Cowboys: Does 1000 Rushing Yards by Murray Guarantee Success?

The NFL and its players are obsessed with numbers.  Receivers want 100 receptions and 1000 yards.  Dez Bryant wants to be the first receiver in league history to end the season with 2000 yards and 20 touchdowns.  Running backs have their eyes on Emmitt Smith’s career rushing yards record, while attempting to gain 100 rushing yards per game and 1000 per season.  DeMarco Murray also spoke of ending the season with 2000 rushing yards.

I remember when victory seemed guaranteed whenever Tony Dorsett or Emmitt Smith had 100 rushing yards in a game.  The Cowboys have a win/loss record of 39 — 4 when Dorsett gained 100 yards. The Cowboys were 57 — 19 when Smith accomplished the feat. Currently, the Cowboys are 4 — 0 when DeMarco Murray has 100 rushing yards.  I wondered if having a running back obtain 1000 yards coincided with success or is the whole thing overrated.

Reviewing the rushing statistics of the last five Super Bowl champions revealed some interesting things.  Yes, five years is a small sampling of the data, but it pains me to acknowledge that the New York Giants have won two Super Bowls in a six year time period.

Team

Rushing Rank

Rushing Yards Per Game

Leading Rusher(s)

2012 Baltimore Ravens

11

118.8

Ray Rice
2011 New York Giants

32

89.2

Ahmad Bradshaw
Brandon Jacobs
2010 Green Bay Packers

24

100.4

Brandon Jackson
2009 New Orleans Saints

6

131.6

Pierre Thomas
Mike Bell
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers

23

105.6

Willie Parker
Mewelde Moore

Jul 21, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) carries the ball at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Only the New Orleans Saints had a rushing attack ranked in the league’s top ten.  The Baltimore Ravens barely missed the top ten and the New York Giants rushing attack was ranked dead last when they won the Super Bowl.  The Giants were the only team that failed to average 100 rushing yards per game.  With four of the teams averaging more than 100 yards per game, that should be a goal for our Cowboys this season.

Next, I peered into the statistics of the running back(s) on these five Super Bowl teams.  Two players are listed for a team when both backs contributed significantly to the teams rushing totals.

Player’s Name

Rushing Rank

Total Yards

Average Yards Per Carry

Ray Rice

11

1143

4.4

Ahmad Bradshaw
Brandon Jacobs

27
37

659
571

3.9
3.8

Brandon Jackson

33

703

3.7

Pierre Thomas
Mike Bell

24
32

793
654

5.4
3.8

Willie Parker
Mewelde Moore

26
34

791
588

3.8
4.2

Ray Rice was the only running back to end the regular season with more than 1000 rushing yards.  Rice gained the 11th most rushing yards last season.  None of the running backs on this list led the league in rushing or even finished in the top ten.  Most of them averaged less than four yards per carry.

It’s not impossible for the winner of the league’s rushing title to be on a Super Bowl winning team.  Emmitt Smith in 1995 and Denver Broncos’ Terrell Davis in 1998 managed to combine the two.  Unfortunately, that has been the exception rather than the norm.  That’s my message to DeMarco Murray and Cowboy Nation — perhaps 1000 yards for a running back is overrated.

Recent Super Bowl winning teams have proven an effective and efficient running game is more of a necessity than a 1000 yard running back.  If the Cowboys bring home the Lombardi Trophy, would it matter if Murray and fifth round draft choice Joseph Randle combined for 1600 yards and averaged 4 yards per carry?

Topics: Dallas Cowboys

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  • james

    Here something to look E Smith catches and rec yards was higher in 94 95 season. That Murray the ball and air on the ground

  • texasaaa

    It’s going to be hard to make a thousand if you can only play 6 games a year b

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