Cowboys looking for new Moe Williams

May, 21, 2014
May 21
10:45
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- In talking to Dallas Cowboys passing game coordinator Scott Linehan last week during the rookie minicamp for this story, he mentioned the success he has had in the past with a running game.

[+] EnlargeScott Linehan
Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsScott Linehan has a track record of using running backs efficiently in the passing game.
Since his arrival with the Cowboys, most of the discussion has been about how much he threw the ball with the Detroit Lions. He pointed out -- not in a defensive way -- that the Minnesota Vikings ran it well when he was the coordinator when he had Randy Moss catching Daunte Culpepper's passes. Many assume, he said, that he had Robert Smith running the ball.

He didn't. He had Michael Bennett as his lead back.

Linehan was also quick to mention another back.

"Moe Williams was a big part of it, too," he said. "He had like 600 yards that year. He is my all-time favorite third-down guy."

There have been questions about the Cowboys' receivers not named Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams and the roles of Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris and Devin Street.

While the Cowboys have been a three-wide receiver dominant team in recent years, the need for a 50-catch No. 3 receiver isn't a requirement, unless there are injuries. With Jason Witten, the third receiver is mitigated. With the Cowboys looking to get Gavin Escobar more involved, the No. 3 receiver role could be diminished.

But Linehan's mention of Williams was interesting. He will use the running backs in the passing game. In 2003, Williams caught 65 passes for 644 yards and three touchdowns. From 2002-04, he caught 113 passes.

Linehan's top backs in Detroit, Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, caught 56 and 53 passes respectively. They combined for 1,053 yards. With St. Louis, Steven Jackson had a 90-catch season. When Linehan and Jason Garrett were together in Miami, Ronnie Brown caught 32 passes and Ricky Williams caught 17.

Last year, DeMarco Murray caught 53 passes for 350 yards. Injuries prevented Lance Dunbar from being used as much as the Cowboys wanted to use him in 2013. He caught just seven passes for 59 yards. He ran 30 times for 150 yards.

If he can stay healthy, he could be Linehan's next Moe Williams.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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