It used to be a bit of a thing to talk about the Cowboys record when DeMarco Murray had 20 or more carries. Those were some good times.
At one point in time Dallas boasted a fine amount of wins when they found a way to give Murray the ball that many times. I remember thinking then “well if they’re so good when that happens, why don’t they do it all the time?”.
Football isn’t necessarily that black and white. It’s not as if DeMarco carrying it at least 20 times automatically resulted in whens. It was more about what those carries suggested/implied, that Dallas was dominating and controlling the clock, and they happened to coincidentally have a nice correlation with it.
A similar sort of mark has emerged for Dak Prescott in recent weeks. The Cowboys have seen their quarterback (as well as their entire offense) struggle so far this season, yet they continue to have him throw, throw, throw, and throw some more dating back to last season. They are doing this in spite of a Murray-like trend with Dak.
Yes, feed Zeke...The Cowboys are 10-1 when Dak Prescott has 25 pass attempts or fewer, and 13-11 when he has 26+ attempts.— Careen Falcone (@FalconeC) September 24, 2018
Five of those 10 wins have come since last season began, including Week 2’s victory over the New York Giants. The lone loss should hardly count considering it was the 2016 regular season finale which was a meaningless game in Philadelphia that Dak was pulled from early.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that things don’t typically go too well for the Cowboys when Dak Prescott has to throw a lot. A lot of this is what the game dictates, too. If Dallas falls behind early then they’re put in positions where they have to throw to catch up, but still the point remains that if you know this to be true to whatever degree you’d likely do what you could to avoid this sort of circumstance.
This isn’t the case with the Cowboys. If 26 is the breakpoint for attempts, the Cowboys continue to blow past it. Dak has thrown the ball at least this many times in 14 of the last 19 Cowboys games. They are 5-9 in those games, including this season’s two losses.
The recipe for success for the Cowboys is simple (perhaps why defenses are able to stifle it, but I digress). They have to run the ball a lot with Ezekiel Elliott and not hit that breakpoint with Dak. They are allowing defenses to push them to that point where they don’t have success, a point that’s proven by how they’ve used Zeke less than ever before this season.
You can argue whether or not the Cowboys should have such a definable path to victory, but the point remains that that’s their established identity as of Week 4 of the season... it’s not exactly easy to change what they’ve been doing for some time now. While many Cowboys fans would obviously prefer a level of adaptability to find other paths to success there should at least be commitment to the already-established path. Dallas knows that path can yield success, so the very least they could do is stick to it as opposed to abandoning the only thing that’s really helped them.
25 pass attempts seems to be Dak’s limit, that’s what history tells us. The Cowboys would be wise to use that as a ceiling of sorts, history suggests that if they don’t they’re more likely to lose.