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Emmitt Smith: Dallas Cowboys have lost true identity

Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith sees the same Dallas Cowboys team that we all see.

Three straight 8-8 campaigns punctuate a championship dry spell that stretches back nearly two decades, when Smith helped the 'Boys knock off the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Super Bowl XXX.

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I asked Smith on Thursday over the phone why Dallas can't seem to put it all together.

"I think the Cowboys have somewhat lost their true identity," he said. "I mean, I think the team -- we don't know if we want to be a pass team or a run team."

Smith said the difference between today's Cowboys and the potent Dallas squads of the '70s, '80s and '90s channels back to that lack of a one-two punch, saying those old teams "had tremendous success having a very balanced offensive unit."

Only the Atlanta Falcons ran the ball fewer times than the 'Boys this season. Dallas dialed up just 336 runs, compared to a swath of playoff clubs -- Seattle (336), San Francisco (505) and Philadelphia (500) -- who all finished top five in attempts. Ten of the top 15 rushing squads, in terms of carries, made the postseason in 2013.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last month that the relationship between quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray had grown "frosty" by December. Murray finished the season with the fourth-highest yards per rush (5.2) in the league, but tied for 17th in attempts.

I initially dialed up Smith to chat about a MetLife-sponsored video he shot with a cast of current and former NFL players. Justin Tuck, Nick Mangold, Greg Jennings, Eddie George and Josh Brown recently joined Smith in a singing of the national anthem, MetLife's way of welcoming fans to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Emmitt knows his Cowboys won't be in that game, and he knows why -- and he raises a good point.

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