Time to Lighten Murray’s Load
Now that the Cowboys have shocked the world, for a sixth straight week, and improved to an NFL-best 6-1 on the season, it’s become clear to me that one of two things will happen at the end of this season. Either the Cowboys will have the greatest season in the past 18 years OR they will live the rest of their lives regretting the fact that they had the best running back in the game and completely used and abused him. To the point that he played 8-10 games, tore a knee or dislocated a shoulder or went into a coma induced by total fatigue. Once again Sunday the Cowboys shined behind the running of DeMarco Murray, the over-powering offensive line and the steady play and decision-making of Tony Romo.
It is a formula that no one, not the Saints, the Texans, the Seahawks or the Giants have been able to figure out. Well, maybe figure out is the wrong words, surely these teams know what the Cowboys have been doing and continue to do each and every week, they just can’t do anything about it. That is one of the trademarks of all great teams, they force their will upon you. You know it’s coming and you may be able to delay it a bit but you can’t stop it. The Cowboys start almost every game the same, handing the ball off to Murray to see if three straight carries will get a first down. If it does, the Cowboys accomplish two things — moving the chains and demoralizing the opponent who expected Murray to get the ball and still couldn’t stop him.
Murray had another 100 yard game Sunday, which makes 7 straight to start this season and sets a new all-time NFL record…he’s the only player–EVER–to start a season with seven consecutive 100 yard games. Not Brown, not O.J. not Barry, not Walter. DeMarco Murray has established himself unlike any other running back at the beginning of a season. Quite an accomplishment. Sunday he ran for 128 yards and did it on 28 carries. LeSean McCoy led the league last year with seven 100 yard games…all season. The yards are nice, the carries are a concern. In my eyes, and many others, a real concern. Murray now has 187 carries on the year for 913 yards. It’s the third most yards in NFL history after seven games. Murray is averaging just under 27 carries per game. Over the course of a full 16 game season, that would be 427 carries. Larry Johnson set the mark with 416 carries in 2006 with the Chiefs. He didn’t do much after that season.
I have no problem with the Cowboys using Murray as they are, it’s obviously very effective. I do have a problem with them over-using him. On pace to have the most single-season carries in NFL history is not a mark that the Cowboys want for Murray, who in his career has never played in more than 8 consecutive games. He’s at seven now. I realize how tough it will be for Jason Garrett to put out the order to ease up on Murray but it has to be done. There needs to be times in the games where Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle can give Murray a break longer than one play. If the Cowboys can cruise to a few wins then let those guys mop up. Twenty to twenty four carries should be ideal for Murray and it would be wonderful if he went a few games with just 18.
He’s in a contract year and due a huge raise after this season–Jerry just better hope Murray will have the legs to be able to carry all that money to the bank.