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Eatman: Winners Of Weekend Running With Common Theme

Posted Jan 7, 2013

I’m sure some of you stayed away from football this weekend. Makes sense, considering how close the Cowboys were to actually being in the dance, sometimes it’s just easier not to watch it at all.

Others probably watched every play with a SMH mentality and how the Cowboys could’ve, and probably should’ve been participating.

The reality of it all is the Cowboys weren’t good enough to make it there, for whatever the reason. Whether it’s talent, execution, coaching, injuries or a little bit of everything, they just weren’t good enough and haven’t been for three seasons now.

Personally, I probably fell somewhere in between those first two scenarios. I didn’t watch a lot, but kept my eyes on all of the games, following just closely enough to see what’s going on.

And while I can’t admit to watching every play, it still seems pretty easy to see a common theme in the games, and something the Cowboys are lacking.

There are always exceptions, including one in Green Bay, but for the most part, you’ve got to run that football at this time of the season. You don’t have to have Emmitt Smith and a power game that will net 200 yards a night, but you’ve got to have the ability to smash the ball into the end zone, or even in short-yardage situations.

To win in December and January, more often than not, it’s cold, it’s tough to throw, and the intensity is high enough where you just have to play ground-and-pound.

The Seahawks did that Sunday. Marshawn Lynch is every bit the beast they claim him to be. Ray Rice did it for the Ravens. Arion Foster does that for Houston.

Like I said earlier, there are some exceptions. Green Bay and New England, even Denver seem to be more pass-oriented. But they’ve got quarterbacks who are so good at their system that they’re basically calling ball-controlled passes that are nothing more than sweeps and pulls. But even those teams can run when it’s needed.

That’s something the Cowboys just have to get back to. Yes, DeMarco Murray is good enough to be that type of running back. But the running game isn’t there. And that means the interior lineman, the fullback, the design of the running plays and more importantly, the overall commitment to the run.

Now that last part isn’t as much about the actual game as it is the philosophy of running. Because I do think Jason Garrett tried over and over to run the ball early in some games this year, and it caused them to get down to the point where they had no choice but to  pass.

To me, the lack of commitment in the running game stems from the personnel. But I don’t exactly fault the Cowboys’ attempts to improve it. Last year they went out and got bigger up front. They added beef with Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. I call that half-committed. They tried to solve the problem, but hoped for the quick fix.

To me, it’s to the point now where the Cowboys not only need to draft an interior lineman in the first round, but maybe come back in the second or third, to get another, hoping there is a center in the mix, too.

We know the Cowboys haven’t drafted lineman that well, especially in the later rounds. It’s time to get serious about it and make even more of an effort.

Sure, you can pass your way to win a few games, but if you don’t have an elite quarterback, and the Cowboys do not, then you can’t be one-dimensional with a really good quarterback. These teams that are still playing have a running game.

The Cowboys haven’t really had a consistent one in several years. And they haven’t had that lead back since Emmitt Smith.

Not saying Murray can’t develop into that lead-back role, but it’s not going to happen with the line he’s running behind right now.
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