The entire NFL world erupted.
Whether you thought the pick was awful because the devaluating of the running back position over the years has shown us that investing too much into a back can be dangerous, or you thought the pick was fantastic as it solidified an offense that had already shown how great it could be, you had an opinion. And a strong one at that.
Of course us Cowboys faithful will point back to 2014 when the team produced the NFL's leading rusher in DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys went on to a 12-4, catch away from the NFC championship game, season to justify the pick.
And, there is no question that ball control offense and a consistent running attack will improve your chances to win week by week, and especially to win in those late months of the year.
However, will it be enough for a team that seems to be shaky in so many other key areas?
Will 1,500 yards from Elliott and maybe another 800 or so from Alfred Morris and company have a big enough impact to overcome deficiencies which will be exploited in our pass rush?
It is impossible to say at this point, but when you take a look at the raw statistics over the last decade, an elite running game in terms of yards may not be enough.
Since 2006, the average record of the team with the most rushing yards in a season is 9.4-6.6.
So, about 9-7. Not great, not bad, and maybe even enough to win the division.
But 9-7 isn't what Cowboys fans are wishing for, or even expecting.
9-7 means you have to have help to get into the playoffs, and then win three games (at least 2 of which are on the road) to even get to the Super Bowl.
And yes, I said the Super Bowl, because regardless of their 2015 record, the goal of just about every NFL team is clear right now, and it is a Super Bowl
On top of that, only three teams who won a Super Bowl over this same time span were even in the top 10 in rushing yards. Those three teams were the 2013 Seahawks, 2009 Saints, and 2007 Giants. Two of these teams (Seattle and New York) were all but carried by great defensive efforts and their pass rush at times during both the regular season and the playoffs.
Can the Cowboys really do that? The answer would seem to be no.
But don't worry, Cowboys Nation, there is reason for hope still.
A good number of the teams who led the league in rushing since 2006 had nowhere near the offensive weapons nor the quarterback which the Cowboys will have in 2016.
The combination of having an elite passing game and running game will create problems for every defense the Cowboys face this season, and should help to overcome the misfortunes of teams in the past.
I also don't know if raw rushing yards are a great indicator of how good or effective of a running game the team truly has.
Consider last season's Cowboys, for example.
Darren McFadden was fourth in the NFL in rushing yards and the Cowboys were a top ten team in rushing yards, yet they finished 4-12.
What key stat did the Cowboys running game lack? Rushing touchdowns.
Since 2006, just about every team who has led the league in rushing touchdowns, not yards, has made the playoffs, including the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs a year ago who were tied with the Buffalo Bills for the league lead.
The 2015 Cowboys, on the other hand, ranked 21st in rushing touchdowns with only 8 on the season.
With all of that being said, the Cowboys running game and team success will be indicated by their number of rushing touchdowns, and short yardage conversions, much more than it will be indicated by their raw rushing yard totals.
Ezekiel Elliott may rush for about the same amount of yardage as McFadden did a season ago, but if he doubles or triples his number of touchdowns, both he and the Cowboys will be very happy come January.
Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys
It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.
WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys
This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.
While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.
What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?
Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?
Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?
Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?
All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.
Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.
Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.
What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?
What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position
UPDATE: News of Hurns saying he will sign with the Cowboys broke as this article went live.
Free Agency began a bit late for the Dallas Cowboys, but they've already done enough to get fans discussing about the latest additions to the roster. Adding help on offense, defense and special teams in form of tier-2 free agents may not be what Cowboys Nation wants to see, but I'm certain they wouldn't have enjoyed giving Sammy Watkins a three-year $48M contract, either.
However, the Cowboys are clearly in the wide receiver market after an offensively disappointing season. They have quite a few of this year's class of wide receivers prospects scheduled to visit Dallas, and they've hosted some WR free agents as well.
This week, they even signed one.
Deonte Thompson, who started seven games for the Bills last year, is coming to Dallas on a one-year $2.5M contract. The 29-year old could be the burner receiver this offense is missing and could end up being an improved version of Brice Butler for the Cowboys in 2018.
He hasn't had a great career but last season was his best year so far. Starting three games for the Bears and seven for the Bills, Thompson was able to rack up a career-high 555 yards and two touchdowns.
His best attribute as a player is definitely the speed he brings to the table and his ability to separate down the field, which he'll be looking to do on Dak Prescott's offense this season.
But there was another wide receiver visiting Dallas this week and now we wonder whether or not the Deonte Thompson signing will keep the Cowboys from targeting former Jaguars' WR Allen Hurns.
According to Todd Archer, that won't be the case.
Told the signing of Deonte Thompson does not close the door on the Cowboys' interest in Allen Hurns, who visited the team Wednesday and had dinner. Things could get interesting in the Cowboys' wide receivers' room. https://t.co/Ivt5uk9kBN
It shouldn't be. First of all, Hurns is a much better player than Thompson and would provide this offense with a receiver who can play in the "X" or in the "Z" role. We've been talking about getting Prescott a reliable target to try to give him a "best friend." Allen Hurns could be just that.
Sure, he's had a couple of down seasons, but the talent is there to take.
Simply put, the Deonte Thompson signing shouldn't stop the Cowboys from looking at WR in the first round of the NFL Draft. Allen Hurns would.
It sure would make things interesting in the wide receiver room for Dallas. Despite what many believe, Dez Bryant will probably remain a Cowboy even if Hurns is signed. Let's say the Cowboys go out there and get the 26-year old from Jacksonville and have to decide which six receivers to keep for the season.
They'd possibly have to decide among these:
- Dez Bryant
- Terrrance Williams
- Cole Beasley
- Ryan Switzer
- Allen Hurns
- Deonte Thompson
- Noah Brown
- A drafted rookie?
This is where a lot of dilemmas start taking form. Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer are basically the same player and if you're not going to use them both at the same time, do you keep them anyway? What about Terrance Williams? He could be the worst receiver to make the cut just because of his contract.
Noah Brown showed promise in 2017, are they ready to move on from him? And finally, a rookie could very well end up beating Deonte Thompson, who was guaranteed a million in his contract.
Wide receiver is indeed one of the top needs for the Dallas Cowboys. They could head to the 2018 NFL Draft needing one in the top rounds or they could be fine signing Hurns and taking a late-rounder receiver to compete in training camp for a spot on the roster.
As long as they're having a tough time deciding because they are all good, it should be fine.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR 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.
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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