One of the biggest questions that remain for the Dallas Cowboys going into the 2013 season is what will happen to the running game.
Last year was terrible for the Cowboys. The team finished 31st, with just 1,265 combined yards on the ground. Six running backs topped that last year.Washington Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris eclipsed that total before halftime in Week 14.
It doesn’t stop there, the Cowboys rushed for 100 or more just five times last season. They had seven games where they rushed for less than 50 yards. In the Cowboys eight losses, the team only rushed for 100 or more yards two times.
The team averaged 72 yards a game a game in their eight losses, but that is misleading, especially since the team rushed for a season-high 227 yards in the Week 6 loss against the Baltimore Ravens
LOOKING AT THE LOSES:
The teams has made steps in the offseason to improve the running game, including hire a new running backs coach, and draft a running back with durability. The team also picked up a center in the first round, that helped anchor a successful run game at the collegiate level.
You would think that this year, the Cowboys have no choice but to get better on the ground, but then again this is the same Dallas Cowboys rushing attack, that hasn’t finished better than 16th in the past three years. They haven’t had 10 touchdowns on the ground since 2010, and the last time that the team had a 1,000-yard rusher, was when Julius Jones did it in 2006.
I would like to think that the hire of veteran running backs coach Gary Brown would be a plus. Brown was a successful running back in the NFL, rushing for over 1,000 yards two times in his career, and averaging 4.2 yards per carry in eight seasons in the league. Brown was a part of that 1993 Houston Oilers team that pulled off 11 consecutive wins, so you can say that he knows a thing or two about winning.
He has also been a successful coach. No team under Brown has rushed for fewer than 3.7 yards per carry on the season. This includes his only year at Rutgers, where he utilized four running backs.
This is the same man that turned both Jerome Harrison, and Peyton Hillis into household names. He also had a fullback named Lawrence Vickers. We don’t know if Vickers (who turned 30 this year), will make the return to his Cleveland form, but if anyone can get the best out of him, it is Brown.
I also believe that third year back Demarco Murray is in the position to have a breakthrough season. This is all predicated on his ability to stay healthy. Murray did improve to 10 games last year, versus seven in his rookie season. At this pace, 13 games doesn’t sound too shabby, especially with the steal of fifth-round draft pick Joseph Randle, according to Brown. Randle will be a great addition, especially since he will be able to hold his own in pass protect situations.
Even with the possibility of improvement among the backs, the offensive line has to get off of the ball. The Callahan Experiment is in year two, which is not enough time to truly gauge the success, but if we were to judge the group, the offensive line is no better off than last year. QuarterbackTony Romo was sacked 36 times for the second straight season, and the run game regressed by well over 500 yards.
Rookie center Travis Frederick has yet to take a snap, and some are already anointing him as the next coming of Ray Donaldson. The Cowboys also brought in Gavin Escobar at tight end, but let’s be honest; no scout said that blocking is his strong suit. The guard position is still a major question mark. There is no idea of who can make it through a season, better yet, who can actually contribute. Last year, everyone was horrible at the guard position, and they are only getting older.
In my opinion, Doug Free has to beat out Jermey Parnell for the right tackle position. Parnell did a decent job towards the end of the season, and I would like to think a 26 year-old has a better chance at improving, more than a 29 year-old free, who seems to be stuck in his cheating ways. Maybe Free will make the best out this opportunity to make back the $7 million dollars that he accepted to forfeit, due to his terrible play last season.
Usually when a team has this many things going wrong, something has to go right.
Demario Davis is a featured Columnist for http://cowboys24x7.com/columnists/DeMario-Davis and a co-host for The C.A.P. Show. Along with Steven Johnson and Tony Anderson every Wednesday Night from 730-930CST on
Also Follow him on Twitter at @thedemariodavis and the radio show @thecapshow
The "Bench Mob" are articles that are posted from some of the best writers around. Giving you an all access tour of their opinions of sports.