Dallas needs rushing attack

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
3:00
PM ET
Running the football is an inconsistent theme for the Cowboys this season. The Cowboys moved over 1,000 yards for the season with 144 against the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving Day.

The Cowboys are just 27th in rushing yards (1,021) in the NFL, and their 249 attempts ranks next to last in the league. Yet, if the Cowboys are going to get any success this season, DeMarco Murray needs his touches.

Murray
Murray rushed for 63 yards on 17 carries and picked up a career-high three touchdowns in the victory against the Raiders. He produced a solid game with his measured runs, and was helped by backup Lance Dunbar who rushed for a career-high 82 yards on just 12 carries.

But now Dunbar's speed is gone. He will have surgery to his left knee to repair several things including to his lateral collateral ligament. Without Dunbar, the Cowboys will rely on backups Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle.

Tanner and Randle don't have the speed of Dunbar, so it will be interesting to see how play-caller Bill Callahan uses them.

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One thing is certain, when the Cowboys rush to the left side, they are usually successful.

The Cowboys lead the NFL with a 8.6 yards per carry on runs behind left guard Ronald Leary, and when they run toward left tackle Tyron Smith, they average a solid 4.73 yards per carry.

"Anytime you run the ball well, it makes things a lot more efficient," quarterback Tony Romo said. "It gives you a chance to keep their offense off the field."

With Murray and Dunbar, the Cowboys had a better dynamic with speed and power. Dunbar is done, so the Cowboys need to discover other ways to establish the run. Murray just needs the touches, or rather, the team needs to have more confidence he can produce when given the touches.

This season, the Cowboys are 3-2 when Murray rushes for more 70 yards, and 5-0 in his career when he picks up at least 100 yards.

Murray has been patient when it comes to his touches, never one to complain, because he feels it doesn't change anything. In time he'll get more. That time could be now, especially when the Cowboys talk about wanting a balanced attack.

"It's very important, sometimes we're clicking passing the ball more than running and vice versa," Murray said. "People talk balance and things of that nature, but it's hard to be balanced at certain times and (in) certain situations, (Thanksgiving Day) it was a great job offensively by us."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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