The Dallas Cowboys are rolling!
Over their last three games, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott have led the way pounding the rock and getting big-time gains by averaging 5.4 yards per rush attempt. That’s the 4th-best mark in the NFL.
While loud yelling and angry fist shaking have centered the conversation on the Zeke vs Pollard debate, the Cowboys’ rushing offense has taken off for multiple other reasons. From running a more diverse scheme to ramping up early-down agressiveness,* they’re finding ways to deal some damage.
*Note: The Cowboys went from having the 27th highest early down pass rate to 15th since Dak Prescott’s return.
But one of the biggest reasons why the Cowboys rushing attack has gotten going is the growing use of motion.
Last year, Kellen Moore refused to use motion in run plays. Although it was a tactic consistently employed in the passing game, Dallas was 27th in the NFL in motion rate when running the football (39%) per Sports Info Solutions.
This year, that number has shot all the way up to 51%, which is the 9th highest in the league.
A quick look back to the Cowboys’ 49-29 win over the Bears provides some examples of how simple yet devastating motion can be in the run game.
In the first score of the game, the Cowboys ran a read option concept that had Dalton Schultz pulling from the backside to bluff a block on the pursuing defensive end before leading the way for Dak to walk untouched into the end zone.
But look at CeeDee Lamb’s motion and the effect it has on safety Eddie Jackson (#4). It literally takes the defensive back out of the play even if Prescott hands the ball off to Pollard.
Read Option Dak forever. pic.twitter.com/QyHJl1oaT7— Mauricio Rodríguez (@MauNFL) October 30, 2022
But not every motion has to be fancy eye candy for the offense. Even a simple pre-snap motion from a wide receiver can give any defense a headache.
In Pollard’s touchdown below, Lamb attaches himself to the offensive line and simply adds one more gap for the defense to account for. It doesn’t look like much, but it keeps the defense on its heels to not mess up the run fits.
Moving forward, the Cowboys will likely keep finding ways to implement motion in the run game.
Of course, there are a lot more reasons why they’re being successful on the ground. The team is running a lot of multiple tight end looks, they’re running more RPOs, and are involving Pollard’s explosiveness more often.
Featured image via Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports