It’s no secret that the Cowboys’ offensive line is one of the best units in football at any position. The strong offensive line, combined with the extremely talented Ezekiel Elliot, would suggest that the Cowboys are going to runt he ball a lot – but the way they are running the ball is something the NFL hasn’t seen in a long time.
The Cowboys have 250 pass attempts through nine games, compared to 278 rush attempts, making them only team in the league with more rushes than passes this year. While other teams like the Bills are running all over the league, only the ‘Boys are doing it in a way that brings us back to the true ground and pound style.
Dallas runs on 50.67 percent of its plays (42 percent of first downs) behind the league’s best offensive line, and is second behind the Bills in big plays via the run. An important note, however, is that the Bills have the Tyrod Taylor option, and while Dak can scramble, the Cowboys do not design many runs for him.
For the Cowboys, the run allows for play action, which can get young Dak into space and allow him to make easier passes far downfield, such as the touchdown against the Packers on Sunday night. They also throw screen passes, using their strong offensive line to their advantage, which shows in plays like the 83-yard Zeke Elliot TD reception, also against the Packers.
Teams like the Giants, who cannot run the ball at all, have a tough time finding a balance on offense, and they struggle to score because of it. But teams like the Cowboys can move the ball on the ground, which opens up not just a conventional passing game, but also screen and play action passes – which allow for an inexperienced QB to lead an offense as efficiently as Prescott is.
In addition, the Cowboys throw to Jason Witten, their second leading receiver in yards and receptions, more than they throw to Dez Bryant (who is third in both numbers). Similar to the ground and pound offense, the heavy usage of tight ends over wide receivers is a harkening back to more traditional football. The style is clearly effective, and it may not be flashy, but the Cowboys’ 8-1 record certainly is.