Dallas Cowboys: How Running Backs Can Matter

Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

With all of the talk of the Dallas Cowboys having potentially three 1,000 yard receivers, there is a place in today’s game where having an elite back can matter.

There is a prevalent thought throughout much of modern NFL circles and in studying analytics that the running back position just doesn’t have the same value it once had. Many will tell you “running backs don’t matter.”

What they mean is that running back production is one of the most replaceable on a team. Sure, an argument can be made if you have a generational talent, but in today’s game, the league really allows for more passing than running.

This isn’t to say that a team should just grab any old running back and expect the same numbers as say Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley, but that with a group of running backs they can get close enough in production that it is not as noticeable of a decrease. However, running backs can matter if used correctly and within the framework of today’s game.

The first thing Zeke can do better than just about every running back in the league is block in pass protection. A lot of times, Zeke picks up the blitz and stands up a rushing lineman or linebacker. He has also shown a great ability to chip block and run a route into the flat or over the middle. The blocking is important but the ability to still get out into a route adds value. Zeke, when in game shape, has shown the ability to break a play wide open.

So in a passing game of the NFL a player like Zeke can make a huge impact if used correctly. Zeke has shown the ability as well to split out wide and create mismatches in the receiving game. Most linebackers do not have the speed or agility to keep up with Zeke in routes. Zeke’s ability in the open field and power in the passing game would be a huge boon to the Cowboys offense moving forward.

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However, we can not forget that Zeke is not alone in the backfield as Tony Pollard is not only a good change of pace back, but has also shown the ability to get extra yards and has good ability in the open field himself. Using a formation with both in the game and then splitting both out wide, could in theory, create huge problems for defenses.

None of this is to say that both won’t or shouldn’t get carries. Quite the opposite, actually. Getting both touches in the running game out of similar lineups they use both in the passing game will confuse defenses and allow for both to be more efficient in the running game. The one constant when looking at analytics is efficiency.

Running backs can matter if used properly. With Mike McCarthy studying the game for a year can only help increase efficiency and allow for the running backs to matter in ways that can display their talents, and create mismatches for the defense. So while we are all talking about the receivers and how many yards they can get.

Related Story. McCarthy has had a Zeke-caliber RB once before.... light

dark. Next. Dallas Cowboys: The Curious Case of Bradlee Anae

Do not forget about the running backs, who may not have the same carry workloads as prior, but will be every bit as valuable.

  • Published on 08/11/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 08/11/2020 at 07:11 AM