Running Game Still a Concern

Through the first three games of the year, there is one area the Dallas Cowboys have suffered tremendously- the running game. Today, we grade the Cowboys on their first three games and look ahead towards the rest of the season.

RUSH OFFENSE: F -- The Cowboys running game is so bad that normally run-oriented Bill Parcells now prefers to throw the ball. He did it in New England with Drew Bledsoe, now he's doing in Dallas with Vinny Testaverde. The Cowboys are 28th in the league on the ground and leading rusher Eddie George looks way past his prime with a 2.9 yards per carry average. Losing rookie Julius Jones to injury hurt, but he should provide some much needed help later in the year once healthy.

PASS OFFENSE: B -- Yes, Vinny Testaverde can still throw it. Through three games, he had more attempts than any quarterback in the NFL and was fourth in the NFC in total yards. The key to pass offense however is a stellar receiver corps of Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, Antonio Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. It's also important that the offensive line has kept Testaverde well-protected.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The numbers really don't tell the whole story here. The Cowboys are 21st in the league against the run. But save for the season-opening loss to the Vikings they have been pretty solid against the run, keeping Cleveland running back William Green and Redskins runner Clinton Portis pretty much in check. The tests however, will only get tougher with Tiki Barber, Duce Staley and Ahman Green coming up in successive weeks.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- This is and will remain a liability of the Cowboys because of the their inexperience in the secondary. Teams have been targeting their young cornerbacks for big plays all season. That will only increase with rookie second-round pick Jacques Reeves in the starting lineup for the injured Pete Hunter. The Cowboys have been a better pass rushing team with eight sacks in the first three games. Defensive end Greg Ellis and safety Tony Dixon lead the way with three each.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Punter Matt McBriar has been unspectacular, ranking last in the NFC with a 37.9 yards per kick average. Kicker Billy Cundiff has scored only 13 points in the first three games and the return game has been mediocre at best. The Cowboys however, have been solid in kick coverage.

COACHING: C -- Bill Parcells made mistakes in the offseason by not signing a veteran cornerback. It was a problem in the first three games and will be all season. He also made a bad decision with the defensive scheme in the blowout loss the Vikings in the season opening. All that being said, Parcells will win a few games with his coaching -- as evidenced by his schooling of Redskins coach Joe Gibbs in the 21-18 victory on Monday night before the bye.

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