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Mike McCarthy may want to get back to “establishing being able to run the football”

The debate about establishing the run in the modern NFL is always fun.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

There was no Dallas Cowboys practice on Monday as the team has already been hard at work out in Oxnard for about a week now. We are actually just over a week away from the team beginning preseason play which is exciting.

It is still far too early to draw any legitimate conclusions from what we have seen out in practice in terms of plans, schemes, or anything otherwise. Seeing the team doing anything resembling football has brought with it plenty of excitement that will rise in the weeks to come.

Keeping all of this context an interesting report surfaced on Monday. On the latest episode of You Pod to Win the Game Yahoo’s Charles Robinson discussed a phone call that he had with someone within the Cowboys. Robinson noted that the person he spoke to noted that an “underplayed storyline” for the Cowboys right now is how much Mike McCarthy wants to get back to establishing being able to run the football.

“One thing that I think is interesting, though. And this is from a follow-up phone call. Had a chance to talk to somebody in the organization after I got out of there and I called, I finally was able to connect with somebody. He told me that an underplayed storyline for the Cowboys is how much Mike McCarthy spent this offseason talking with people inside the organization, particularly from the offensive standpoint. About how much he really wants to get back to establishing being able to run the football for the Dallas Cowboys.”

“He really, really, from talking to this individual they were like, ‘Look, if Dak is throwing the ball 50 times a game we fail what Mike wanted to do.’ From talking to Mike he’s like ‘This is absolutely going to be a team that at the very least if we are not run dominant,’ he was like ‘We are going to be very balanced. Mike wants a very balanced team. But we are running the football a lot. And we do want not just Ezekiel Elliott but Tony Pollard, we want these guys worked into this and it is really important to Mike that we establish that.’”

“And, you know he just said... this was interesting because this guy was like, ‘You know you hear all this stuff about, you know, Dak’s going to light it up and how great the wide receivers are and all this stuff,’ and he’s like, ‘There’s no doubt that’s a strength. But Mike does not want us to be this team where Dak’s gotta throw the ball a ton because it means that we didn’t get better defensively. And it means that the offensive line’s not as healthy as we think it is.’”

“And they clearly really like how the offensive line’s coming along. So that was definitely something that, once I got a chance to get away from the team and make that call and connect, it’ll be really interesting just to sort of see how the Kellen Moore-ization of this offense evens out a little more and maybe Dak’s not throwing it.”

“I don’t think they want him to be a 40-time a game passer. I think they would like him to be in the low 30s would probably be where they would like to see him. And then you know another 30 offensive plays, 32, 35 offensive plays be running plays. I don’t see this high-flying Dak putting up 6,000 yards in a 17-game season kind of situation.”

People are likely going to read this quote and jump to the conclusion that Mike McCarthy believes in “establishing the run” in the way that older football minds would believe so. It seems though that McCarthy’s point is simply that the Cowboys cannot be relying on a formula where Dak Prescott is throwing the ball at a ridiculous rate as this would imply that things have gone rather poorly on defense like they did when the quarterback was healthy last year.

The perfect combination of run and pass is of course one that sees the Cowboys put up a huge lead that they ice by running late in the game. They have talented running backs on their team that we all believe in that should totally be utilized throughout any given game. Ezekiel Elliott looks like he is in prime shape this season and Tony Pollard has quite the ability to make people miss. Consider that Pollard ranked fifth among running backs who played at least 20% of snaps last year in yards after contact per attempt (3.59... Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry were first and second, respectively) according to PFF.