If you followed the links in Rabble's morning news posts then you have already read Bob Sturm's thoughts about the Dallas running game. While I will not go into all of his comments here, the one thing that should catch your attention is what Sturm had to say about how DeMarco Murray should be able to help resolve a long standing issue the Dallas has faced when playing the Washington Redskins.
They are getting a solid year from their offensive line and are now able to line up and run the football. They have not run this well since 2009 and they need to figure this out quickly to deal with Jim Haslett and his blitzes that terrorize the Cowboys offense over the years.- Bob Sturm
Jim Haslett has killed Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys with his array of blitzes over the past few meetings. Now, with the offensive line finally figuring out the zone blocking scheme and Murray running like the ball carrier that the Dallas Cowboys feel that he can be, Jason Garrett has a weapon that can make the Skins pay for Haslett's aggressiveness. If they team can force the Washington defense to respect the run, they will have to protect against being gashed on the ground and will not be able to resort to overloading the pass rush.
It is not a given that Murray will experience success against the Washington defense; historically they have presented a challenge for the Dallas running back. His best outing against Washington was a combined 105 yard effort during his rookie season. Still, things have started to come together for the running game, and the Cowboys have gained nearly 600 yards on the ground over the last four games. For the first time in recent memory, Dallas has established a consistently effective ground attack.
Although Murray is the one who gets all the glory, the real credit goes to the offensive line. There is no reason to believe that, on this coming Sunday, they cannot continue to deliver the type of effort that has defined their recent efforts. For them, it is a matter of keeping up what they have been doing recently.
"Up front, we have a better understanding of the zone, how to approach the blocking and techniques. It’s just, as the season progresses, you’re supposed to get better. Obviously, that’s what we’ve done." - Mackenzy Bernadeau
That effort has been noticed around the NFL, most recently by the Green Bay Packers.
"Oh, my God. It's the best zone scheme in the league. The last four weeks, nobody could stop it, their zone scheme, and they gave up on it. We're just happy they did. We were like, 'OK, we'll take it.’ " - Ryan Pickett, Green Bay DT
The recent success has not been a fluke, it is the result of concerted effort and effective coaching. A lot of hard work has gone into reviving a ground attack in Dallas, and on Sunday they will have another opportunity to indulge in the fruits of their labors. The Cowboys have a power running game.
The biggest question, the one Pickett alluded to, is will the Cowboys commit to the effort? For reasons beyond the grasp of anyone but themselves, the Dallas offensive brain-trust does not seem to trust the running game. Perhaps the lesson has been learned and reasonable decisions will be made; unfortunately, that is something that I will only believe when I see it happen.
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