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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Cowboys must keep running

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

In each of the first eight games of Jason Garrett's head coaching career, his Dallas Cowboys rushed for at least 100 yards. That streak came to an end Sunday night, when Dallas attained just 64 yards on 26 carries in a 27-24 loss to the Jets. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck said the Jets spent most of the game stacked against the run, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
On the Jets' run defense – "It was an eight-man front, basically the whole game, and covered both guards and covered our center. They tried to take away the run, and as it turned out, they did a good job of that, but really, they couldn't slow us down too much throwing the ball. We kind of slowed ourselves."

The Jets can overload against the run because they trust their great cornerbacks to cover the receivers. And there's no shame in not being able to run the ball against the Jets. But whether you're a Cowboys coach, a Cowboys fan or you simply picked Felix Jones in the second round of your fantasy draft, you've been wondering all preseason what you'd see from Jones and the Cowboys' rushing attack.

Jones got 17 of those 26 carries and averaged just 2.6 yards. No one else in the backfield had more than three carries. So, for you fantasy owners, it looks as if Jones is the guy. As for you Cowboys fans, you'd better hope those Cowboys coaches stick to the run even when it's not working as well as they'd like it to work. As brilliant as all of its passing-game weapons are, the Cowboys' offense runs best when it runs first and passes second. Garrett knows this, and the game plans from the second half of 2010 showed it.

Expect a greater commitment to the run going forward. It may not pay dividends right away this week, as the 49ers are a stingy run defense as well, but if the Cowboys commit to trying to run the ball rather than simply abandoning the run for the pass when the run isn't working, there's a chance they could limit Tony Romo's chances to make the kinds of mistakes that cost them the game Sunday.