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Beating Ravens About More Than Ball Control

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Beating Ravens About More Than Ball Control

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Twenty mediocre carries for Murray won't help the Cowboys any more than 10 mediocre ones.

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The Cowboys need to run the ball more. 

You can't throw a rock these days without hitting someone saying that the team must show a firmer commitment to the ground game than they have shown in the first four weeks of the season. Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News is one of the more recent additions to the bandwagon. 

Gosselin writes that the Cowboys' best chance of beating the Ravens comes from dominating time of possession with a ground game that keeps pounding away from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. He points to the Eagles running the ball 41 times in a win over Baltimore and points to last week's eyebleeding effort by the Chiefs that featured 46 runs in a 9-6 Ravens win that should have been bigger given how awful Kansas City is this season. According to Gosselin, the Cowboys can't abandon the run in the first quarter like they did against the Bears and still win the game because they need to control the ball as much as possible. 

Thing is, they didn't do that in the Bears game. As we pointed out last week, the Cowboys were relatively balanced until the game got away from them in the third quarter and it didn't do much to help them have any success on the ground.  

That's the key point missing from the Cowboys have to run more arguments. They aren't able to consistently move the ball on the ground, something that makes it harder to take the advocates of continually banging their heads against that wall seriously. 

Balance is great for any offense, but the Cowboys don't need to run DeMarco Murray more. They need him to run more productively and then use that to set up the rest of their offensive game. 

It's easy to look back at stats at the end of the game and say that the Cowboys should have run the ball more against Chicago. Once you eliminate the flow of the game and all context, the numbers bear that out. 

That same approach allows you to look at Gosselin's Ravens argument and flip it on its head. The Bengals and Patriots both lost to the Ravens this season while winning the time of possession battle so, naturally, their problem was that they didn't employ enough of a quick strike offense. 

If you watched either of those games, you're likely well aware that such a suggestion makes no practical sense whatsoever. Time of possession had little to do with either outcome, just as the Chiefs' decision to run the ball 46 times was a product of them having zero faith in Matt Cassel as much as anything else. 

Tony Romo isn't Matt Cassel, so the Cowboys don't need to devise offensive plans that eliminate their quarterback from the mix. And their best chance of beating the Ravens is to get great games from all of their key players, not just Murray. 

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