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Running vs. passing offense

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JJT isn't satisfied with the running game. I don't totally agree with his hypothesis, but I do agree with this paragraph.

The problem, it seems, is that too many times four players carry out their assignments and one does not, leading to an unblocked defender who wrecks the play. And in cases where each of the linemen do their jobs properly, the running backs don't always carry out their assignments.

That was truly the case when I watched the game film. Several times on runs designed for the inside, outside blitzers or the backside defensive end made the tackle in the backfield or near the line of scrimmage. Dallas didn't do a good job of chipping those players to give the back enough time to hit the hole. Other times, the blocks of Colombo, Rivera and Flozell didn't get any push on the line, leading to dead plays.

But Dallas was intent on letting the pass set up the run in this game. On their first two series, they threw the ball 8 times and ran it 5 times. In the first half (including plays that were called back or moved forward due to penalty), Dallas was passing at close to a 2 to 1 ratio, which is very unusual for the Cowboys. But it was a successful combination until Drew Bledsoe turned the ball over. In the second half, they ran the ball frequently on their long drive which ended in a missed FG, but ended up passing more than running after that.

So overall it was an unusual game for what we've come to expect from a Parcells coached team. Or maybe it won't be that unusual this year, our receivers are one of the strengths of the team, so maybe we will be more of a pass-first offense this year. Parcells proved during his stint with the Patriots that he's not afraid to throw the ball early and often. Whatever the case, we didn't show a strong commitment to the run, but it was fairly effective. You can take out longs runs and make the average yards per carry on the other runs look like a bad day at the office. But with a small sample size of runs to start with, that's badly skewing the stats.

We did end up averaging 4 yards per rush, which is a number we'd take all year long. We'll just have to wait and see if we run the ball more as the season progresses, or if we continue to use the pass as the dominant offensive weapon. In the end, if Bledsoe hadn't turned the ball over so often, I don't think we'd hear any complaints about the running game.