ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 28: Tashard Choice #23 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with teammate Marc Colombo #75 after rushing for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Cowboys Stadium on September 28, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
This is an abundantly obvious sentiment. Of course a team that's leading the league in rushing, averaging about twenty yards more on the ground per game than the New Orleans Saints, who rank second, would want to run the ball. But in this case, what seems obvious, and maybe even assumed, is not, for one reason: Jason Garrett.
Now, I'm not a Garrett-hater, although it seems at times like he overthinks things; but Mr. Garrett has proven in the past to have the ablity to forget about the run completely and with no provocation, and that's why this argument is a little less obvious than it may seem. One could assume that Dallas will pound the ball against Denver; but then, one could also assume that, after around forty minutes of football in which Dallas' rushing attack dominated the line of scrimmage completely, they would trot into the end-zone after a second and goal from the one.
Two straight fades to the back of the end-zone, as we've pointed out on this blog, defied all reason; as did the game between Dallas and Washington in week 4 of last year.
At this point last season, Dallas was averaging a little over 150 yards per game on the ground; not as impressive as 193.7, but impressive none the less. Marion Barber was coming off a game in which he posted 142 yards and a touchdown; Felix Jones added 76 and a touchdown and, all told, Dallas put up 217 ground yards against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau.
All was good in Cowboys-Land when the hated Redskins came to town. With two uber-dynamic running back on the roster (I exclude Tashard Choice because he was discovered later in the year), one would imagine Dallas would at least attempt to establish the run against the Redskins, who housed an impressive secondary and a good, but decidedly less impressive front, on defense.
But, no. Garrett, always keeping Dallasites on their toes, ran the ball 11 times. Three of these went to non-running backs (1 by Romo, 2 by T.O.). At the end of the day, Dallas was beaten 26-24 at home, as they rushed for a mind-boggling 44 yards.
As Dallas heads to Denver to face the Broncos--a strong defense with a hitherto amazing secondary, and a good, but decidedly less impressive front--it's hopeful that Garrett has learned from this ugly example of reckless run-abandonment.