INDIANAPOLIS – A year ago, coach Jason Garrett's mantra was that the Dallas Cowboys needed to run the ball more and run it better in 2013 than they did in 2012.
The Cowboys ran it a lot better with DeMarco Murray rushing for more than 1,000 yards and earning a Pro Bowl spot, but they did not run it more.
In 2013, Dallas ran it 336 times for 1,507 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. The season before, they rushed for 1,265 yards on 355 carries with eight touchdowns.
On Thursday Garrett said the Cowboys must run it more in 2014, however, the new playcaller, Scott Linehan, ran the ball even less than the Cowboys when he was the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions.
"Scott's been around teams that have run the ball really well, if you look at his track record back to Minnesota, they were a top five rushing team," Garrett said. "All those years when they had Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, they always ran the ball very, very well. You like to get to a point where you can do that, where you have that kind of balance. You can be really productive in the passing game, but you can control the game by running the football."
As head coach of the St. Louis Rams, Linehan had Steven Jackson rush for 1,528 yards but the team finished ranked 17th in the NFL in rushing. In three years as the Vikings' coordinator he oversaw the NFL's ninth, fourth and second ranked run offenses form 2002-04. In five years with the Lions, Linehan's rush offense's best finish was 17th.
"We're stronger up front than we've been in the last few years, and hopefully we can continue to add to that, control the line of scrimmage more," Garrett said. "The best teams in the league are able to do that, and we're hoping to be able to do that, have the kind of balance we want for our team."