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Mailbag: 2016 Run Game vs. 2021 Passing Game?


Would you prefer the 2022 Cowboys offense has the 2016-like run game dominance or the 2021 passing game numbers? For me, it's the 2016 running attack. – THOMAS NARRO / ARLINGTON, MA

Nick: I think this is a good question. And it usually comes down to an old-school vs. new-school approach. That being said, it probably makes sense that I'll take the old-school approach and say 2016 running game. To me, if the Cowboys can get back to running the ball the way they did back then, it'll make life so much easier on Dak. If they're running the ball, they will have more success in the red-zone and short-yardage, which extends drives. Plus, you can close out games much better if you know you can run the ball when you want. Passing the ball around the yard is great, but there are always moments when you just have to "run" out the clock and it's harder to do so when you're not consistent up front.

Rob: I would say the 2016 run game, too, because it's no coincidence that Dak's passer rating typically rises when they're moving guys off the ball and getting the play-action game going with some balance. (That's for all quarterbacks, really.) Run blocking was probably Tyler Smith's best skill at Tulsa, so the hope is he can help there right away. The offensive line is much more in transition now than it was in 2016. The run game is the biggest key for the offense finding more consistency this season. That said, you have to hit chunk plays in the passing game to score points in this league.

Are there any players from last year's practice squad that we should look at as a potential roster player this year? – GREGORY SMITH / CLAYTON, OH

Nick: Of course, there are always going to be guys that can work their way onto the roster, but I still think it's very tough. Just look at the draft picks from last year who didn't play much – Farniok, Fehoko, Mukuamu,Nahshon Wright and even Kelvin Joseph. Those guys alone are going to be battling for time, along with the new crop of rookies. So it's going to be a challenge for those who didn't even make it to the roster last year. But guys like Brandon Smith and T.J. Vasher might have a shot at wide receiver. Safety Tyler Coyle is another guy who could factor into the mix, too.

Rob: Maybe JaQuan Hardy as a third running back? Maybe Nick Ralston as a fullback/special teams guy? Wide receiver Brandon Smith has good size and special teams potential like Noah Brown did coming out of Ohio State. Smith will be among seven first-year players eligible to participate in this week's rookie minicamp.

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