There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Dallas Cowboys offense this offseason. After the team opted not to renew the contract of former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, there were sure to be revisions from previous iterations of the Dallas offense. Head coach Mike McCarthy assumes play-calling duties for the team, and the offense has added another weapon in Brandin Cooks. The offense won’t have a complete overhaul in 2023 but a bit of a revision from last season.
After departing with Dalton Schultz, who was second on the team in receiving yards, and Ezekiel Elliott, who was also second on the team in rushing last season, a renewed approach is necessary. So far in minicamp and OTA’s, the McCarthy rebranded “Texas Coast” offense is drawing rave reviews from players. The biggest benefactor in this new-look philosophy could be quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott is primed for having a bounce-back season passing after an uneven 2022 campaign. However, the Cowboys must feature Dak Prescott’s legs to remedy a lingering concern that has gone unaddressed for a few seasons.
The Cowboys have a significant role to fill in terms of who takes over as the short-yardage and goal-line runner in the wake of Elliott’s release. Elliott ran for 12 touchdowns last season, primarily from inside the five-yard line. The running backs currently on the roster are Tony Pollard (6’, 209 lbs.), Malik Davis (5’11”, 202 lbs.), Deuce Vaughn (5’6”, 176 lbs.), Rico Dowdle (6’ 215lbs.), and Ronald Jones (5’11”, 208lbs.) Not necessarily the traits of a goal-line runner.
Undrafted free agent Hunter Leupke has the desired size to play the part and has the physicality needed, but he is an undrafted rookie. Leupke is a dynamic prospect because he can run with power, has decent hands catching the football, and be a lead blocker. However, placing that much responsibility on a rookie, let alone an undrafted talent, seems excessive.
One way to supplement an effective running attack in goal-to-go situations is to feature Dak Prescott rushing in the red zone. For a barometer of Prescott’s nonexistent presence in the red area, here’s this tweet from Warren Sharp.
Dallas has run 192 plays in goal-to-go situations the last 3 years with Mike McCarthy as HC...— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) June 19, 2023
and mobile QB Dak Prescott has just 12 rushing attempts
someone deserves jail time
Cowboys preview via @RMSummerlin:https://t.co/qurCxX5eg6
Sharp is right. The Cowboys not utilizing one of their assets that deep in scoring territory is practically inconceivable. For reference sake, over his first three seasons, Prescott had 18 rushing touchdowns. Since then, there have been just eight, with only one rushing score in each of the past two seasons. Overall, the team could stand to feature Prescott’s mobility in the offense to make themselves more potent. It’s reasonable to believe that the decrease in Prescott’s rushing attempts coincides with Prescott’s ankle injury in 2020, yet it would be a welcome component to bring back to their offensive approach.
The Cowboys don’t need to be overly reliant on Prescott running, you don’t want to put him in harm’s way too often. But the Cowboys can use Prescott’s mobility in the red zone to command the attention of the middle of opposing defenses. In that case, the run action will create opportunities for the Cowboys’ formidable group of tight ends in the end zone.
Regarding replacing Elliott’s goal-line contributions, Prescott can be part of the solution. Countless times last season Prescott was able to push the pocket and pick up the needed yardage on short third and fourth downs. Bring back dual-Dak.