The Cowboys are 6-6 with four tough games (Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Washington) to play. It is very likely that there will be another season without reaching the playoffs. One of the main reasons for the disappointing season is a pedestrian running game. It’s fashionable to say that the NFL is all about passing, but a balanced offense and tight defense still result in plenty of wins.
Dallas is near the end of the NFL in 2012 with just 277 carries for 989 yards (3.6 for each) and 6 touchdowns. The Cowboys last season were 24th in rushing attempts, 30th in rushing touchdowns (just 5!) And 18th in yards. Not producing a strong running attack puts tremendous pressure on Tony Romo to make plays.
The offensive line is the first place to evaluate when a team cannot run the ball. Dallas has talent in position of skill, but not much in the trenches. Left tackle Tyron Smith is the only talented offensive lineman in Dallas whose best playing days are ahead of him. Right tackle Doug Free has backed down and is struggling with pass protection. Free has been average as a run blocker and a position the Cowboys thought they could improve on.
The inside of Dallas’ offensive line is the weakest area in the unit. The days of Mark Stepnoski, Nate Newton and Larry Allen are behind us. The Cowboys are so weak at center that they really fail, due to injury, to an average Phil Costa. Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau have been mediocre on guard. G Chance Warmack (Alabama), C Barrett Jones (Alabama), RT DJ Fluker (Alabama), G Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina), C Khaled Holmes (USC), G / OT Dallas Thomas (Tennessee) and G Larry Warford ( Kentucky))) should all be on the team’s radar. The 2013 NFL draft is solid if a team needs offensive linemen. Dallas could use the addition of a couple of quality young offensive linemen to help strengthen its rushing offense. This would only help Tony Romo and the defense.
The Cowboys are also kidding themselves if they think they’re up for a run with DeMarco Murray. The former Oklahoma star is a good back but struggles to avoid leg injuries. Murray struggled to stay healthy in college and his first two NFL seasons have been marked by injuries. His broken ankle ended a good rookie season in 2011 and a sprained ligament in his foot cost him 6 games this season. Makes Dallas fans marvel even more at Emmitt Smith’s durability.
DeMarco Murray is part of the solution as a runner, but his relatively long legs for a runner and lack of a low center of gravity aren’t conducive to 16 load-handling games. Murray needs help and Felix Jones is not the partner to match him with. Jones has average vision and struggles to stay healthy. The former first-round pick (22nd player in the 2008 NFL Draft) never justified the high pick, and the Cowboys shouldn’t quit. Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State), Eddie Lacy (Alabama), Giovanni Bernard (North Carolina) and Montee Ball (Wisconsin) are all running backs the Cowboys will look closely at in the next draft.
The Dallas Cowboys have a rich tradition in managing soccer. Rebuilding the offensive line (especially the inside) and finding the right back to pair with DeMarco Murray could be the team’s ticket back to the playoffs and even postseason success.