Reason For The Slump?  Dak As A Runner?

Reason For The Slump? Dak As A Runner?

I get it. It sounds great to say the Cowoys had the No. 1 offense last year. I would like to see where they ranked from about Week 6 on. At the start of the year they looked like one of the best offenses ever – but that didn’t last. Outside of a few monster “gimme” games late in the season – the offense looked pretty mediocre. Thoughts? — EARL DIGGER / PORTSMOUTH, VA

David: Agreed, the unit we saw from Weeks 1-6 went away after the bye week, for a few reasons. Zeke Elliott hurt his knee, the offensive line inexplicably fell apart, Dak didn’t look as comfortable and there were injuries at receiver. Fortunately, I think some of that can be fixed. Hopefully Zeke can stay healthy, and there’s at least reason for optimism that the offensive line can improve from what it was in the second half of last season. The bottom line is that a lot of this is going to fall on Dak, though. I don’t think the front office has done him a ton of favors in terms of maintaining the talent level around him, and it’s going to fall on him to compensate.

Robin: Yeah, it’s fair to say that the final rankings didn’t tell the whole story. The offense had better balance and big-play production before the bye than after the bye, no doubt about it. This certainly isn’t the only reason, but I still think the running game might have been the biggest factor in that drop in overall production. In the first six games, the Cowboys averaged 164.3 rushing yards and 5.1 yards per carry. In 12 games after the bye, including the playoff loss to San Francisco: 100.8 per game and 4.0 per carry. When that part of the offense is clicking, it makes Dak’s job a heck of a lot easier.

Mick had an article about fans wanting Dak to run more. I don’t think that fans want him running 8-10 times a game, but at least two or three critical times. Seems, understandably, he didn’t run at all in several games last year. When the run game isn’t working and defenses start smothering the WR’s, I feel that Dak running can pull some of that coverage off of WR’s and definitely pull a LB off the RB’s. —ROB CAGLEY / SHREVEPORT, LA

David: Yeah, I think we all agree that we don’t want Dak toting the rock like he’s back at Mississippi State. But his athleticism is far too valuable not to take advantage of at least a little bit. We all know he can run the ball, and he’s also very good at extending plays and improvising when things break down. I don’t think he looked as comfortable doing that last year as he has in the past. Getting back to that would go a long way toward boosting his level of play, in my opinion.

Robin: I agree that Dak’s ability to extend plays and gain yards on designed runs, especially inside the red zone, has been a very productive part of this offense since 2016. He did run last year. Can’t say they took that completely out of the playbook. But Mike McCarthy said they intentionally picked their spots because Dak was coming off the 2020 ankle surgery. Given the serious nature of that injury, it made perfect sense to me. Maybe that becomes a slightly larger part of his game this season. He definitely has looked good moving around in these practices.

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