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The Dallas Cowboys offense was the most prolific in the NFL during the 2021 season.
And though the team employs one of the highest-paid running backs in the league in Ezekiel Elliott, its potency was predicated predominantly on its passing attack, headed by Dak Prescott.
Dallas saw not one but three receivers break the 800-yard mark (CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Dalton Schultz) last season, while Prescott himself was seventh overall in passing yards, and fifth in both touchdowns and completions.
The team will have to scrap to replace the production lost from Cooper and Cedrick Wilson (both of whom departed during the offseason), and though Prescott remains confident in his own capabilities, former ‘Boys QB Tony Romo believes the squad might be better off switching to the more run-heavy approach from Prescott’s first few seasons.
“I do think that this will be an interesting year just as far as seeing without Amari Cooper there,” Romo said this week on “Maggie and Perloff.” “That’s the one little issue right there that I feel is going to change things a little bit.
“I think you’ll see a shift in philosophy a little bit. … You know, because the weapons won’t be quite as dynamic.”
The seasons Romo is referring to represent some of the troupe’s best in recent years from a rushing standpoint. Elliott spearheaded a top-two run game in both 2016 and 2017, garnering first-team All-Pro recognition in ’16 for his feats, and even a few MVP nods from voters.
Dallas averaged 149.8 rushing yards as a unit that season and posted 24 TDs on the ground, with 72 runs of 10-plus yards (all three figures were second in the NFL). The rookie Elliott tallied 1,631 rushing yards and 15 TDs.
The next year, Dallas again finished second in rushing YPG (135.6) and TDs (18), while posting the third-best mark in yards per carry (4.52). The team was 23rd in passing yards per game in 2016 (237.4), dropping to 27th the following campaign (207.9). Elliott again led the league in rushing 2018, with 1,434 yards on the ground.
The Cowboys made the postseason twice from 2016-18, winning one of their three playoff matchups. They made just one playoff appearance from 2019-21 amid shifting to a more pass-centered approach.
Romo has made a fortune predicting plays in the broadcast booth during his tenure with CBS. Could his projections for Dallas’ offense be a viable recipe for the team’s winning formula in 2022?
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