When healthy, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has shown the ability to be a Pro Bowler in the NFL. The Oklahoma Sooner product has all the measurables (6 foot, 215 pounds, 4.41 40 yard dash) one wants in its workhorse back. His bruising running style reminds one of Earl Campbell, yet his open field speed and breakaway ability conjure up memories of Eric Dickerson.
Murray has been fantastic when he’s been able to dodge the injury bug, and he is unquestionably the Cowboys’ best back since Emmitt Smith. In his rookie season of 2011, Murray ran at 5.5 yards a carry, rushing for 897 yards in just 13 games. In 2012, Murray ran for 663 yards on 161 attempts, scoring four times. However, in both seasons, Murray was hampered by injuries – missing four games in his rookie season due to an ankle injury and six in his second season due to a sprained left foot. Remarkably, Murray still finished the 2012 season as the Cowboys leader in rushing yards, as now free agent Felix Jones – never the same since his 800 yard 2010 campaign – managed just 402 yards on 111 attempts while appearing in all 16 games.
It is no secret then that the Cowboys will need Murray in 2013 if they want to go places. For one, he is a do-it-all back as a great pass protector and receiver out of the backfield (in his first 23 career games, Murray has 61 catches for 434 yards). Second, he takes a world of pressure off of Tony Romo. In the six games Murray missed last season, the Cowboys threw a total of 269 times (44.8 per game) with Romo twice throwing 62 times. When Murray was healthy, Romo threw an average of 38 times per game.
The difference may seem slight, but any NFL team would tell you that the best way to be efficient on offense is to have balance. This is especially true in Dallas’ case whose offensive line was among the worst in the league last year leaving Romo running for cover on seemingly every drop back.
Offensive balance for the Cowboys is a must if they want to stay competitive in an ever improving NFC, and Murray being healthy and productive is the key to that happening. Rookie Joseph Randle should be able to spell Murray from time to time in the run game, but the Cowboys’ number one needs to be healthy this season if America’s Team has any chance of being taken seriously. If he can remain on the field, expect him to produce Pro Bowl type numbers as one of the top rushers in game and lead the Cowboys to a successful season.