Dallas went into the game against the San Diego Chargers after running back Demarco Murray led the Cowboys to victory after running for 175 yards from 26 carries. This week they fell to the Chargers and Murray had only 14 carries for 70 yards.
Many fans have been questioning, why abandon the running game? Those are my thoughts as well. Let’s consider the fact that when Murray gets the ball 18 or more times, the Cowboys are a combined 13-0 since 2011 in games where Murray was active. These stats start back from the St. Louis game in his rookie year. Prior to that, Murray was the third string running back until an injury sidelined Felix Jones and Tashard Choice didn’t produce as the starter. Granted we have to in account the games he missed in 2011 and 2012, which were nine in total. When this running back gets less than 18 carries, the Cowboys are 1-8.
The question is, is do the coaches of the Cowboys realize the commodity they have? Yes, I realize I wrote an article no more than a week ago asking if Murray was a fluke or the real deal. The answer is pretty obvious and it has been for a long time. Murray is the real deal. His drawback has been the injury factor and Murray can take care of that if he would take care of himself a little more differently. I don’t pretend to know his workout regime, but something isn’t working for him if gets injured easily. My experiences from being an athletic trainer, there is something he isn’t doing that if done, it can mean less injury for him and more production on the field.
The last couple of seasons the offensive line has been pretty inconsistent, which any fan knows that can be disaster for an offense period. It affects the passing game because your quarterback doesn’t have adequate time to read the defense. Also, it puts a damper on a running game when the holes they need to run through aren’t there. This year’s version of the offensive line is probably the best of out of the three seasons Murray has been wearing that blue star on his helmet. The run blocking isn’t where it should be but it is improving every week. With the controversial drafting of Travis Frederick and the acquisition of Brian Waters, this line has been pretty solid minus a holding penalty here and there. Let’s face it, there is holding just about every play. It is just a matter of who gets caught the most. In 2012, Doug Free was given that honor as the most penalized offensive lineman in the NFL. So far, Free has been playing up to his potential and striving to stay out of the penalty zone.
I am supposing the other question to pose is, now that Tony Romo is officially apart of the offensive game planning, is Romo not supporting the running game? There have been some rumors around the Cowboy Nation including a story written stating that Romo abandoned the running game as he was calling plays during the Kansas City game. Is Romo trying to be a stat hog? Does he realize that providing a balanced attack, you keep the defense guessing? Does Romo get bored with the balanced attack that he has to change the plays? As a fan, you have to wonder where Romo’s loyalties are when it comes to winning.
Fans such as me now see the record when it comes to giving the ball to Murray and having an undefeated record isn’t something to blow off. I am not saying that every single game that Murray has 18 carries, we are going to win but having that balance in the offense will increase our chances of a victory. Dallas didn’t win every single game Emmitt Smith or Tony Dorsett had their 18-plus carries but they did see the playoffs a lot more than this current version of the blue-starred ‘boys. One other factor to consider is that Dallas relied heavy on the passing game last year when Murray was out with his sprained foot. That mindset from the coaching staff and quarterback has to change. It’s bad enough that the passing game isn’t producing as it should, of course if we could throw the ball further than 5 yards at a time that might work a little better. Last week, there were a couple of times Romo was forcing the ball to tight end Jason Witten and he was double covered. Witten is getting older but he is still a target to reckon with. Dez Bryant is playing solid football at this point of the season. And when the offense is clicking the defense plays better. Especially when the offense has more than 7 plays in a quarter, which happened in the 3rd quarter of this past Sunday’s game.
In the 1990’s, we had Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irving. The “Triplets” led the Cowboys to glory in the form of 3 Super Bowls. Today, we have Romo, Murray, and Bryant. The “Triplets Part Deaux” could be a reality if we could just take a page from that original threesome. Taking a page from history may or may not translate into Super Bowl’s but it gives the Cowboys a more balanced, unpredictable attack that is hard to defense. Having that as a weapon can translate into a consistency that this team has been lacking for many years. It can also translate into the most important thing to all Cowboy fans…wins!