When the Cowboys have the leading rusher, they make the Playoffs…
This trend isn’t random. This makes plenty of sense given how the Cowboys have previously attacked their offensive game plan. Jason Garrett loves his smash mouth football knowing how it has treated his team the last 5 years.
The Cowboys have had a Top 10 rushing offense each of the last 5 years. Since 2014, they’ve placed: 2nd, 9th, 2nd, 2nd, and 10th. The success on the ground has helped them advance to playoffs 3 of the last 5 seasons. Here’s the issue, the Cowboys had the NFL leading rusher in all those seasons.
The assumption is the Cowboys offensive line and dominant running game would be good enough to win the games. 2015 is the obvious exception as atrocious quarterback play held the team back quite significantly. That said, I think it’s more than just a random occurrence that the Cowboys need a league leading rusher in order to make the playoffs.
In fact, I think it’s ridiculous to think that the Cowboys need the league leading rusher in order to get to the playoffs. In a league driven by passing, the Cowboys need for the bell cow running back is a bit old. Zeke is not an average bell cow back, but he does what most bell cow backs have traditionally done. Run the ball a lot.
Will this trend carry over to this season?: Maybe
It’s hard to predict what the Cowboys will be like next season considering the some of the defenses they will face next season were particularly good against the run. Some examples are: New Orleans, Washington, New England, Minnesota, Chicago, and Buffalo. These teams have solid defensive lines and almost all of them will get home-field advantage when they play the Cowboys.
The biggest variable in this trend will be Kellen Moore. Jason Garrett’s approach to the game as well as Moore’s football acumen should result in a lot of running. What will change from this year is the presentation of it all. The hope is Kellen Moore will incorporate different pre-snap motions and different personnel groups that help increase the effectiveness of the rushing offense.
Also having Dak run the ball more might help Zeke make the most of his touches but that’s just me saying things. If the Cowboys can make the playoffs without having to run Zeke a freakish amount, you know who you have to thank.