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Mailbag: How Much Pass-Run Balance On Offense?


With the emergence of Dak Prescott and with Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins slimming down, has this offense transitioned from run-first to pass-first? Seems like the offense will be put on Dak's back and he will be slinging it around. — KYLE LEINEN / DES MOINES, IA

Rob: If you're asking if Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore plan to ditch the run game, no, it doesn't sound like that's the plan. McCarthy said last week that a healthy number is north of 30 carries per game. That means you're controlling the clock, you're creating chances for play-action, and it probably means you're winning, too. It won't always happen that way, and McCarthy has indicated that he wants to be mindful of Ezekiel Elliott's workload during the season so he can be fresh down the stretch. There are so many great options and matchups in the passing game that obviously it will be a focus. But I don't think his goal is to be completely pass happy.

David: I have yet to meet an NFL coach who is willing to forego the run game the way that you see at the college level. Mike McCarthy clearly wants to establish a more effective run game than what we saw last year. But I do hope the Cowboys realize that the ground game is the way to protect a lead, while the passing game is the way to build a lead. Dak doesn't need to throw the ball 45 times a game, but his arm is this team's best bet to win games.

So, I hear that the results of preseason games don't matter. Isn't there something to be said about comparing the camp roster's depth, readiness and level of talent by their performance in those games? Or are the players still getting to know the system and each other, and the coaches are experimenting with things to the point that it means little to nothing? — JOHN GORRIE / TX

Rob: Oh, coaches will tell you the preseason means something. For one thing, coaches don't like to lose, ever. I do agree that at the end of the day, it's more about self-scouting than anything else. I doubt there's a ton of game-planning for the Steelers. Several times McCarthy has referred to the installations in camp. How smooth those go in practice, and how all that information translates to the field Thursday night, will give him an indication of where the team is after a handful of padded practices.

David: The results definitely matter — just not the final score. The depth of this team is very young, and very inexperienced. The Cowboys drafted 11 rookies this year, and last year's rookie class never got to have a preseason. I couldn't care less about who wins the Hall of Fame Game, but it will be a massive opportunity for these guys to show how they handle competition in a live, unscripted setting, with a lot of eyeballs on them.

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