Dallas Cowboys offense achieved run-pass balance but struggled elsewhere

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys adopted a new identity after they lost Dak Prescott in Week One. After years of being a pass-happy downfield attack, they were forced to flip the script completely and go run-heavy.

The formula largely paid off. Sans Dak, they were able to stay afloat being run-happy, and handed the team back to Dak with a 4-2 record and on track for a playoff seed. While most of the credit goes to the defense, the offensive philosophy showed merit.

Dak wasn’t the only thing missing from the top-ranked offense from a season before. The Cowboys purged their receiver room and suffered significant turnover on their offensive line. Even with Dak under center all season, a more balanced attack was expected in 2022.

The Dallas Cowboys reaffirmed their commitment to balance and resisted the urge to be one dimensional.

The Dallas Cowboys passed less with Cooper Rush – partially out of necessity. Rush is severely limited as a passer. The more you ask him to do, the more you set him up to fail. Less was more and that became the offensive philosophy.

But Dak Prescott previously led the highest ranked offense in the NFL. He’s a franchise passer and has repeatedly been in the top-5 in WAR (wins above replacement). Holding back the passing game would require willpower and fortitude. Any offensive coordinator worth his salt would be tempted to lean on his best offensive player and Cowboys Nation wasn’t completely convinced Kellen Moore had it in him to do it.

Low and behold, he did.

Don’t get me wrong, the Dallas Cowboys OC struggled mightily in his play-calling. It wasn’t Kellen Moore’s finest hour and the struggles of the offensive line only exaggerated that suspect play selection.  We’ll save the nuts and bolts of the play-calling for later in the week, but for now, we just want to shine light on the balance.

As you can see in the chart above, the Cowboys ran 30 rushing plays and 31 passing plays. Their running plays were successful 47 percent of the time and their passing plays were good on 61 percent of the time. While Dak Prescott started the day shaky, he finished the day with an aDOT of 10.8 and a CPOE of 10 (both far ahead of what Cooper Rush was averaging).

It’s the kind of balance rarely seen in today’s NFL.

More was expected from this team against the worst defense in the NFL. The game was a win, but it was disappointing all the same. The offensive line was sloppy and inconsistent. They missed blocks in the running game as well as in the passing game. But as the game wore on, they improved, and thanks to some big plays from their defense, the Dallas Cowboys were able to get on track in Dak’s first game back.

Must Read. Are the Cowboys better on scripted plays or adaptive plays?. light

If you like balance then you have to be pleased with the outcome on Sunday. While other things could have gone better, the Cowboys employed an abnormally even balance between the run and pass. Will it continue?