Tag Archives: Adrian Peterson

Murray, Misleading, Money, Mistake

For the longest amount of time the Dallas Cowboys had been a mediocre team that showcased a multitude of deficiencies, year in and year out.

For a couple of years the problems came on the defensive side of the ball. While other years, it was poor O-line play, and lack of experience coaching wise. But even with those problems being at the forefront, there was still a problem that lingered and hindered them for a long period of time. That problem happened to be the lack of a run game.

During the 6-10 and countless 8-8 seasons, the ‘Boys went through a plethora of runningbacks. Guys like Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Phillip Tanner, Felix Jones and Sammy Morris had opportunities to shoulder the load, but none of them seized control of the moment like DeMarco Murray did in 2011.

Drafted in the 3rd round with the 71st pick he wasn’t sought out to be the #1 back. He was looked at as guy, for some, who would be a decent backup to Felix Jones. Meant to ease his load as he was often injured. Little did we know Murray was going to end up being a capable back.

DeMarco Murray’s Career Stats (Rushing)

Year  Games  Attempts  Yards   Y.P.C    Fum   TDs

2011:   13          164         897         5.5        1          2

2012:   10          161         663        4.1          2         4

2013:   14          217        1,121       5.2         2          9

2014:   16          392        1,845     4.7           3         13

When Murray was coming onto the scene and taking over for Felix Jones, he started to generate some buzz and make a name for himself. He was a hard runner who had pretty good vision, but would leave yards on the field as he tended to follow his blockers. And was deemed as a guy prone to injury. Solid, but not a stud. (AP, Charles, McCoy, Forte, Foster, Lynch, Rice, Turner).

As the years went by and he progressed, there started to be talk in regards to feeding him more and let Romo take a backseat. That argument really didn’t have much spring to it until after 2013 when he played in 14 games. His most to that date.

With Jason Garrett’s coaching job on the line, Romo’s back issues, and Murray’s contract being up; the Boys decided to run Murray, much to his liking this past season to see what he could do and also because it was the smart thing to do. Murray responded by breaking Smith’s franchise record yard count with 1,845 yards, and helped Romo have a career year and led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record.

Good things happened when he was fed the ball. They maintained drives. Opened up opportunities for Dez and Witten. Kept the defense off the field. Controlled time of possession. Spectacular.

From the outside looking in Murray seemed/seems to be the sole reason for the Cowboys success when that isn’t the case at all.

Did he help? Sure, but it’s deeper than him.

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From 2011-13 the Boy’s finished 8-8.

In 2011: the O-line wasn’t that good and ended up being the start of the rebuilding process as the Cowboys drafted left tackle Tyron Smith in the first round. (Murray also drafted). Injuries came all across the line plus Murray didn’t play in three of those games. This team was also one of the most heavily penalized teams. Garrett was the play caller.

In 2012: the defense ended up being historically bad. (3rd worst all time.) Rob Ryan was the defensive-coordinator, and despite his progression as a player, Murray showed a knack for getting injured. Star linebacker Sean Lee missed 10 games gutting the defense. Jason Garrett was the play caller. They were still heavily penalized. Rarely forced turnovers. However, Dez was officially established. And Murray missed 6 games.

In 2013: the Cowboys drafted center Travis Frederick in the first round aiding the line. Monte Kiffin became defensive coordinator changing the scheme of the defense. Sean Lee missed 5 games. Murray missed 2 games. And Tony Romo missed the final game of the season. The defense was a record setting defense and the worst in NFL history, ever. Bill Callahan was play caller. (Offensive coordinator as well.) Heavily penalized still.

In 2014: the Cowboys drafted guard Zack Martin. (All-Pro as a rookie). Murray played in all 16 games despite getting injured. Romo played in all 16 games. Rod Marinelli became defensive coordinator. Scott Linehan became the offensive coordinator as well as play caller. Callahan was moved to offensive line coach. The defense was slightly on par with being average. Sean Lee missed the full season. This team wasn’t penalized as much as previous years, and the defense forced the 2nd most turnovers in the league.

As I stated before, Murray was a key cog in the Cowboys success but he wasn’t the main reason.

Guys like Witten, Romo, and Dez made the game easier for him as he did for them. All of those guys were already proven stars while Murray was still on the cusp.

Having Murray did hide the defense some; but how much of it was really him when the defense was second behind Houston in forcing turnovers?

His leadership on the field was nice too, but does that out do Rolondo McClain’s and Justin Durant’s leadership on the other side of the ball? Oh wait, what about Dez being vocal and rallying guys hyping them up? Was that just Murray too?

I’m guessing Marinelli making the most of what little talent he had defensively was more about Murray too.

Football is the greatest team sport there is. Each man HAS to do their job for the other to succeed. Collective effort bottom line.

With all of that being said DeMarco Murray did deserve to be paid. Just not by the Cowboys.

Dallas couldn’t have afforded him and still have money to make some moves on the defensive side of the ball. Throw in the facts that the o-line is elite, Murray is prone to injury and that he started to slow down at the end of the season and the decision is a no brainier.

Running-backs can easily be replaced. You can have a two back tandem, a three headed monster, or just one stud and have a nice amount of production. Especially with a good offensive line.

With this upcoming draft being RB heavy, the Dallas Cowboys can easily find a replacement for DeMarco at a CHEAPER cost for four more years. Simple and smart. There will be money to add new players as well as feed your own.

The Bengals have a two headed monster. The Bills had a two headed monster. The Ravens found a quick Ray Rice replacement in Forsett….

The Boys are playing it smart right now, which is good. They know what they are doing.

Recent history shows they have a plan…

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Food For Thought:

Backup RB Joesph Randle

2013: 13 Games 54 Attempts 164 yards 3 YPC 2TD

2014: 16 Games 51 Attempts 343 yards 6.7 YPC 3TDs

Was it really Murray making the o-line or did the o-line make RBs in general better?

Only time will tell.

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Twitter: @FortonsportsInc @RyanDfort

The Top 15 Running Backs of All-Time

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15. Curtis Martin

Curtis Martin does not get enough credit. The man had 1,000 yards every year of his career outside of his final one in which he only played 12 games. He is the all-time leading rusher for the Jets and produced every single year of his pro career. He is the oldest player to ever lead the league in rushing. Martin was incredibly durable and had over 300 carries in all but 3 of the seasons he played. He was always reliable only having 29 fumbles out of over 4,000 touches.

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14. Thurman Thomas

Thurman was the star running back for the infamous 90s Buffalo Bills. He helped lead the team to 3 Super Bowl appearances. He was one of the first running backs to be featured in the passing game on a consistent basis. He had two seasons with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 4 seasons with over 50 receptions. He was always unfairly compared to Barry because of the time period but regardless he was a great running back.

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13. Shaun Alexander

When I think of the Seahawks I think of Shaun Alexander. That comes along with being able to watch him each week and not the other Seattle greats such as Steve Largent. I was never a huge fan but for a 5 year stretch he was without a doubt the best running back in the league. He had arguably one of the greatest seasons ever for a running back. He had 27 touchdowns (was a record then), led the league in yards with 1,880 yards and led the team to the Superbowl. He is the first guy ever to rush for at least 15 touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. His power running style did not allow him to be as great as he could’ve been after wearing down. He had a dramatic drop after his record breaking season. Nonetheless he should not be forgotten because Alexander was an elite running back.

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12. Terrell Davis

Elway gets all of the attention for his two Super Bowls to end his career, but in reality the reason the Denver Broncos got back to back championships was because of Terrell Davis. His three year stretch from 1996-98 is one of the most prolific for a running back. He had two offensive player of the year awards , an MVP and a Super Bowl MVP award. T.D. not being in the Hall of Fame is a crime, hopefully it won’t be too much longer before he gains his rightful place in Canton.

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11. Marshall Faulk

Marshall Faulk took the receiving game for a running back to a whole other level. In 1999 he gathered over 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. He was used in every type of offense and was essential for the “Greatest Show on Turf”. He had 4 seasons with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and two years with a total of over 20 touchdowns. He never backed down even in big games having two hall of fame performances in each Superbowl he appeared in.

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10. Gale Sayers

His career was cut incredibly short retiring at the age of 28, but without a doubt could have been a top 3 running back of all-time. He was an all-around athlete. His power and deceptive speed would tear through the opposing defenses. Without a doubt one of those guys that you ask what could have been if not for injuries.

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9. Earl Campell

Is another guy who defined his Hall of Fame status very early in his career. In his first three season he had 5,081 rushing yards, 45 touchdowns, and 4.9 yards a carry. You almost felt sorry for defenders that stood in front of this freight train as he cannon balled through holes. Sadly his body could not take the beatings it received every Sunday.

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8. Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is physically possibly the greatest ever. He can run over a linebacker, juke a defensive back out of his shoes and has the vision to find the hole that he can take advantage of. He owns the record for most rushing yards ever in a game with 296 yards. His most impressive season was without a doubt the season following Peterson coming off of an ACL surgery in which he gained the second most yards ever in a season averaging 6.0 yards a carry. The 6.0 yards a carry with the defense stacking the box on him is beyond impressive. He wasted this season due to off-field issues but I hope he jumps farther up this list, because he is totally capable of ending his career as a top 3 running back of all-time.

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7. O.J. Simpson

It’s funny that most people of my generation do not even know that O.J. was a football player and know him for his infamous trial. Nonetheless the “Juice” was a dominating running back in the 70s. In 1973 he had 2,003 yards in only 14 games averaging over 140 yards a game. This record will probably be one that will never be broken especially with the trigger happy passing offenses that dominate the league today. Take away what you have heard about him and look at his production and you may even argue that he should be higher.

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6. Eric Dickerson

Eric Dickerson came into the league and immediately made an impact. He reached the Hall of Fame with his numbers in his first 5 years in the league being a dominating force for the Rams and then later the Colts. From 1983-89 Dickerson never had less than 1,000 yards. He owns the record that so many have tried to break with his 2,105 yards in a season. Injuries came to Dickerson very quickly and he had a dramatic drop after his first 7 years.

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5. Emmitt Smith

Emmit was a great running back and nobody can deny that. Yes he had one of the greatest offensive lines in history but that should not take away from what he did as a Cowboy. He was impossible for defenders to bring down. He helped lead the Cowboys to 3 Super Bowl championships. His best performance is coming back into the game in week 17 against the Giants and led them to a victory coming back from a separated shoulder.

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4. La’Dainian Tomlinson

The “L.T.” I grew to love dominated all aspects of the game. He was a touchdown machine having over double digits from 2001-2009. He was the first running back ever to have 1,000 yards rushing and 100 catches in a season. He owns the record for most touchdowns in a season breaking Shaun Alexander’s record the year after Alexander had his amazing season. L.T. once scored 19 touchdowns in a six game stretch. That just completely astounds me. He holds the record for most consecutive multi-touchdown games in a row with eight. He is second all-time in touchdowns and would have been first if he tried to stay in the league longer than he should like Emmit did.

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3. Walter Payton

Walter Payton did everything you could ask of a running back. He could catch when it was needed, he was a great blocker, and without a doubt the 3rd best running back of all-time. He was also always there when you needed him at one point playing in 186 consecutive games. He is second all-time in rushing yards and fourth in all-time rushing touchdowns. He is known as the best all-around back to have ever played.

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2. Jim Brown

Jim Brown was a man among boys. So far ahead of his time, many believe him to be the greatest football player of all time. He lead the league in rushing every single year except for one. And retired owning nearly every single rushing record imaginable. He was the most unstoppable force imposing power and deceptive speed. He retired very early in his career; it’s crazy to think about how good his numbers could have been if he stayed around another couple of years.

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1. Barry Sanders

Barry was probably the most electrifying player to ever step foot into the league. He had a horrible offensive line and the rest of the weapons around him were below par. Despite that Barry made the most of every play. He was so fast that he could run to one side of the field, decide he doesn’t like it, and then turn it all the way to the other side of the field for a positive gain. He’s one of those players that nobody could hate because he was going against the odds every single time he stepped out on to the field. He retired surprisingly early and if he stayed for just another 2-3 years he would have without a doubt owned the record for career rushing yards.

The NFL’s Most Underrated

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The Detroit Lions have somehow stayed under the radar despite overcoming the enormous issues the team has had so far this season. They lead the division and have earned it no matter how ugly it has been. I picked this team to take the NFC North this year and I am not backing down from that pick. Surprisingly, with Reggie Bush (missed 2 games) , Calvin Johnson (missed 3 games) , Golden Tate, and Matthew Stafford you would expect the offense to be prolific. Instead the Lions rank 25th in total offensive yards, 31st in rushing yards, and 24th in points per game. This offense should be much better than it has been, and despite many people pointing the finger at Stafford I believe there’s more people to blame for the struggles of the offense than just the quarterback. There has been horrible play-calling, all kinds of injuries, and the whole offense outside of Golden Tate looks lost. Without Calvin Johnson they look dazed and confused about what to do. “Megatron” is the most important piece to this offense and with him back look for the offense to start putting points on the board.

This year has been all about the defense for Detroit. A lot of analysts seem to believe the stats do not tell the story of who has the best defense this year, but I beg to differ. They rank 1st in total defensive yards, 5th in passing yards allowed per game, 2nd in rushing yards allowed per game, and 1st in points allowed per game. You do not rank in the top 5 of every defensive stat and not be a legit stout defense. They held Aaron Rodgers to only 7 points which completely astounded me, and right when the Falcons looked like they might have found a groove the Lions did not allow them to score a single point in the second half in London.

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With all the injuries that have been going around, there should be no reason why they hold the division lead. They lost all 3 of their tight ends at one point, Stephan Tulloch, a very solid MLB, took out his ACL this year in an embarrassing fashion, after celebrating for a sack that was not even his, Nick Fairley an important piece on the defensive front, Joique Bell missed a game. Even with those key injuries they are still sitting at the top of the division.

Ndamukong Suh is looking to leave this upcoming offseason, and seems like nothing will change his mind. It will be a huge hit to the squad with him out, because when he brings his A-game to the field there is not a single guy in the league on defense I would rather have than him. He is the guy drawing double-teams and opening things up for other guys to attack the quarterback. For them to ever win anything they must have Suh. And if this is truly his last year there they need to make the effort to make the most of this season.

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The Chicago Bears have been a disappointment to everyone, and the Vikings lost their season as soon as Adrian Peterson stopped playing. This division will come down to the Lions and Packers. Both teams do not have an easy schedule going forward and it will come down to the last game of the season. The teams will face off in Lambeau Field in week 17 which undoubtedly will be a very important game for both teams. The Lions have shown they can stop Rodgers, and if they stay healthy I see no reason in why they cannot win in Lambeau.

The sky is the limit in Detroit, and even though I still have the San Francisco 49ers taking the NFC this year, I have a strong belief in this team. I have this feeling I got last year from the Seattle Seahawks (without that home-field advantage) who I had predicted would win the Super Bowl last season. The Lions have something I do not believe Seahawks ever had. They have a hall of fame receiver and a quarterback who can make plays down the field. If they can mesh the potential of an above average offense with a stout defense they will be the one team nobody will want to face in the Playoffs. Next week they face the Arizona Cardinals in Arizona. If Carson Palmer truly does have a torn ACL, then the Lions will have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. If they do that they will be standing atop the entire conference and people would be asking the question, “Are the Lions the real deal?” My answer in short is yes, but to prove my point they have to win this upcoming game against the best team in football the Arizona Cardinals.