Will Having a 1,000 Yard Rusher Determine Dallas Cowboys' Fate in 2013?

By Ben Grimaldi
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2006, when Julius Jones ran for 1,084 yards. They are only one of three teams in the NFL to fail have a 1,000 yard rusher over that time span, along with the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints.

Let that information sink in and think about how absurd that is. It takes a mere 62.5 yards a game to reach 1,000 for the season, which, by the way, isn’t the mark for a great season anymore. Reaching 1,200 yards is much more of the barometer for running backs these days and it’s been ages since the Cowboys had a running back hit that mark. That year was 2000 and the runner was obviously Emmitt Smith.

The run of futility for the Dallas Cowboys and their running back needs to come to an end if the Cowboys are to make the playoffs in 2013. Tony Romo is a very good quarterback but he can’t do it alone. DeMarco Murray needs to hit the 1,000 yard mark in order for the Cowboys offense to be what it should be. Murray possesses all the ability in the world and he needs to stay healthy in order to hit the magic number.

Having a running back reach 1,000 yards in a season hasn’t been the ultimate reason for the Cowbooooys success in recent playoff years but it stands to reason that it certainly helps. In 2006 when Jones ran for 1,084 yards the Cowboys made the playoffs. They also made the playoffs in 2007, when Marion Barber ran for 975 yards while splitting carries with Jones, and in 2009 when Barber ran for 932 yards while missing a game due to injury. So maybe the 1,000 yard mark isn’t the exact number but getting close certainly helps.

Close for the Cowboys this upcoming season might not get it done so they need to commit to running the football. They need Murray, or any other runner, to reach the 1,000 yard mark. The running game needs to do their part in the offense to keep the Cowboys balanced.

Last week I mentioned how the Cowboys are 9-0 in games where DeMarco Murray had at least 18 carries, but the numbers go much deeper than that when trying to predict success for the Cowboys. Since 2007, when Tony Romo took over as the full-time starting quarterback, he hasn’t had a 1,000 yard rusher behind him. However, Romo’s record is 22-4 when a running back has had at least 18 carries behind him. I’m no math major but it sure looks like the Cowboys are a darn good football team when they get enough carries to balance their offense.

However, math does come into play when trying to get a Cowboys running back to 1,000 yards and I’ll make it easy. Let’s say the Cowboys give Murray an average of 18 carries per game, for 13 games this season. Most fans are realistic and don’t expect Murray to play a full season, so using 13 games is a reasonable estimate, and by taking his career average of 4.8 yards per carry into account for 13 games at 18 carries per game, Murray would run for 1,123 yards.

If Murray runs for that amount of yards, history tells us the Cowboys will be a very good team in 2013. Running for 1,000 yards doesn’t guarantee the Cowboys will make the playoffs but that number does make a compelling case for Dallas to make a stronger commitment to running the ball this season.

Ben is a Cowboys writer for Rantsports.com and you can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi, or add him on Google+

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