Christmas is here and all is not bad for the Dallas Cowboys.
In a season in which this franchise has had to overcome a great deal of adversity, one might not have expected for this to be the year that the Cowboys accomplished something that it hasn’t done since the 2006 season.
Quarterback Tony Romo’s injury status pretty much has the season wrapped up despite the fact that Dallas is in position to steal the NFC East with a victory over the hot Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday night at the stadium formerly known as Cowboys Stadium.
No Romo, no win right?
The combination of Romo’s late heroics against the Redskins in Washington last Sunday and his apparent season-ending injury has buried this encouraging statistic: Running back DeMarco Murray, in only 13 games played thus far, has become the first 1,000-plus yard rusher for the Cowboys in seven seasons.
Julius Jones was the last runner to cross the mark that former greats like Emmitt Smith, Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker used to pass just as certainly as the sun rises each day.
I probably don’t need to overstate the importance of Murray in what looks very well like Dallas’ final football game of the year this weekend.
Murray has also hit a career high in rushing touchdowns with nine. He caught his first career touchdown pass against the Redskins to win the game and he’ll set another career high in games played in a regular season should he suit up, as expected, against Philadelphia.
There’s never been any doubt about Murray’s importance to the Dallas offense.
There has, however, been doubts surrounding his ability to stay healthy, an issue he has yet to completely shake.
Murray enters a contract year after 2013 as his rookie-contract will expire following the 2014 regular season. If Murray stays healthy, owner and general manger Jerry Jones may have an interesting question to ponder regarding his starting running back sooner than later.
Then again, with Dallas’ annual salary cap issues it may not matter at all—watch to see what happens with defensive tackle Jason Hatcher once free agency begins in a matter of weeks.
Head coach Jason Garrett has never put much premium on running the football, preferring instead to successfully maximize his franchise quarterback’s chances of injury and mistakes by having him drop back to pass as many as 50 times in a game.
Whether Garrett’s job is on the line or not, and it sure better be if former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s was last year following all of the injuries he suffered, it’ll be interesting to see how the Cowboys approach yet another “Win-And-You’re-In-The-Playoffs” finale against Philadelphia.
Dallas is exactly 1-1 in this type of contest, against the same team, since 2008, neither having come with Garrett as head coach but both going down with his calling the offense.
Garrett, as a head coach, is 0-2 in regular season finales with the NFC East on the line, both games on the road against the New York Giants and the Redskins in each of the past two seasons.
Garrett has to run the ball this week as opposed to chucking the pigskin around Arlington as many times as possible.
I find this somewhat ironic.
At least Garrett has a 1,000 yard rusher in his back pocket for this all-important contest that will go the distance in determining the fate of not just the Dallas franchise on the field, but also in deciding the future of Garrett on the sidelines—on national television, mind you.
No pressure here, Jason.