Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/17/13
There are certain sounds that are evocative enough to promise trouble is upon you. It’s when you hear the squealing of tires braking on pavement when you hear a chorus of children singing hauntingly in a scary movie when you hear your wife say “We need to talk.’’ The noise that causes those same sort of chills to run up the spines of Dallas Cowboys fans? “We have to re-commit to the running game.’’ That is the solemn pledge of coach Jason Garrett. It comes in the wake of a 17-16 loss at Kansas City in which: Starting running back DeMarco Murray carries just 12 times for a paltry 25 yards. The team totaled 13 run plays in 55 snaps. There were no designated run plays in the fourth quarter. The final 19 plays run were all passes. “We have to re-commit to the running game.’’ This should be the mantra after a two-game opening to the season that has featured 34 running plays and 91 passing plays. The ineffectiveness of the former leads to the over-reliance on the latter … and next thing you know the Cowboys find themselves in third-and-too-long situations. In the two games the 1-1 Cowboys are 8-of-26 in converting third downs. The ground-game drought is not a new phenomenon in these parts. Dallas hasn’t employed a 1000-yard rusher since 2006 – and remember in a 16-game season it only requires a back to average 62.5 yards per game to reach the milestone. This is a team that no matter who is calling the plays – Garrett before offensive coordinator Bill Callahan now and increased authority for quarterback Tony Romo too – tends to gravitate back to the thing it’s undeniably does well: Throw the football between the 20’s. If it threw the football effectively enough in the red zone the lack of a running game wouldn’t be the issue of the day. The NFL has indisputably become a throwing league. But even more than that it’s a scoring league. And if you can’t run you can’t set up convert-able third downs you can’t protect leads you can’t maintain the balance necessary to keep a defense wobbly and you can’t win.
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