There is an NFL acronym that is being thrown around when talking about the Dallas Cowboys this season: RBBC. It stands, of course, for running back by committee, and refers to the expectation that the carries are going to be much more evenly distributed than they were in 2014, when the the Cowboys rode the career season of DeMarco Murray into the playoffs.
The primary workload is expected to be shared by Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden, with Lance Dunbar used as a change of pace back. When he is in, he is often used as a receiver than a runner and in those cases is not always part of the protection scheme for Romo. It puts the team in situations similar to when they go empty backfield and rely on the offensive line and Romo's instincts to avoid a blitz if it does come.
That will leave the job of protecting Tony Romo from the blitz mainly to Randle and McFadden. Therein lies a bit of a rub. Murray was valued for his ability to pick up a linebacker or defensive back coming after the quarterback. Questions about Randle's ability to do that are worrisome.
With that in mind, it was interesting to see this in Bryan Broaddus' "Twelve Thoughts" column at the mothership, covering the final practice of the year that was open to the media, held Monday night at AT&T Stadium.
4) In blitz period - Darren McFadden took more of the snaps than Joseph Randle. Getting the feeling that there is becoming a comfort factor there.
Does that show us how the Cowboys will be deploying the backs this year? Projecting that out, it would put Randle on the field for most first and second downs, when the run has to be defended. For passing downs when the blitz could come, McFadden may be the man trusted to keep Romo upright. McFadden would still get some plays where the team is running, but he will see most of his work on third downs or second and long. This plays to the strongest part of each of their games.
Because of the injuries to the offensive line during the first three preseason games, there is limited data to evaluate how any of the backs will perform when they have good blocking ahead of them. But the flashes we saw, with Randle making some nice runs in the second game and McFadden posting a nice 9.3 yards per carry in the third, do give some hope that the line will indeed lead the way to rushing success. Down and distance may well be the primary consideration for who is on the field at the RB position.
It is a bit of a thin reed to try and project the approach that Dallas will take to the offense, but it does fit the scant evidence as well as what has been seen of how Randle and McFadden handle their duties. And it makes some sense. If you are going to try and cross up the defense with a draw play in a passing situation, McFadden has the explosiveness to give it a chance of succeeding. Meanwhile, Randle did show a bit of that "dirty yard" ability that the team has to have at times.
Dallas is going to be watching the cuts throughout the league and there may still be another running back signed. But the team has shown every sign that it wants the current lineup to work. This may be the way that they are going to try to do this.