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Mailbag: What Is the Cause Of The Lackluster Running Game?



What seems to be the reason for the poor running game? Is it play-calling, bad run blocking, etc.?

Rowan: If that question was easy to answer, I'm sure Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan would have fixed it by now. I think for the most part this line has been better than advertised at giving Tony Romo time in the pocket, but they haven't generated much of a push in the running game. The few times they did open up holes, the running back couldn't find them quick enough. It's hard to have any reliance on the running game when you hand it to backs just 13 times in a game, but when the team averages 2.3 yards per carry, it makes sense why they shy away from it. A shifty back like Lance Dunbar might work in this system, but if he can't hold onto the ball it won't matter. 

David: One thing I'll add on to Rowan's answer is that it seemed like the running game improved a bit on the limited basis that Brian Waters entered the game. On the Cowboys' lone touchdown drive, with Waters blocking, Murray carried three times for 10 yards with runs of five and six yards. Hopefully that's a trend and not an anomaly as Waters continues to progress toward more playing time.


Play calling the first two games has been very conservative, with the exception of the first quarter of the Chiefs game. When can we expect the high caliber offense we saw all last year? [embedded_ad]

Rowan: I don't know that we saw a high caliber offense all of last year, for starters. Going back to the beginning of 2012, they scored 21 points in the opener, seven the next, 16 the next and 18 the week after. They relied on a passing game to get back in games, and sometimes it panned out. Other times it didn't. The same thing happened against the Chiefs. They don't have a running game they can rely on right now, and when the passing game stalls, there's not much to do to put points on the board. Throwing to Dez Bryant is probably the best option. They can't go away from him.

David: It probably starts with the running game. The Cowboys need to prove they can hurt the defense on the ground before any defense backs off and allows Tony Romo a lot of time to throw. The offensive line has surrendered five sacks through two games, but it certainly doesn't look, to me at least, like Romo has been running for his life. If the defense is concerned about a running threat, I'd guess you'd see some spaces open up for a more dynamic passing attack. But the Cowboys have to find that running threat first.

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