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Grounded: Cowboys Re-discover A Ground Game

A lot has been made this season of the Cowboys lack of ability to run the football. When you consider the backfield it is a puzzling question. Going into the season all we heard was how the “three headed monster” would devour opponents and chew up the yardage behind that big offensive line. Well, that dream never materialized. In fact, the Cowboys running game didn’t even resemble a “three headed monster”. Instead, it looked more like a bad duo singing out of tune on karaoke night at your local pub.

Marion Barber and Felix Jones had a terrible first half of the season. When you look at the Cowboys rushing numbers it is quite opposite to what you thought they would be. In the first 8 games, the Cowboys averaged 74.9 yards per game, good for… 31st in the league. Since Garrett took over the Cowboys have started to climb the mountain. They have pulled their average rushing yards per game up to an even 100 yards, sitting them 24th overall. A huge climb considering it has been four games.

What’s the difference? Well the Cowboys offensive line believes it is because they are practicing in pads on Wednesdays which is helping them establish a physical rhythm throughout the week. The other side of it is the play calling. Since Garrett took over as head coach the Cowboys are running the ball 50 percent of the time. When Phillips was in charge they were only running, just over 35 percent of the time. There are many reasons for the new found commitment to running the ball, not the least is they are not being blown out in ball games allowing them to grind the ball out more.

When the Cowboys lost Marion Barber against the Saints fans were actually a little relieved. Now we get to see Tashard Choice step in. In his first game he became the second back of the season to go over 100 yards, doing so against the Colts. Many people, myself included have been wondering why a weapon of Choice’s caliber has been standing on the sidelines. But it is not just Choice, Jones also pitched in for 83 yards of his own in that game.

When the Cowboys run the ball effectively it opens the rest of the game up for them. Kitna is a much better passer off play-action when teams are respecting the running game. It is a recipe the Cowboys will need to stick to if they want to upset the Eagles on Sunday. With Barber not practicing again today it looks like it will be Choice and Jones in the backfield on Sunday night. Whoever the Cowboys ride, they need to make sure they continue to stick to the ground.

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