If run game is grounded, Cowboys will need Dak's arm

DALLAS - The Cowboys in 2017 are geared up to be a running team, although obviously there are challenges ahead for that identity. Even so, their probably-only-slightly-better offensive line in 2015 was enough to make Darren McFadden the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL, and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t played a meaningful snap of football since then.

With the way the Cowboys are designed, having a good running game is really important, especially with the clock winding down. There’s virtually no way for a run up the middle to stop the clock, and being able to pick up first downs through your running game is one of the most tried and true methods of winning close games.

Also, whenever the Cowboys haven’t had a good running back they have made horrible decisions with play-calling at the end of games – so it protects them from themselves.

With that in mind, despite being built to run and whatever happens with Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott still has to play better. Or really, we could put that a slightly better, kinder way. Dak Prescott has been fine, which is nice since he could have had been suffering a sophomore slump.

And he’s also making throws that count: 11 TDs and two INTs over his last five games. Impressive stuff. So you might say that Dak is “doing what he needs to do,” or “getting the job done,” and that his numbers bespeak his role on the team more than anything else.

Nevertheless, fair or not, there will come a time when, if the Boys want to be a contender, especially with the running game up in the air, Dak is going to have to have a big game. This season he has had big games, in terms of touchdowns, including three TDs in three of the last four games.

But, at the same time, he’s averaging 224 yards per game, and 6.94 yards per pass, both extremely low numbers. He’s going to have to do better, sometime. He's going to have to become responsible for more than just moving the chains on third-and-short.

And I know. People never worry about this stuff when the team is doing well, as the Cowboys seem finally to be. They never quibble with what works, they never worry about whether a guy who’s coming through as much as needed so far, can do it in other, more extreme situations.

But they should. Because, frankly, the goal for the Cowboys is not, and is not going to be any time soon, a playoff berth. Sure, between Troy and Tony, that would have been a worthwhile goal, but they’ve done it often enough recently that it’s just not a big enough deal.

And if you want to win the whole thing, you gotta beat everybody. It’s not like I expect that this year. But some year, the gods of football willing, they’ll at least be contenders. And there will certainly come a day during that run where they’ll need more from their young quarterback . It may be that he’s totally ready to give it, it just hasn’t made sense while the run is working so well.

But with it looking increasingly like Elliott will miss the next six weeks, it might be time for Dak Prescott to show there's more than just good enough.

 

Do you feel like Dak Prescott is ready to shoulder the load for the offense? Share your thoughts with Andy on Twitter @andytobo.

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