The last two weeks against the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans wasn’t very kind to the Dallas Cowboys. In back-to-back games, they’ve lost two key starters in cornerback Anthony Brown and right tackle Terence Steele for the rest of the season. The loss of both players is a big blow to the roster, and yet, there might be a way to navigate around these season-ending injuries.
Ideally, the Dallas Cowboys would simply go with the next-man approach without having any kind of downgrade in performance at both positions. With a little bit of luck and good fortune that could indeed be what happens, however, the likelihood of that happening is not very realistic.
Realistically, the Cowboys will very likely see a dip in production at both CB and RT after losing Anthony Brown and Terence Steele for the rest of the year. It’s only natural when a backup has to step in as a starter, and yet, there is potentially a way to lessen the blow these two season-ending injuries could have on the team moving forward.
As luck would have it, the Dallas Cowboys are currently one of the best teams running the ball this season. As things stand right now, they are seventh in the league with a total of 1,878 rushing yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 144.5 yards per game. They are also second in league in rushing touchdowns (21), only behind the Philadelphia Eagles (27).
While it’s true Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and to a lesser extent Dak Prescott, don’t directly help with the loss of Anthony Brown at CB and Terence Steele at RT, that doesn’t mean they can’t help out in an indirect way. In fact, what Zeke and TP can do on the ground with their legs, and Prescott if he’ll scramble more often, could be the answer to Dallas’ current issues.
By leaning a little bit more on the running game the Cowboys can, in an indirect way, help whoever steps in as an injury fill-in at CB and RT. By running the ball more, and hopefully more efficiently, Dallas can control the time of possession, and in so doing, lessen the amount of time the defense is on the field.
For a unit that’s pretty much carried the team most the season, this would be welcomed news to Micah Parsons and Company. This would not only help keep them fresh after a long season of physical play, but also lessen the amount of time teams can target Kelvin Joseph or whoever else may end up starting opposite Trevon Diggs the rest of the year.
On the flip side, Terence Steele’s replacement, whether it ends up being Josh Ball or Jason Peters, doesn’t become a liability in pass protection, or in Tyron Smith’s case, doesn’t become an issue because of his unfamiliarity with the right side and general rustiness. These players, and any other offensive lineman for that matter, would much prefer to be moving forward as a run blocker instead of back in pass protection. Running the ball more would allow them to do just that.
Whether Mike McCarthy and the rest of the Cowboys coaching staff believes the same has yet to be seen, but it is something to keep in mind as we enter the final stages of the regular season before heading into the postseason. All we can do now is sit back and wait to see if more focus placed on the ground game moving forward.