Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs with the ball against New Orleans Saints cornerback Elbert Mack (44) at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarco Murray: Is he Really the Answer?

Historically, the Cowboys have had some great running backs including: Calvin Hill, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, and Emmitt Smith. Emmitt Smith was our last star running back. Ever since his departure in 2003, the Cowboys have struggled to find a consistent running game. Troy Hambrick, Julius Jones, Marion Barber, and Felix Jones were sought to be the successor to Emmitt. Unfortunately, all of them faltered into obscurity.

If we examine the Post-Emmitt era, the running backs that succeeded him followed a trend. Let’s start off with Troy Hambrick. During the end of Emmit’s career, Hambrick was his backup. Hambrick in a backup role looked promising and was poised to be our future starter. In 2003, he inherited the starting running back position. Unfortunately, he did not live up to expectations and was quickly replaced by rookie, Julius Jones. The same fate would follow Jones, who initially looked promising, but was also ineffective and eventually replaced by his backup, Marion Barber. Barber was an exciting and powerful running back, but would also disappoint after a couple of seasons. He would be replaced by another promising backup, Felix Jones. If you haven’t caught on by now, Felix would also be unsuccessful and was replaced by his backup, DeMarco Murray. It has been over a year since Murray had taken over the starting role and going into his third season, Murray has the position locked down. Many believe that Murray will provide Dallas with a viable running attack. However, is it too early to assume such a thing? We said the same thing about Troy Hambrick, Julius Jones, Marion Barber, and Felix Jones as well. What makes us so sure that Murray will fare any differently?

So far, Murray has followed this trend in being an exciting backup behind Felix. While Murray hasn’t shown many signs of faltering, it is still very possible this early in his career. We’ve seen this cycle many times before, so perhaps we should ready for it to happen again. Let’s look at this logically and breakdown why this trend happen.

In a backup role, our running backs look promising.  But when they become a starter, why have their production declined? Running back is a unique position where you can be one dimensional in terms of play style. Look at LeGarrette Blount as an example. He is the most pure power back in the league. He would be a perfectly viable option as a starter, even though he doesn’t have the speed that other running backs possess. On the other hand, Reggie Bush is the opposite of Blount; he has a ton of speed but not much strength or power in his play style. Both of these running backs can be effective starters despite having a one dimensional play style. A lot of our backups were one dimensional and were good at a certain role. Maybe they simply didn’t have the talent to be a good starter. As a starter, teams will pay more attention to them and game plan against them. This makes it a lot harder for them to succeed. As a backup, there isn’t as much attention on them and they can thrive. Now let’s look at Murray. Does he have the talent to become an adequate starter?

Murray’s biggest drawback is his injury problem. Injuries have hampered Murray for most of his young career; he has missed a number of games in his first two seasons. As a draft prospect, health was a major issue with Murray in college. It does not help that Murray runs very aggressively, and looks to punish defenders. With a running style like his, it is almost guaranteed that Murray will miss some games every season.

When examining Murray’s running style, nothing sticks out to me. He’s had some games where he was very productive, but when I watch careful nothing sticks out. Murray is an aggressive runner, but I don’t expect him to break tackles consistently. He’s quick and has the speed to take it to the house, but there are faster backs. He’s great at catching, but that can only take you so far. Murray is a jack of all trade, but a master of none.

The biggest question is whether he has the talent to succeed. He has a lot of tools, but are these tools good enough? Will he fall into obscurity like his predecessors? Can he overcome those injury problems? There are a lot of quirks to Murray, and it is far too early to deem him a great running back. Right now we can only speculate. While it doesn’t hurt to be optimistic, we should be cautious. Only time knows what’s in store for Murray’s career.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray Felix Jones Julius Jones Marion Barber Runningback Troy Hambrick

  • rick mage

    Who are these idiots who write this blogs?? “I don’t expect him to break tackles consistently”?? Seriously? Well, it’s kind of hard to break tackles when you have half of the defensive line on you, because Dallas’s line can’t block worth a flip! However, Murray can break most one on one tackles. Murray DOES have all the tools, unlike what Kerrie would like everyone to believe. And name me one running back who would do that much better behind last year’s team. His only issue is being injury prone….which is a very big issue (& Dallas may have to dump him if this continues), but still….He’s a beast when not injured…

  • Juanito Juanito

    none rb is a star with a bad offensive line, look how great look the sixt round selection of the redskins, morris look great with a correct offensive line, question is, adrian petterson could succed with the cowboys offensive line ?

  • zim

    Don’t know how anybody can judge what kind of back he is up to this point. He’s been injured as much or more than he’s been healthy. And even when healthy he’s had his moments but surely hasn’t been dominant. a handfull of 100 plus, yard games does not make him the answer. Lets see what happens this year. If he gets hurt again its time to cut him from the herd. If he explodes then we can start talking about if he’s good or not. As of now he’s average at best and injury prone.

  • billy

    ill tell you what stands out to me about murray. when hes running he looks and runs like erick dickerson. now im not saying hes as good as dickerson but he has a running style like dickerson ok? i remember reading an article about emmett or dorsett or maybe both, anyway the writer pointed out that he thought the main reason for his durability was that he ran with a low profile and turned away from direct hits to his head. i guess murray needs to learn when to hit the dirt and live to run again