To Win, Cowboys Must Pass

Being a run-first team is a great concept. You pound the ball early in the game, get the defense tired, and you just keep pounding the ball until the game is over. You minimize turnovers that way (despite DeMarco Murray’s recent bout of fumbles), and anybody who misses the 90′s Cowboys -all of us- have to be excited about this team reverting back to the smash-mouth style of football that added three Super Bowls to the trophy case about 20 years ago.

Hey, I’m all about 90′s nostalgia. Did you hear Coca Cola brought Surge back!? I ordered four cases as soon as I heard. And they’re all mine – no sharing. I proposed to host a 90′s-themed party at my house the other day and a friend of mine noted that my Cowboys-themed man-cave is the perfect location for such an event, because nothing screams 90′s nostalgia like an entire room themed around a team whose last glory days were smack in the middle of the 90′s. It was actually depressing how much that burn made total sense.

Here’s the problem with being a run-dependent team, though: recent history tells us that no matter how great your running game is, you won’t win a Super Bowl unless you can pass the ball. If you don’t believe me, ask Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Those guys are the NFL’s two most-recent 2,000-yard rushers. In 2012 when Peterson eclipsed 2,000 yards, the Vikings went 10-6 and lost in the Wild Card round to the Packers. In 2009 when Johnson did it, his team went 8-8. Sure, there are examples of teams winning Super Bowls with great run games, but in almost every case over the last decade, those teams were also perfectly sufficient passing the ball when needed. It’s been almost 15 years since Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl – I think that example is officially antiquated. The game has changed in a lot of ways since then.

Don’t get me wrong: a great running game is certainly invaluable. My concern with the Cowboys right now is that I’m not sure they are sufficient enough passing the football to beat teams (like the Saints this week) who can put up a lot of points fast. Let’s face it, even if the Cowboys had a top five defense, the rules of the game today favor the offense and particularly the passing game. High-powered passing offenses can score points so quickly that the only way to beat them is by taking to the air.

Thankfully, Tony Romo had himself a pretty nice game against the Rams last Sunday. There was the pick-six interception in the first half, but outside of that play, I thought Romo made strides and really started to look more like “vintage Romo.” I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though. To say that the Rams game proves that Romo is back to his old self does a disservice to the great moments we have seen from Romo in the past. It was a step in the right direction, but it still wasn’t enough.

I’m particularly concerned with how Dez Bryant is faring in Scott Linehan’s offense. Last week against the Titans, they forced the ball to Bryant on a lot of short passes. This week, save for the botched assignment by the Rams secondary (let’s call it what it was), Bryant had 5 catches for 21 yards. I don’t have the answers with me right now, but somewhere between Romo’s abilities, Bryant’s abilities, and Linehan’s passing scheme, I’m struggling to have confidence that these three are going to be able to team up and flip the switch on the passing game when it becomes necessary.

Leading into the season, there was a lot of buzz that guys like Gavin Escobar, Lance Dunbar, and Cole Beasley were going to have a bigger role in the passing game. The media was speculating it, and the coaches were confirming it. So far, these things aren’t happening. While the Cowboys are 2-1 right now, I still don’t see a team that’s ready to break the .500 barrier in a positive way. You can lean on the run more, but you’ve got to be able to pass the football to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. At the end of the day, being run-heavy is really not any better than being pass-heavy – the Cowboys need to attain balance to be successful.

To Win, Cowboys Must Pass To Win, Cowboys Must Pass Reviewed by Mr. DCStands4 on 11:46:00 AM Rating: 5

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