It's hard to ignore how the teams moving on in the playoffs this week used their power running game to take them to the conference championship games. Do you think the Cowboys will ever make their commitment to the running game more than just coachspeak?
Rowan: I haven't seen it and won't believe it until I do with the current staff in place. The Cowboys ran more than they passed just twice this year, despite boasting a starting running back that finished fourth in the league in average per rush. Their struggling defense may play a role in their unwillingness to run and let clock go and keep scores low, but even with an elite defense I'm not sure this staff would count on the run. I still don't expect they'll admit that, even if it's what they believe.
David: If the team is molded the way Jason Garrett wants it, with Tony Romo playing quarterback and Dez Bryant playing receiver, then I doubt it. The Cowboys seem firmly entrenched in the ideology that the NFL is a passing league. To tell the truth, I agree with that sentiment. But there's still a place for a dependable ground game, as some of the league's most successful teams have proven. The mindset of the people in charge, not to mention the skillset of the players on the offense, seem to lean toward a preference to the pass, though.
LAS VEGAS, NV
All four teams that won this past weekend had one thing in common: pressure on the quarterback. Do you think the Cowboys can get the D-Line it needs in one offseason, with their cap situation?
Rowan:They'd have to make a serious commitment in the draft to fixing that spot for that to happen, maybe two players they hit on in their top three or four picks. In addition, DeMarcus Ware would have to stay healthy all year, they'd have to bring back at least one of the two between Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer. Tyrone Crawford would have to have a stellar bounce back year. I just don't see all of that happening given their cap situation, and because of that, I think the defensive line fix will be a gradual process the next couple [embedded_ad]
David: I'm thinking about this potential scenario: DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer both return to the defensive line with smaller salaries, and George Selvie is behind them as the No. 3 defensive end. Jason Hatcher leaves, but Tyrone Crawford and Ben Bass return to join Nick Hayden. In addition, the Cowboys draft a talented defensive lineman early in the draft and maybe a project guy later on. Obviously, this involves a lot of variables. Everyone would have to stay healthy, and veterans like Ware and Spencer would actually have to produce. And of course it's hard to predict the production of rookie contributors. But it's definitely feasible, although not necessarily likely, that the Cowboys could improve the pass rush by a good bit by the time training camp rolls around.