The Cowboys offense found their true identity last year. In the age of the quarterback, the Cowboys found success running the ball. The drafting of Zach Martin solidified their offensive line and made it possible for them to focus on the running game. This led to a more efficient passing game.
Tony Romo’s average yard per attempt saw an increase. Not only did he have more time, but the opposing defenses were caught off guard at times trying to stop the running game. His completion percentage was nearly 70% last year, tops among Quarterbacks that had at least 130 attempts. While we are on the topic of attempts, Romo was a better QB with fewer passing attempts. His 435 attempts in 2014 is a hundred less than in 2013 and over two less in 2012. The fewer drop backs, the less likely he will take those punishing hits that lead to more injury.
The offensive line and the receiving corp deserves to be commended, but don’t over look the man in the back field. DeMarco Murray proved that he could stay healthy. He also proved that he is an elite running back, capable of carrying the workload for your team. Murray rushed for 1,845 yards last season on his way to the Rushing Crown, the first Cowboy to do that since Emmitt Smith in 1995.
Murray will be set to see what his market value will be once free agency begins March 10. The reigning rush king will have its suitors. The Chargers, Lions and Colts are all teams that would be interested in his services. They believe that if they could establish the run, they would be immediate championship contenders. Another team that might be interested is already a contender as they have been to the last two Superbowl games, the Seattle Seahawks. If Marshawn Lynch doesn’t come back next year, they would need a strong versatile runner to take his place. DeMarco Murray wouldn’t be a bad contingency plan.
All these teams could offer Murray more money. The only thing that they can’t offer is the Cowboys Offensive Line which boasts three pro bowlers. The Cowboys package deal, with this line, solid play calling, and strong supporting casts could tilt the table in their favor. If what DeMarco Murray said is really true, what is the best place for him?
He was quoted in January as saying “What’s best for me is to win a Superbowl and win one now. At the end of the day, the money is irrelevant to some degree. But you definitely want to get what you’re worth and things like that.” Every one wants to feel valued and appreciated. So once he hits the market and a range is set, the Cowboys will have their shot at retaining his talents.
There is a notion that the amazing year that DeMarco Murray had isn’t worth the weight and salary cap dollars. Some seem to believe in the GEICO effect, that running behind this line would be “so easy a caveman can do it.” That you can plug in any runner and get the same production. While I do agree that it is to a running backs liking to be surrounded by this cast and running behind this line would be a dream, but how “easy” is it to run against 300 pound men 300 odd times in a season. Many forget that in 2013, when this line wasn’t cohesive and was without Zach Martin, Murray averaged 5.2 yards a carry. With every touch he was half way to a first down.
Murray is the total package at running back. He has the size and strength to run through the tackles, the speed to get around to the edge, the explosion to get through the holes and past the second level of the defense. And perhaps the best quality in a running back- patience and vision.
The one thing that the Cowboys should be cautious of, is that Murray is 27 years of age. To give a long huge contract to a player that might not fulfill the length of the contract would be prudent. A four-year deal would be as far as I would go, and that year might be at a team option.
I am a firm believer that you take care of the people who take care of you. That you reward those who set new standards of excellence. The Cowboys appear to at least want to give it a shot. The Cowboys best game plan involves a steady running game. They need a running back that is up to the task. They must decide if he is the best option or not from all aspects, especially financially. Do they look for a back in this upcoming draft, which is deep at running back or in free agency. The ball is in Murray’s court. He will test the market and see what team wants him. We now wait to see where he wants to play.