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Mailbag: Issues Running In Short Yardage? Offseason Position Needs?

KYLE COXEAST DUBUQUE, ILLINOIS

I don't understand why everyone is surprised we can't run the ball in short yardage. Is it an oversimplification to say teams are stacking the box because there is no downfield passing threat with Romo/Dez out?

David: As is often the case in the NFL, there's a variety of variables at work in that issue. You can put some of that on the execution of the offensive line. But I absolutely think it's fair to say that the Cowboys' inefficiency throwing the ball has made it harder for them to run the ball in obvious run situations.

Rob: I don't think it's an oversimplification. To a large degree, not having Romo and/or Dez on the field absolutely factors into short-yardage situations – even the running game in general. Teams have stacked the box against Darren McFadden all year. That doesn't mean it simply can't be done; look at how well they've run the ball for the most part the last several weeks. But I do think when No. 9 is out there, it keeps defenses more honest.

VIC WILLIAMSBOSTON, MA

Putting on your GM hats, what positions do you see as the top 2-3 needs going into the coming offseason?

David:Let's just get it out of the way and say the Cowboys need to address the quarterback position. Tony Romo obviously needs a better backup than he had this year. But there are more issues. They have several free agents at defensive end, headlined by Greg Hardy. Their defensive backfield also looks shaky, with Morris Claiborne heading toward free agency and Orlando Scandrick coming off a major injury. So I think Dallas needs to address its pass rush and its cornerback situation, first and foremost. It wouldn't hurt to add some depth to the running back situation, either.

Rob: A lot depends on which free-agents-to-be remain on the roster in 2016. But Jerry Jones has already said backup quarterback is a high priority, so let's start there. Orlando Scandrick will be healthy next year, but cornerback could be a need with Mo Claiborne nearing the end of his rookie contract, as well as the possibility of Byron Jones becoming a full-time safety at some point. You also can never have enough pass rushers, either at tackle at end.

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