As we approach the halfway point of the NFL season on the dawn of the second meeting between Cowboys and Eagles, surely we have a handle on the year’s biggest mystery.
Was last year’s epic Cowboys’ running game a product of DeMarco Murray? Or Dallas’ offensive line?
Answer: Um, how about none of the above? Or, better yet, all of the above.
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Together in 2014 those forces combined to allow Murray a franchise-record and NFL-leading 1,845 yards. Apart in 2015, both have been mediocre at best.
Given their $40 million contract offer, the Eagles were betting on Murray. And considering that they “replaced” Murray with only a patch-work committee of runners, the Cowboys obviously were counting on the offensive line.
But after seven games, neither has come close to approaching the sum of their parts.
In Philadelphia, Murray has slogged his way to only 307 yards. In a Week 2 loss to the Cowboys, he carried 13 times for an embarrassing two yards. But in Dallas this scene hasn’t unfolded much prettier. The Cowboys lost Lance Dunbar to injury and Joseph Randle to immaturity, and are now relying on Darren McFadden to shoulder a running game slowed by the loss of quarterback Tony Romo and defenses keyed on stopping a one-dimensional offense.
Both Murray and McFadden have only one 100-yard rushing game.
Even though they’ve lost five straight and enter Sunday night’s game desperately needing a win to stay afloat in the NFC East, I have to give the edge to the Cowboys in the case of Murray v. Offensive Line. Why?
A year ago, after seven games, Murray had 913 yards rushing; in Philly he has barely one-third that total.
The Cowboys, despite the obvious handicap of losing Romo, Dez Bryant and their passing game, have rushed for 895 yards, only 223 off last year’s record pace and good enough for 6th-best in the NFL.
But with a 5-game losing streak in tow and two members of their replacement committee gone, it's difficult to call the Cowboys’ decision a success.
Let’s just say both sides – DeMarco and the OL – have left a lot of meat on the bone.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.