The 2023 NFL season may still be in the early stages, but much has already been made about the Dallas Cowboys struggles in the red zone through the first three weeks. The Cowboys seem to have no problem getting inside the 20-yard line, and surprisingly enough, they lead the league in that category with 15 red zone trips. Where they struggle is finishing, and by finishing, we're talking about scoring touchdowns.
To date, the Dallas Cowboys are currently the 27th ranked team in red zone offense, scoring a touchdown on only 40% of their trips. This is an area everybody would love to see them improve as quickly as possible, but all of the contributing factors that go into becoming more successful in the red zone don't really seem to be a simple tweak here or there. It could be a number of things that need to fall in place.
The first thing that needs to happen is Dallas' offensive line needs to get healthy. Their best starting five has yet to suit up together for a single game this season. Getting them all healthy and on the field at the same time will no doubt improve their odds at converting in the red zone, but even that isn't what some people are saying is there biggest problem. That would be the absence of Dalton Schultz and Ezekiel Elliott.
Both Schultz and Elliott were integral parts to the Dallas Cowboys success in the red zone last season. Schultz was their most targeted player inside the 20 in the passing game and Zeke punched in 14 touchdowns just last year in both regular season and playoffs. As things stand right now, the Cowboys haven't been able to adequately replace either player to improve their chances in the red zone.
The Cowboys look to already have a Dalton Schultz replacement on the roster. Jake Ferguson is a similar skilled player and has a chance of being every bit as productive as Schultz was during his time with the Cowboys. Once the chemistry between him and Dak Prescott improves, so should the production. The same may not be true at running back though.
Replacing Ezekiel Elliott may not be as easy. Dallas doesn't really have a comparable player currently on the roster. Both Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle have been good between the 20s, but it when they get down to the red zone they seem to get a little bogged down. That could be due to their size, running style, or the before mentioned OL lack of availability. So, the Cowboys brass may need to look elsewhere for specific running back help.
As things stand right now they don't really seem to be interested in what's currently available on the open market. Because of that, they could look to players who could be acquired via trade like they did when they added Brandin Cooks, Stephon Gilmore, and Trey Lance already this year. But, where should they look for said player and how much would they be willing to give up in compensation?
The answer to the compensation question is easy. A late-round pick at most for a player is more than likely on an expiring contract this year because of all of the money they'll have to pay out to extend players like Dak Prescott and Micah Parsons. Answering the where question is a little more difficult. However, the Chicago Bears have an interesting candidate who could be exactly what the Cowboys looking for.
D'onta Foreman is a 6'1", 235-ish pound running back could be the thunder to Tony Pollard's and Rico Dowdle's lightning if acquired via trade. He currently looks to be on the outs with the Chicago Bears after being a healthy inactive the last two weeks. If that is indeed the case, the Cowboys would be wise to check on his availability.
Foreman is a former third-round pick (89th overall) by the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL Draft. Untimely injuries plagued him early in his career and prevented him from being as productive as many believed coming out of the University of Texas. But, last year when the opportunity arose he seized it to the tune of 914 rushing yards and five touchdowns with the Carolina Panthers after they traded away Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers.
Now with the Chicago Bears, and apparently not much a part of their plans moving forward this season, he could be more than willing to find a new home where he can get on the field. If the Dallas Cowboys are indeed looking for a short yardage/goal line type of RB, he would probably more than happy to return to his home state to play for America's Team.
All of this is completely hypothetical though. The Dallas Cowboys may or may not be completely happy with the way the roster is currently constructed, whether it's at the running back position or any other. If they are looking to improve in short yardage situations, especially around the goal line, D'onta Foreman seems like a good option. Whether the Cowboys agree or not remains to be seen though.