DeMarco Murray's 601 yards in the last four weeks has earned him all kinds of praise.
It is all well deserved, Murray's emergence has turned the Cowboys' season around and revealed the kind of offensive depth they are going to need to wind up in the playoffs this season. If he keeps it up, he'll be a rookie of the year candidate and the subject of many a fawning profile.
The only problem with that course of events is that Murray isn't doing this all by himself. There's been a distinct shift in the Cowboys' offensive philosophy since Murray's ascension to the top tailback spot, one that's best exemplified by the increased playing time given to Tony Fiammetta.
Fiammetta played only two of the first five games of the season, but the Cowboys won both of those games. The fullback has been active in each of the last four games, the same four games that have seen Murray explode onto the scene. With Fiammetta in the lineup, the Cowboys have been running a steady diet of I-formation which makes the fullback a battering ram that opens holes for the back behind him.
When Felix Jones was the lead back, you didn't see nearly as much of the classic formation from the Cowboys. It was a lot more about using speed to win battles, something that wasn't particularly successful because defenses didn't have to worry about brute force bowling them over. Now, though, the Cowboys can beat teams multiple ways and defenses find themselves at a loss to stop all of the possibilities.
It's working out like a charm, with no small assist from an offensive line that has also been together for four straight games. That's a first for this season and you can see how the continuity and cohesion is paying off on the field. We knew the Cowboys line would be a work in progress this season -- and it will remain one -- so it makes sense that a little bit of familiarity goes a long way.
The funniest part of this development is the way Jason Garrett, who long held the title of offensive whiz kid, is finding his biggest success with as plain vanilla a scheme as you'll ever see. Using a fullback and running straight ahead out of the I is the kind of stuff you see at the most basic levels of football, but you can't argue with keeping things simple when the results are as good as they've been for the Cowboys.
You'll hear someone making a big deal about Murray at some point during this weekend's game with the Redskins. When you do, just remember that he isn't the only running back who has emerged at the right time for the Cowboys.