No DeMarco Murray This Sunday Could Put Tony Romo In MVP Talk


The broken finger suffered by running back DeMarco Murray this past Sunday night could be a tough blow to the Dallas Cowboys’ chances of winning the NFC East, assuming he can’t play this Sunday. The loss of Murray, at first glance, could be devastating. He has rushed for 1,606 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and has 9 touchdowns. Along with those stats he has amassed 392 yards on 53 catches as well. Murray has been a workhorse for the 10-4 NFC East leaders.

Anyway you slice it, it’s better to have that kind of production in your lineup. Yet, there’s still some opportunity to find a silver lining in any situation.

This last weekend quarterback Tony Romo was insanely good. He completed 22 of his 31 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. And to the dismay of his detractors, there were no interceptions thrown by Romo.

Romo took advantage of the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles had no one capable of slowing down wide receiver Dez Bryant, the recipient of all three touchdown passes. He took advantage early and often, and even completed touchdown passes that were almost identical on go routes against Philly corner Bradley Fletcher.

Those facts make the prospect of losing Murray slightly less daunting. Romo finally was trusted to exploit a mismatch all day. And he and the big receiver delivered big time.

“The biggest problem Romo faces for MVP, as I see it, is competition from within: Murray.” – Peter King

This Sunday Dallas has another team who does not have a defender capable of going toe to toe with Dez. The Indianapolis Colts give up 240 yards through the air per game, putting them in the bottom half of pass defenders in the NFL.  If the offensive line can provide Romo enough time to work, he will be able to have a similar performance and accomplish two things in he process.

First, by allowing Bryant to expose defenders, this will cement the fact that Dallas has to pay Dez, and pay him quick. He is going to cost a lot of money, but Sunday night proved he is worth it (that’s not even taking his touchdown grabs that finished a big comeback against the Giants earlier this year).

Secondly, it will put Romo into the the discussion of MVP. I know in a league with quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, it’s almost blasphemous to mention any other names as worthy, but let’s be real. When Romo was out for the game against the Arizona Cardinals, DeMarco Murray managed only 79 yards rushing and never reached the end zone. Dallas lost and looked like a shell of the team they have been all year.

Now fast forward to this coming Sunday. If Romo is able to put forth another great game and lead the Boys to a winning record in December, that would be a much greater showing than when the team was without the gun slinger. By proving the team can survive without Murray, unlike their struggles without Romo, he can eliminate what Peter King calls his biggest problem in the MVP talk. That problem is the fact that there is another serious contender for MVP in the same locker room.

"“I truly appreciate how Romo has improved as a player and particularly as a player in the big moment. The MVP discussion is particularly difficult when you get to teams that have multiple candidates and or multiple great players. The biggest problem Romo faces, as I see it, is competition from within: Murray. When a running back is on course for nearly 2,000 yards and the biggest difference in the improvement of a team is the presence of a good all-around back, that takes away from the case of a quarterback who is playing extremely well. ” – Peter King MMQB"

For as much credit (and it is deserved) as Murray has gotten for a terrific year, I don’t think people realize how much Tony has helped in this area. Against the Cards, there were nine guys in the box to stop Murray for most the game. This was only possible because Arizona didn’t have to worry about Romo. Teams are forced to respect both the pass and run and when Romo was out, so was the threat of any pass.

Obviously there will be a downgrade if Joseph Randle takes the running back role for a hurt Murray. But as long as he can have a good enough game to make people respect the run (and I believe he will), then Tony Romo will show the league why he truly deserves to be mentioned amongst the best in the league.