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Why Kellen Moore — not Zeke — is the key to the Cowboys’ offensive success

The holdout by Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was one of the stories of the summer. Would he return and play out his contract? Would he spend the rest of his days in Cabo? Would the Cowboys make him the highest-paid running back in football? Option three was ultimately the answer, but while everyone was focussing on what was happening at the running back position, the real story was Kellen Moore taking over as the team’s offensive coordinator. Elliott ran the ball 13 times for just 53 yards against the New York Giants, and the Cowboys still won the game comfortably. The reason for that was because of an excellent game plan by Moore and a phenomenal performance by quarterback Dak Prescott.

Offensive balance

Removing plays nullified by penalty, the Cowboys dropped back to pass on 32 plays and ran the ball on 30. With almost a 50-50 split between runs and passes, many people will call it a balanced offensive game plan, but when you look at when those plays occurred, it presents a different picture. Through the first three quarters of the game, that split was 30 passes and 19 runs. Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter, they dropped back to pass just twice, with eight runs, including two kneel-downs by Prescott. While many people look at that run/pass split for balance, true balance in the NFL is about running the ball when it’s most efficient to do so and using a diverse passing attack to exploit mismatches on the opposing defense.

 

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