IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys have abandoned a struggling running attack in the second half of games for a variety of reasons.
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said the offense tweaked a few things in the ground game during the bye week that he hopes will quell some of the issues. He said the offense needs to be able to establish the running game, and the success of the fullback and the running back tend to go hand in hand.
"I've always believed that the fullback is the eyes of the running game," Callahan said. "He's the eyes of the tailback. A lot of people in this league really follow the fullback to the hole. We try to change that up in terms of misdirection."
Fixing the running game has been a primary focus for Callahan, head coach Jason Garrett and the offensive line during the long break. Garrett said fullback Lawrence Vickers also factors into the running game mix, both positively and negatively.
"You don't say, 'Boy, Lawrence Vickers isn't getting his job done. That's why we're not running the football,'" Garrett said. "That's not the case at all. He needs to play better, but we all need to play better."
When the Cowboys signed Vickers in the offseason, they didn't anticipate being toward the bottom of the league with the No. 29 rushing offense through five weeks.
Callahan said the personnel groupings may change until consistency is found in the running game, but he likes what Vickers can provide as a fullback. Vickers led the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in four of his six seasons in the NFL, spending last year in Houston and the previous five in Cleveland.
"He has a presence," Callahan said. "He understands the running game coming out of the Houston system. That's what we liked when we saw him in free agency. He'll only continue to get better."