Cowboys Front Office and DeMarco Murray were both wrong
This offseason, the Dallas Cowboys drew a line in the sand when it came to running back DeMarco Murray. Despite rushing for a league-leading 1,845 yards last season, the Cowboys front office refused to pay the free agent top dollar due to his vast injury history. The 27-year old running back, sensing this may be his last chance at a big pay day, looked elsewhere to secure both his financial and football future. Four games into the NFL’s regular season, it appears both parties were wrong.
Was the Cowboys front office wrong for wanting to be fiscally responsible? Absolutely not. But thinking they could replace Murray with a running back by committee is where they made their fatal mistake. Leaning on their formidable offensive line, Dallas thought almost any player could find success toting the rock behind them. They were wrong. But both running backs Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden have struggled so far this season.
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Through Week Four, Randle has recorded 229 rushing yards and four scores. He’s averaging 3.9 yards per carry, which is tied for 31st in the NFL. McFadden hasn’t fared any better, posting only 113 yards and a touchdown on the ground in four games. He’s averaging just 3.5 yards per carry in 2015. Last season, Murray racked up 534 rushing yards and five scores in his first four games of the year. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry in that span.
So based on that information, Murray deserves a lot of credit for what he was able to do behind the Cowboys offensive line last year, as neither Randle or McFadden have been able to duplicate it. But DeMarco was wrong this offseason as well.
After signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, Murray was expected to excel under the Bird’s high-octane offense under head coach Chip Kelly. What was once laughably called the “Dream Team” in Philly has turned into an outright nightmare for the former Cowboy running back. So far this season, last year’s rushing leader has recorded a total of 47 yards on the ground for the Eagles, averaging a poultry 1.6 yards per carry in three games. So, Murray was wrong too. His talents haven’t translated at all without the Cowboys stellar offensive line to block for him.
Ultimately, it’s a lose-lose situation for both the player and his former team. The Cowboys miss Murray’s hard-nosed running style. And DeMarco misses having the opportunities provided by Dallas’ coaching staff (via carries) and it’s talented offensive line.
Does the runner make the O-line? Or does the O-line make the runner? Through the first four weeks of the new NFL season, the answer appears to lie somewhere in-between when it comes to Murray and the Cowboys. Dallas’ offensive line has looked average at times without the veteran runner in the backfield. And DeMarco in Philly has been nothing short of disastrous so far.
If both sides had things to do over again, my guess is they would have found some common ground this offseason. And Murray would be defending his crown as the league’s rushing leader with the Cowboys in 2015.
Next: Three things the Cowboys offense must do to beat New England