Is Joseph Randle The Future Of The Dallas Cowboys Running Game?


Last year, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray set a single-season franchise record with 1,845 yards on the ground. In the offseason, Murray signed a giant contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving a rather dramatic gap in the Cowboys offensive plan for 2015.

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Currently, there are four Cowboys running backs on the roster. They acquired Darren McFadden and Ryan Williams recently, and they still retain Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar, who were on the depth chart behind Murray last year.

Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson is interested in leaving his current team, and he has even expressed interest in playing for the Cowboys. To call him disgruntled is probably an understatement.

On Wednesday, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told Sports Illustrated this about Peterson.

"“He’s really got two choices. He can either play for us, or he can not play. He’s not going to play for anybody else, and that’s just the way it’s going to be.”"

This statement may not hold as much water as Zimmer thinks, but at this point, no teams have stepped up with enough cash to land Peterson. Time will tell.

While that story has yet to fully unfold, there is ample evidence that at least one of the current backs has something to prove this next season. Randle was arrested in mid-October for shoplifting a Polo cologne tester and a two-pack of underwear from a Frisco, Texas department store.

The value was estimated at $120. Needless to say, this doesn’t demonstrate great judgment off the field for him, considering he had recently signed a four-year, $2.349 million contract at the time of his arrest.

A few days after the last Super Bowl in February, Randle was arrested again, this time for marijuana possession in a Wichita, Kansas hotel room.

Considering the heavy load that Murray carried in 2014, Randle did not see a lot of playing time. However, when he was on the field, he tried to make the most of it, carrying the ball 51 times for 343 yards and three touchdowns.

This is an astounding 6.73 yards per carry, but a good number of those carries came during games that were already in hand for the Cowboys, with second string squads on the field.

According to Pro Football Focus, Randle forced 10 missed tackles on just 55 total touches and he actually led the NFL in yards after contact per attempt with a 4.20 average.

It will be interesting to see how he responds to increased pressure and increased time on the field, which are both virtual certainties at this point.

Randle seems anxious to show that he has learned from his mistakes, and he wants the opportunity to show what he can do. Randle told the Dallas Morning News this about toiling behind Murray last season:

"“He had a good year last year, but I got to sit back and watch a lot and I felt like there was a lot of meat left on the bone. I’m going to try to go out there and grind as hard as I can.”"

This is exciting stuff for Cowboys fans. It’s meaningful to hear one of the current guys talking about how Murray could have done even better.

With regard to his recent antics, Randle had this to say via

"“Everything you go through in life you learn from it. I learned from it and moved past it. I’ve grown up. I made some young and silly mistakes but I’m moving forward.”"

Randle is a decisive runner, even if he’s not quite as fast or quite as large as Murray. At 6’0” and 210 pounds, Randle in his uniform looks much like Murray, who is the same height and listed at 217 pounds. Behind the league’s best offensive line, he has the potential to do great things, especially if the workload is split with other backs.

Assuming the Cowboys do not find a way to sign Peterson, I would like to see what Randle can do.

NFL teams should always welcome players who want to prove and improve themselves. Randle seems poised to do both.