After two weeks of football that actually counts, the Cowboys have rediscovered the fact that they can't run the football. The reasons are probably more numerous than any of us realize, but facts are facts.
Even with a healthy DeMarco Murray, the starting ball-carrier in the Dallas offense, the Cowboys simply can't get much push from the offensive line—this was expected by many when Dallas didn't do as much as it could have to improve the personnel on its line during the offseason.
Dunbar saw very little action a season ago and followed up that rookie season with a strong preseason in Oxnard, Calif.
Arguably his biggest highlight came in the third contest against the Cardinals in Arizona. After taking a short pass from quarterback Tony Romo near midfield, the quick and shifty tailback split multiple defenders before breaking into the open field and scampering 47 yards to reach the Cardinals' 5-yard line.
As Dunbar was tripped up and falling to the ground near the sideline, he simply lost control of the ball and clearly fumbled, killing what was otherwise a huge play.
Dunbar would suffer an ankle sprain during that game in Phoenix, ending his preseason. He returned to action last weekend for a Week 2 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.
It wasn't until the third quarter that Dunbar got his first touch at Arrowhead. That carry out of the backfield resulted in a 12-yard burst up the middle of a Chiefs defense that Murray had been unable to penetrate all afternoon.
Dunbar's second touch was a short reception up the middle which would have been good for another first down, but Dunbar committed Dallas' first turnover of the game. He fumbled the ball for the second time in his last three touches dating back to that preseason game against the Cardinals.
If we analyze Dunbar's total numbers from preseason and the Kansas City game, there seem to be some things to consider moving forward.
How many touches should Lance Dunbar receive against St. Louis this weekend?
In this particular sample of four games, three of which mean little given the competition he was facing, Dunbar has nine carries for 57 yards—an average of 6.3 yards per carry. If you take a way the single carry for two yards against Oakland, Dunbar averages 6.9 yards per carry.
During the same stretch, Dunbar has seven receptions for 87 yards, although that total is spiked given that 47-yard catch-and-run-and-fumble at University of Phoenix Stadium. 12.4 yards per catch isn't too bad.
The point here is this: Dunbar needs touches and the Cowboys really can't afford to excessively punish him due to a couple of fumbles, one of which was a fluke since Dunbar dropped the rock all by himself.
Just because a kid falls off his bike when learning to ride it doesn't mean that you pack it away for a week or two until it's time to try again.
If we learned one thing from the Cowboys of the early 1990s, it's that speed kills. This is always going to be a fact.
The Dallas offensive line is in a stage of development that doesn't allow much running between the guards and tackles.
As Cowboys management stands by the idea that multiple-tight-end sets are going to launch the running game, it's probably a good idea to get Dunbar more carries right away. He's the only Cowboys runner that has the speed to get outside and this is a benefit that really fits a dire need.
Yes, head coach Jason Garrett is right when he preaches not turning the ball over—even if his words are pretty worthless when considering that he favors an offensive philosophy that actually maximizes the likelihood of turnovers.
Despite his two recent fumbles, Dunbar has to be used more often.
This certainly includes more receptions in space because big plays are the name of the NFL game and he's one of just two running backs on the roster now that have shown the ability to hit home runs from anywhere on the field.