In 2016, Tony Romo injured his back in the third preseason game. His compression fracture kept him out most of the season and ushered in the Dak Prescott era.
With a rookie starting at quarterback, the Cowboys leaned on their offensive line and running game that season. They attempted 483 passes and threw 25 touchdowns and ran 499 times and scored 24 rushing touchdowns.
Romo expects the Cowboys to return to 2016 philosophically and lean on the offensive line and the running game. Dallas lost receivers Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson and Michael Gallup is expected to miss the start of the season while working his way back from a torn ACL.
Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are a strength.
“The Cowboys have been probably the best offense in the division for a while now,” Romo told Maggie Gray and Andrew Perloff on CBS Sports Radio. “And you know that the offensive line since around 2014, ‘14-ish, they started to get really good and so that’s carried on for such a long time, and then you threw in these pieces at wide receiver and all of a sudden this was a dynamic group that could — it was going to be very difficult to stop.
“And you’re seeing just a little bit of change start to happen. So I think you’ll see a shift in philosophy a little bit, the identity might change and get back toward the 2016-ish ‘17, ‘18 season.”
In 18 games last season, the Cowboys had 647 pass attempts and 473 rushing attempts. They led the league in plays and yards.
No matter the Cowboys’ philosophy, Romo expects Prescott to have a great season after he threw for 4,449 yards with 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2021.
“I think he’s shown he’s more than capable of playing great football consistently throughout a year and I just think it’s gonna be a little different,” Romo continued. “You know, because the weapons won’t be quite as dynamic. They’ll still be very good. But I do think that you’ll see teams play them just a little bit different.
“[Prescott’s] going to play good football, and he’s going to give them a chance to win every week he plays.”