Dallas Cowboys | DeMarco Murray: Vital part of Dallas offense when healthy

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Randy Dallas Cowboys | DeMarco Murray: Vital part of Dallas offense when healthy

Randy

Editor-in-chief at silverandbluereport
Randy Maltz is a die-hard sports fan, with passion for the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns. He is Founder & Editor of Silver and Blue Report and Hook 'em Report. He still idolizes Roger Staubach and Tom Landry.
Randy Dallas Cowboys | DeMarco Murray: Vital part of Dallas offense when healthy
Randy Dallas Cowboys | DeMarco Murray: Vital part of Dallas offense when healthy

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Massimo’s NFL Blog
Dallas Cowboys | DeMarco Murray: Vital part of Dallas offense when healthy
By Massimo Russo – Featured Writer Silver and Blue Report & Hook’em Report

DeMarco Murray 150x150 Dallas Cowboys | DeMarco Murray: Vital part of Dallas offense when healthy

An effective running game and a healthy DeMarco Murray is a vital part of the Dallas offense to improve their chances going forward. The 2009 season was a season the Dallas Cowboys went 11-5, winning their second division title in three seasons and first playoff victory in 13 years.
That season, the running game was ranked 7th in the league, a running game that featured a bruising running back like Marion Barber III, and two change-of-pace running backs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Barber carried most of the load, finishing the season with 932-yards rushing as a smash-mouth style of runner, Jones, a scat-back averaged 5.9-yards per carry, while Choice, a shifty style of runner averaged 5.5-yards per carry. The running game also ran behind an offensive line that featured two Pro Bowlers, center Andre Gurode and guard Leonard Davis, a key asset that also helped Tony Romo win his first and only playoff game since being the starting quarterback of the Cowboys.

Romo threw only 9-interceptions in 09 with a solid running game and much better than subpar offensive line unlike he’s had over the past three seasons.

So let’s go inside the Romo meter here, as I do the “Numbers Rumba” after the 09 season, when as a team, the Cowboys rushed for 2,103-yards:

2010: The lights were turned out quick. Romo played only 6 games after suffering a season ending injury. He threw 7 interceptions behind a less effective running game and offensive line. Big reason why he was injured for the season, his fullback missed a blocking assignment on a blitz from Giants linebacker Michael Boley.

2011: Threw 31-touchdown passes and only 10-interceptions behind a subpar offensive line, his best season by far in terms of statistics and made receiver Laurent Robinson a rich man, making him a key free agent out on the market, after throwing 11 of his 31-touchdown passes to him. Robinson didn’t return in 2012 as he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a 5-year, $32.5 million deal. Where’s Robinson now? However, a key factor that helped Romo that season was rookie running back DeMarco Murray who gave the Cowboys offense a spark, giving the offense balance. Murray averaged 5.5-yards per carry and opposing defenses took account of the young talented back, but a season ending injury to him made the Cowboys offense one-dimensional again. With Murray absent, the running game tanked and Romo running for his life, trying to elude a barrage of pass-rushers, finally caught up to him with the NFC East title on the line against a nasty Giants defense.

2012: Offensive line was a disgusting mess. DeMarco Murray missed lots of action due to a (sprained foot) and the running game finished in the bottom pack of the league. And with a dismal running game and perhaps his worst offensive line he’s had since quarterbacking the Cowboys, Romo threw 19 interceptions for a one dimensional type of offense. The season ended with another heartbreaking loss after Romo threaded the needle on a costly interception with the NFC East title on the line against the Redskins.

As you can see, the lack of a running game has had a negative effect on Romo, not to mention, the putrid play from the defense in big spots as well. Not making excuses for Romo or exiting out his ways of slipping on the Banana Peel, but when a quarterback feels like he always has to do something big without a running game or a defense that you don’t feel comfortable with that can get you stops, you start to force the issue and that’s when the threading the needle factors start happening that’s cost him and the Cowboys big time.

How can this change?

Having a style of runner like Murray, if he could stay healthy, dictates your style of passing game. A certain style of runner like Murray can also have a positive effect on an offensive line that’s struggled. Here’s a key statistic that shows proof on why Murray staying healthy is extremely important – The Cowboys are 8-0 when Murray has 20 plus carries. Having a runner that can run between and outside the tackles that can also catch out of the backfield, creates balance on offense, setting up the play-action pass. It also helps control the tempo and help win you games with a lead in the 4th quarter when you can chew up lots of clock.

Make no mistake, Murray needs to avoid bumps, bites and bruises, but you need more than just one running back in today’s game. When Murray was missing in action for six games, the Cowboys running game had no one else to put a band aid on the wound. Felix Jones showed up to training camp out of shape last summer and he never got into a grove once the season began. Felix Jones is now an Eagle and in his replacement, the Cowboys drafted running back Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State. Randle is a hard-nosed runner with the ability to break tackles, has good enough speed and can catch out of the backfield.

When at Oklahoma State, the standout back rushed for 38 touchdowns in his last two seasons. Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown was shocked that Randle was still available in the 5th round of the 2013 draft.

“It’s a lottery,” Brown said. “I don’t know why Terrell Davis slipped to the sixth and he had a 2,000-yard season. You don’t know why Arian Foster never got drafted. Things just happen. This whole draft thing, it ain’t a perfect science. We make mistakes, so that’s what it is.”

The Cowboys may have found themselves a steal with Randle, but time will only tell that story to be told in the near future. At the moment, Murray remains the starter and Randle should be the number 2 and change-of-pace runner to be used on certain offensive packages to give Murray a breather. The most important factor in all of this is limiting the pass attempts of quarterback Tony Romo. In 2009, he attempted 550 passes and threw his least interception total in a season with a balanced offense. Last season, he attempted 648 passes and threw a league leading 19-interceptions.

Romo is a risk-taking type of quarterback always looking for the big play, but if the running game steps out of the closet and into the spotlight, he won’t be as erratic like he is from time to time, trying to do too much. He needs the offensive line to bring their boxing gloves to the ring and stick and move, stick and move. He also needs a quarterbacks 2nd main squeeze outside of left tackle, he needs a fresh clean-cut, power-charged Energizer Bunny that’ll keep going and going and going, running back DeMarco Murray.

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