The Cowboys need to run the ball better. That much is obvious.
They set the team record for fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season with 1,265. The previous worst in a 16-game season was the 1,409 rushing yards the 1989 team had.
"Whenever you are near the bottom of the league in rushing the football, you want to improve that area," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "It starts with the offensive line. We believe strongly that other people contribute to running the football. Certainly, the tight ends, the fullbacks and the runners themselves. So we have to get better running the football. It starts up front. So we will try to create competition there to try to make our team better."
The Cowboys' running backs also have to do better. For DeMarco Murray, that means staying healthy.
Murray has 1,560 career yards, but he has missed nine games with injuries in his two seasons. He was out for six games with a foot injury in 2012 when he rushed for 663 yards.
"He makes a big impact on our football team and the last couple of years at different times he’s been out of the lineup," Garrett said. "And I think our team was hurt by that. We have to make sure he’s doing everything he can in the off-season to prepare himself, evaluate what he’s doing. He’s a very hard worker and very committed to getting himself right. We have to keep looking at what he’s doing. In general, if you look at his injuries, the injuries he’s had are not ones you can prevent. It’s really the nature of football. So as best we can, we’re going to get him in the kind of shape that will allow him to play 16 games, and we’re going to rely on him. He’s a darn good football player. He takes some pressure off everyone on our offense and throughout our team when he’s going good. We have to make sure we can get him in that frame of mind and that physical state for the whole season."
The Cowboys need a No. 2 running back behind Murray. Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar were the No. 3 running backs in 2012. Felix Jones, the No. 2, is an unrestricted free agent and not expected to return. In his five seasons since the Cowboys made him a first-round pick, Jones rushed for 2,728 yards and scored 15 total touchdowns.
-- Charean Williams