What else does DeMarco Murray have to do? Seriously? On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys rookie running back rushed for 253 in a 34-7 blowout victory over the St. Louis Rams. Murray broke every single game rushing record ever set by anyone to wear the star…ever. That includes Emmitt and Tony. If that’s not enough to win the starting job for the rest of the season, then you better start sending scouts off-planet to find their players.
I understand the knock some fans and maybe even some of the Dallas’ coaching staff might have about Murray’s accomplishments on Sunday. Yes, the Rams run defense is the worst in the league. Yes, the offensive line and fullback Tony Fiammetta were creating holes big enough for even Troy Hambrick to run through. And yes, Murray’s big 91 yard run in the first quarter padded his stats. And here’s the big one: It was only one game. But do we really believe Felix Jones would have had the same day if he had started? Really?
Let’s look back at the St. Louis Rams previous games to find out how other NFL running backs did against this terrible run defense:
- Week One vs. Philadelphia Eagles: LeSean McCoy – 15 carries for 122 yards, 1td; Mike Vick – 11 carries, 97 yards
- Week Two @ New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw – 15 carries for 59 yards; Brandon Jacobs – 16 carries for 50 yards, 1td
- Week Three vs. Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice – 9 carries for 81 yards; Ricky Williams – 5 carries for 42 yards
- Week Four vs. Washington Redskins: Ryan Torain – 19 carries for 135 yards, 1td
- Week Five: Bye
- Week Six @ Green Bay Packers: James Starks – 13 carries for 49 yards
- Week Seven @ Dallas Cowboys: DeMarco Murray – 25 carries for 253 yards, 1td; Phillip Tanner – 6 carries for 34 yards, 1td.
So from this list, if you think Felix Jones should start over DeMarco Murray, then your essentially saying Jones is better than LeSean McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw and Ray Rice. Murray almost doubled every other running backs total on this list.
Jones, who played behind Marion Barber until this year, has never even gotten close to 253 rushing yards. His best game was in the 2009 NFL playoffs against the Eagles. He rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown in that game. But his totals were also padded by a 73 yard run. Actually, Jones’ second best rushing game was this year against the Redskins with 115 yards on the ground. But Jones also recorded yardage totals of 57, 44, and a 25 in this year’s other games as the starter.
Obviously, Jones’ greatest value is as a receiving threat and as a change of pace back. his downfall is durability. Jones has shown he would not be durable enough to handle the grind a starter would have to endure. We should use his strengths while limiting his carries as a third down back only.
But here’s the greatest fan fear of all: It was only one game. And this is by far the best game Murray has had since high school…and that’s according to him. But do you remember the name Tim Smith? Before Smith played for the Cowboys back in 1990, he was a Superbowl hero. In 1988, the rookie running back from Texas Tech rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the Redskins’ 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Superbowl XXII. Smith had one big game but injuries and drug abuse ended his career just two years later. Smith had one big game and that was it. Is Murray just a flash in the pan too?
Regardless of the answer, Murray has done more than enough to warrant becoming the starter for now. And there should be very little question about it until Murray gives us a reason to pause, even when Jones returns. But next week’s game against the Eagles will go a long way in calming fan fears. If he can do half of what he did against the Rams to Philly, Cowboy Nation should start buying out Murray jerseys immediately. Get yours’ while supplies last!