Since the days of DeMarco Murray, the Dallas Cowboys have been a running team. Now under Mike McCarthy, will they continue to be a running team?
The introduction of heavily running the ball for the Dallas Cowboys began under former head coach Jason Garrett in 2014. This saw former running back DeMarco Murray run the ball 392 times, and a playoff appearance for the Cowboys.
Now, Garrett is gone and new head coach Mike McCarthy is calling the shots. Will Dallas continue to be a running team under a historically pass-heavy McCarthy?
Running With a Bang
In his first stint as the Packers head coach, McCarthy split the ball a bit, running 431 times while passing for 630. Green was able to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, in 14 games, and made his mark.
That was only one of five seasons in which McCarthy coached the Packers, that he had a 1,000-yard rusher. So, of 13 seasons there were only five times there were 1,000-yard rushers. That’s only 38 percent of the time.
To be fair, he had Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback and average running backs. If you got a great quarterback and a “meh” running back, you’re going to throw the ball.
Now, what Packers running backs were able to eclipse 1,000 yards under McCarthy? Eddie Lacy did it twice, Ryan Grant did it twice, and Green did it once.
So, it’s not as if McCarthy never had success with running backs, it just didn’t happen often. He also never had any big-name backs other than Green which lasted one season.
Grant had two years of being fed the ball every other play, and I wouldn’t consider Lacy and his 2 years of stardom to count either. The point here is that McCarthy was able to do it.
Rolling into Arlington
The Cowboys are blessed to have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott. He has shown that he can be a workhorse, a receiver out of the backfield, and consistently effective. It also helps to have amongst the best offensive lines in the league.
In four seasons, Zeke has 3 seasons of more than 1,000 yards and then one with 900 in only 10 games. If you wanted to, you can take the yards after 1,000 and make another 1,000-yard season. McCarthy should be able to maintain a great run game.
The bigger question would be how much would they run the ball. That question would likely be answered by the play of quarterback Dak Prescott. If Dak isn’t playing as good, then Zeke will get the rock more.
If McCarthy can utilize the play-action (which has worked great for Dallas) then both the passing game and run game will benefit from it. Because of how good Dallas is set to run the ball, it makes no sense to not use it.
That’s like buying that car you’ve always wanted and not driving it or looking at it. You just leave it in your garage and forget about it. Hey, if that’s your thing, good for you but Dallas is looking to win a Super Bowl.
The Cowboys won’t be the run-heavy team they once were because of McCarthy’s willingness to make Dak one of the better quarterbacks in the league. To question Zeke’s effectiveness nevertheless is just dumb. You can give the man five touches and he can make 50 yards and a touchdown of it.
Seasons similar to this past 2019 look like they are in store. Ones where yeah, Zeke is going to get the ball and make plays, but Dak is going to be “the guy.” This upcoming season is going to be an interesting one.