IRVING, Texas – Complete team. Pick your poison. Variety of weapons.
However you want to call it, all teams – no matter the league or level – want to be balanced on offense.
They want to run when they need to run. Pass when they need to pass. Run when the defense is expecting pass and pass when they're preparing for a run.
That's the goal of every NFL or college coach when asked before the season about offensive philosophy. Yes, it's always the goal but not always easy to obtain.
The Cowboys have been striving for that balance for years and some years, this team has been able to run the ball well enough to offset a strong passing game. Then again, DeMarco Murray became the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Cowboys since Tony Romo took over as the full-time starting quarterback in 2007.
But if we've seen anything from this offense so far this year, it's that the Cowboys can be as balanced as they've ever been. And the reason is simple: they're running it better than ever before.
Murray is leading the NFL, by far, through the first four games with 534 yards. Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell is second in the league with 378 yards. Murray's 149 yards with two touchdowns Sunday night in a 38-17 win over the Saints made him just the fourth running back in NFL history to start a season with four straight 100-yard games with a touchdown included, joining the company of O.J. Simpson, Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith.
Without a doubt, the running game has changed the entire dynamic of this offense.
"We are going to be a little tough to deal with just because of our ability to run the football," Romo said. "We have some guys on the outside that are pretty good players as well. We are just a complete unit. In my time in the NFL, this is as complete a unit as I have been a part of, and I think you can almost simplify the game a little bit. Each week you are going to do some new things but on the other side of the token, you've got to run, catch, and throw and if you do those things well you've got a chance."
Run, catch and throw. Sounds like some serious balance.
And having more than one or two offensive weapons is now something that opposing defenses are finding out. The Saints found it out on the first drive of the game Sunday night when Romo hit seven straight passes on the opening drive, and none of them went to Dez Bryant. Jason Witten and Terrance Williams each caught two with Williams hauling in the touchdown pass in the end zone.
"You're able to see everybody's true skill set when you have complimentary guys around you," Romo said. "We haven't always had that ability. You can take Dez away, but it's hard to take Dez away when you have a really good player on the other side. You can take Dez away, but you're probably going to get a lot of yards in the run game. Without complimentary players who are really good, you can't do both of those things. We are going to run into teams that can take away both of those things and we are going to have to adjust, and continue to execute, but we've done a pretty good job of that so far."
The Cowboys rank eighth in the NFL in total offense, averaging 383.8 yards, but no team is running the ball better. Dallas is first in rushing offense with a 165.0 yard average. Obviously Murray is doing the bulk of that, averaging 133.5 yards a game.
When asked after the game how important it has been to have such a good back behind him, Romo corrected the unassuming reporter. [embedded_ad]
"Well I think he is better than a good back," Romo said. "I think he is a great back. And he's playing with a great group of guys up front."
Romo added that he wants to see this offense become what the Seahawks are able to do defensively. But that only happens when you're good enough to dictate what happens in the course of the game.
"Each week in the NFL is different. But I think what you find is that we are consistently doing the same things each week, and in the past we weren't able to do that," Romo said. "When you're really good- Seattle runs the same defense each week and people have a hard time with it because they are really good. I think once you find your ability to do something consistently, it lets you know that you're probably going to be able to have it for the rest of the year."
The Cowboys can only hope the rest of the year can emulate what they've done in the first four games.