Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
When you think of the 2013 Dallas Cowboys’ offense, chances are you think of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and of course, Jason Witten.
The common thread between those four players is the passing game, and for good reason. Romo, as inconsistent as he can be, is a tremendous quarterback when he’s on, and Bryant, Austin and Witten are exceptional targets.
While it could be easy to get caught up in Dallas’ passing game, let’s take a few moments to focus on the running attack. The Cowboys’ running game may not get the attention it once did, and much of that may have to do with the fact that their No. 1 back, DeMarco Murray, has struggled to stay healthy.
Murray played in 13 games in 2011, and only appeared in 10 in 2012. Still, he’s totaled 1,646 yards and six touchdowns in those limited experiences.
When Murray is healthy, he’s a great running back, and for all intents and purposes, he should be ready to go this Sunday at Arrowhead.
Considering he’s still somewhat of an unknown in the NFL, I felt it was a good idea to examine Murray from a scouting perspective. Even though he only garnered 86 yards on 20 touches last weekend against the Giants, he displayed a lot of the attributes that you look for in a No. 1 running back at the NFL level.
Take a look at the end zone film of this zone stretch run to the left, courtesy of NFL Rewind (markings are my own). This is a 11 yard gain from Murray in the first quarter. Even as the play develops, you can clearly see the hole Murray is aiming for:
Notice how when the edge starts to close, he plants his foot into the ground and explodes up field through a fairly small hole. That shows patience, explosion and tremendous vision:
Once he gets through the hole, you’ll see him lower his shoulder and play some physical football, which allows him to pick up extra yards. Even after the hit, he keeps moving his feet and spins off, finally going down after the second clean-up hit:
In just one simple stretch play, Murray displayed patience, explosion and physicality. Look out for those three traits this Sunday, Addicts.
Murray is also going to be an option out of the backfield. He caught eight passes for 39 yards last weekend against the Giants, and in his previous two seasons, he’s totaled 61 receptions for 434 yards. He’s shifty and athletic enough to make a defense pay once he gets out into open space:
DeMarco Murray may be somewhat of an enigma to Chiefs fans because of his lack of exposure due to injuries, but he’s a player I, for one, will be watching intently this Sunday as Kansas City takes on Dallas.
One great way to counter the Chiefs’ aggressiveness on defense would be to rely on the running game, so don’t be surprised if Murray gets some looks early and often at Arrowhead.
After all, we’re still talking about the same running back who can do this: