IRVING, Texas –A third first-round pick on the offensive line could provide the tipping point to trusting the running game more.
The Cowboys finished eighth in the league in yards per rushing attempt in 2013, yet only the Falcons ran the ball fewer times. Dallas had Tony Romo in mind when the Cowboys made their first-round pick of Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin, but executive vice president Stephen Jones also thought of the running attack.
"It's going to help our running game," Jones said Friday on 105.3 FM "The Fan." "We were starting to kind of find it there at the second half of last year, and I think we can build on that and have a neat deal in terms of taking pressure off of Tony if we can establish a sound running game."
The Cowboys actually ran the ball fewer times in 2013 (336) than they did in 2012 (355), despite averaging almost a full yard more per rushing attempt last season.
With a new play-caller and offensive mind in Scott Linehan and another piece added to the offensive line in Martin, the Cowboys may choose to reverse that trend in 2014.
The addition of Martin gives the Cowboys a piece they can plug in immediately at guard and potentially kick out to tackle in the future, if they choose to do so. More importantly, Martin gives them three players, along with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, that'll be expected to anchor the offensive line for the next decade.
"That's a huge deal in terms of our future," Jones said. "These guys, Tyron and Travis and our pick, Martin, are hopefully going to be guys here the next 10 years and on past Tony's career." [embedded_ad]
A lot of the running discrepancy last year could be attributed to trailing in games and a struggling defense. Many believe the Cowboys will address the defense often the rest of the way in the draft.
Though they added a player in Martin that could help the running game, it doesn't sound like the players actually running the ball in 2014 will look much different. He said he's pleased with what they've got.
"We think we're pretty set there at the running back spot," he said.