Skip to main content


Presented by

Mailbag: Special Teams? Run Splits?


Over the years I've often wondered why you see offensive or defensive starters lining up on field goal or other special team plays. If you carry 53 professional football players on any given game day, shouldn't you be able to find capable special teamers? — GERRY HEITMAN / CAMERON, TX

David: You actually only carry 46 players on any given game day, because seven members of your roster have to be ruled inactive. So when you consider that you only have 46, and 6-8 of them are off limits (quarterbacks, starting running back, top receivers, top corners), the numbers start to dwindle. Most NFL teams play games with 7-8 active offensive linemen, so you're going to need at least a few of those guys to block. It's just a numbers game. But even still, it's rare to see a starter with a high number of special teams snaps.

Rob: Dave nailed it. The Cowboys don't play top starters on special teams and really never have – Darren Woodson doing that back in the day was rare but sheer numbers requires some guys who get regular snaps on offense and defense to pull double duty.

Now that Zeke is back healthy, what percentage do you believe the run versus pass ratio will be? I think it's Prescott 70% and Zeke 30%. So for every seven passes there will be three runs. — JESSE LOZANO / CORPUS CHRISTI, TX

David: For better or for worse, I think this is an organization that is convinced the path to a championship lies in the run game. Obviously, a quarterback as talented as Dak is going to have his opportunities to make plays, but the Cowboys looked their best last year when they were dominating on the ground to the tune of 150+ yards. I think the Cowboys want to force defenses out of two-high looks with their ground game, and the way they're going to do that is by leaning on Zeke and (hopefully) an improved offensive line.

Rob: Last year the breakdown was 647 pass attempts to 473 runs. That's 57 to 43% pass vs. run. A lot of that is dependent on how games go. In September blowout wins over the Eagles and Giants, Dallas had decidedly more rush attempts than passes. I agree with Dave that a top priority this offseason is getting the run game back on track, which means they do want to strive for balance. But they also won't bang their heads against the wall if defenses are playing them a certain way (see: Tampa Bay in the opener).

Related Content