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The Dallas Cowboys Ground Game Will Make The Defense Better In 2014

Emmitt Smith has been outspoken in his belief that the Dallas Cowboys biggest opportunity for improvement lies in pounding the rock. He feels that this is the key to making everything, even the defense, better.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

He is a running back, so naturally you would expect Emmitt Smith to be a strong advocate of the running game, so when he takes a position that the Dallas Cowboys should run more frequently it would be easy to pass his statements off as positional bias. Well, it would be if Mr. Smith did not back up his statements with solid opinions. Recently Smith made the statement that by relying more on DeMarco Murray and his cohorts the team could greatly improve its defense.

"One thing about defense that I’ve learned in my years of playing the game, it doesn’t take much for a defense to catch fire and perform at a level that can take them from one place to the next. think a lot of the problems our defense had last year are No. 1 injuries, No. 2 not being balanced offensively, and putting our defense in bad positions is something that definitely hurt us, and not being able to run the football also hurt us, because we couldn’t eat up the clock when we needed to, and we made some poor decisions offensively." - Emmitt Smith

That statement, especially the part about being able eat up the clock, rings true for many of us. The 2013 Cowboys had opportunities where they were able to move the ball on the ground and where they had the lead, but yet they insisted on putting the ball in the air. Fans need to look no further than the game against the Green Bay Packers to see the evidence of this. With a 26-3 lead the 'Boys promptly went to the air 23 times while running only seven times in managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Had the Cowboys simply took the time to pound the rock and let the clock run down, the Pack would have run out of time long before they managed to take the lead. Even if the team had gone three and out in it's attempts to run the ball, they would have managed to kill several minutes off of the clock with each possession. As it was, that was unlikely to have occurred since Dallas was dominating Green Bay on the ground.

Either way, a ground-pounding strategy would have served to keep the Packers offense on the sidelines. Aaron Rodgers could not have inflicted any damage from that vantage point. No offense, no mater how prolific it may be, is a threat when they are forced to watch football. Therein lies the truth of Smith's statement. Sometimes the best defensive option that a team has is a slow methodical grinding ground game.

If the Dallas Cowboys defense is to have any hope of success, especially early on as they attempt to gel under Rod Marinelli, they will need the offense to help them out. Dallas has the options to quickly strike from anywhere on the playing surface. With a rebuilt line and a Pro Bowl running back they also have the ability to grind it out. Sure, the aerial circus is more exciting to watch, and it has its place in the repertoire, but so does the duller, less glamorous element. To win, it will take a skillful balance of both, and a man calling the plays who knows the specific situation for each option. Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan would do well to remember the thoughts of #22.

"Just because you can throw the ball 45-50 times a game — and the National Football League says we’re a pass-happy league — doesn’t mean that you should."

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