DeMarco Murray Stats and Record
DeMarco Murray carried the ball 28 times for 128 yards and scored 1 touchdown on Sunday versus the New York Giants to become the only player in NFL history that has rushed for over 100 yards in the first 7 games of the season. Murray was tied with Jim Brown as being the only two players in NFL history that had rushed for 100 yards in their first 6 games of the season.
DeMarco Murray is in the final year of his contract and is having his most productive season so far. Through his first 6 games, DeMarco Murray had 785 rushing yards. He had more rushing yards through his first 6 games than Eric Dickerson had through his 1st 7 games in 1984 when he set the rushing record. DeMarco Murray has 913 rushing yards after his 7th game on Sunday.
Is DeMarco Murray durable enough to keep up his historic pace? Murray has the 4th-most rushing attempts in NFL history through 6 games with 159 carries. His 159 carries is putting him on pace for an NFL-record 424 rushes on the season. Before this season Murray's season high in carries came in 2013 with 217 carries. If he stays on this pace he will double his previous season high in carries.
Saving DeMarco Murray
It is clear to me that the Cowboys must find ways to save DeMarco Murray so he can make it through the whole season. One thing I believe they can do is use him as a decoy more. So far this season Murray has gained more rush yards on first down (686) than anyone else has on all four downs this season.
Defensive coordinators will see this and will start to stack the line of scrimmage and make it impossible to run on first down. When they start doing this Tony Romo can fake the ball to DeMarco Murray and hit Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, or any other Cowboy receiver as they will be facing man coverage.Instead of taking DeMarco Murray out of the game they can use him as a decoy and get some really big plays.
Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan could also put DeMarco Murray on a pitch count. Coming into the game he should be able to tell the number of times they are going to run the ball. I would go into the game planning for Murray to have 20-23 carries, but if the game calls for it and the game is on the line you give him the extra carries. So far this season DeMarco Murray has averaged about 27 carries per game.
Linehan should game plan for backup running back Joseph Randle to get about 10 carries per game. Randle has averaged an eye popping 7 yards per carry this season, but he has only carried the ball 16 times through the first 6 games of the season. Randle is better than Murray at quick hitting running plays in man blocking. Murray is more of a reader and then he accelerates through the hole, he is more of a zone runner.
The Seattle Seahawks did something similar to this with Russell Wilson last year on the zone read play. During the regular season they saved Wilson and did not want him to keep the ball, but hand it off to the running back. When they got in the playoffs they gave Wilson the green light and he ran the ball more in the playoffs then he did during the season.
The Cowboys other backup running back Lance Dunbar is more a Reggie Bush type back. I was happy to see Linehan have himLance Dunbar
in the game and pitched him the ball around the left end. They could game plan for Dunbar to run sweeps, screens, and be more of a receiver out of the backfield. They could use him as a 3rd down back to rest DeMarco Murray. The bottom line is the Cowboys must do what they have to do to win. If they can win and give DeMarco Murray a break then they should do it. The more rested he is the farther the Cowboys can go.