Committing to run could be counterproductive

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
12:58
PM ET

IRVING, Texas – Scroll all the way down the NFL rushing offense rankings to find the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys rank dead last in rushing yards per game (78.7) and per carry (3.5). Only the Saints have fewer rushing attempts than the Cowboys’ 244.

Yet an argument could be made that the Cowboys have run the ball too much, given their lack of success.

Take the last two games, for example. The Cowboys tried to establish the run and have a balanced offense in the first half of both games. They failed miserably, averaging less than three yards per carry, consistently putting Tony Romo in third-and-long situations.

The Cowboys’ totals from the last two first halves: 192 yards and three points.

After abandoning the run after halftime due to being in desperation comeback mode, the Cowboys’ offense clicked. Their totals from the last two second halves, when they called only seven designed runs: 586 yards and 51 points.

Perhaps the possible return of DeMarco Murray can make a difference in the running game. But if the Cowboys are getting stuffed in the early going again, it’d probably be counterproductive to keep pounding away.

“You certainly don’t want to just give up on things when they don’t work the first time,” Garrett said. “You want to be persistent with them, and particularly the running game. The residual effects of the running game are really positive – positive for your offensive line, for your quarterback, for your defense – so you have to be patient and persistent with it.

“But at some point, you have to say, ‘We’re putting ourselves in more difficult positions throwing the football if we’re doing this over and over again and not having any success with it.’”

The Cowboys have won only one of the last 15 games when Romo attempted 40-plus passes, but that's a chicken-and-egg stat. In most of those games, he threw the ball so often because the Cowboys were in comeback mode.

It’s far from an ideal game plan, but the only success the Cowboys’ offense has had the last couple of weeks came when it abandoned the NFL’s worst running game and relied solely on Romo’s right arm. If the running game's woes continue, no need to wait a half to commit to airing it out.

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