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Welcome to a bit of a special issue of this column. I’m not surprised to see overreaction to the Dallas Cowboys 2015 season, but this is exactly the time to remain calm and just don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. When last year a lot of people said that we needed just two or three adjustments to have a Super Bowl caliber team , and that anyone could run 2000 yds behind this OL, well they were overreacting to a particularly positive situation. Exactly what happens now where I hear talk of reconstruction, new HC or Coordinators, or take a QB with the first pick at all costs. Calm down guys, this isn’t the time to be impulsive.
Last year, the running game, the “smash mouth football” was the trademark of this team who could boast to have stepped onto two NFC powerhouse field like Seattle and Green Bay, and dominate the battle of the trenches. In Seattle they ran 30 times with Romo under center for 156 yds (5.2 per carry), in Green Bay, in the “frozen tundra”, were 24 runs from under center for 131 yds (5.5), and could have been much more if Murray had not lost that fumble.
In the same 2015 games they were without Romo under center, but with Matt Cassel, and if in Seattle the result was mediocre, 19 runs from under centers for 72 yds (3.7), at Green Bay on Sunday evening, in one of the most recent worst offensive performances, the Cowboys ran 17 times from under the center for 166 yds (9.7). Certainly the three “big runs” have helped to inflate those numbers, but if you watched the game closely, you’ll notice that the runs certainly haven’t been the problem of the offense.
So we must return to that 1 of 14 on the third or fourth down conversions. In 2014, in the two games we have mentioned, there were a total of 25 third downs with 14 conversions by the Cowboys (56%), in the same two games this year, again 25 3rd downs, only 5 conversions (20%). From third in the NFL in 2014 to third last in 2015. But it’s right here that, rather than scream and cry and ask for the heads of coaches and players, we have to go find out our certainties. And it’s here where we really regret losing our starting QB, the one who converts those third and 6 which give Linehan the chance to put the ball in the hands of his RB, to let this team do what it does best.
I know, I didn’t convince you, but we’re all still in shock, and we can find some relief beginning do some shopping lists for the off season, and see what HC we could sign, but, while acknowledging that 2015 was not just “the year of the Dallas Cowboys”, the statistics today speak of 1500+ rushing yds (4.5 per carry), this means that what they did well last year, they do well again this year. Perhaps purges or revolutions aren’t necessary, some improvements and adjustments (especially in those “Jumbo Packages”) will be needed, yes, but with their starting QB at the helm, and perhaps with a young RB to give a hand, this OL will be still one of the best in the NFL, as it has been this year.