Tag Archives: Sean Lee

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

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Reason To Believe?

yuh

No Ware, no Austin, no Lee, no Hatcher, no Ratliff and no sign of improvement. Looking at the schedule the Cowboys would be lucky to win six games in most eyes, while others will settle down and say they’ll make it to eight wins. The schedule is hard. Romo is one major hit from being out and the defense is still disgraceful. Despite all of that there is still a reason to believe. Am I saying they could make a run a the Superbowl, HELL NO. But what I am saying is that they could at least be formidable.

    Here in the offseason the Cowboys did a few good things.

  •    Improved the O-Line
  •    Brought in a new play caller
  •   Switched Defensive coordinators
  •   Got younger
  •   Didn’t throw money at anyone
  •  Made the right football decisions
  • Committed to Romo (Meaning no QB distractions or tanking)

 Letting go of Ware was smart. His play didn’t match his pay over the past few years and didn’t seem to be getting any better. Hatcher was already in his 30’s and you don’t overpay age, so letting him go was ideal as well. Cutting Austin was a smart decision too, because he was killing the cap and couldn’t stay healthy. In the end drafting an offensive lineman instead of Manziel was the smartest thing that was done. (This could be argued at a different time.)

By bulking up the O-line the Cowboys have assured three to four things. Romo will be protected, he’ll be more accurate, they’ll run the ball more and the offense will be much better. New play caller Scott Linehan will help the offense a lot more as well and expand the games of many players as well as the dynamic of the playbook which was often viewed as too simplistic.

With Linehan on board the Cowboys will be able to utilize Dez Bryant, Escobar and Dunbar in ways that weren’t apprehendable before. Dez will be moving/lining up all over the place in ways that Calvin Johnson did. Dunbar will be used in screen plays like Reggie Bush and Escobar will become a big redzone threat. Williams will only improve and Witten will still be there in bail out time. The O-line now has three First Rd. picks on board and should be to protect Romo and create holes for Murray. Most believe this O-line will blossom into a top three or five group which could create a lot of problems for opposing defenses.

There have also been a lot of talk and hype from the Cowboys camp as well. Romo has been saying he’s better than ever and that his best years are in front of him. Dez has been talking about how high of ceiling he has and how he’s ready to take the next step. Murray also said he’s ready to carry the load. Even Jerry Jones came out and talked about how confident he is in this offense. All of the talk has to equate to something right?

After glossing over the offense and how there’s hype surrounding it I forgot to mention cornerback Brandon Carr and the comments he made during the off-season. Carr came out and said it’s basically time for him to come out and dominate the league. Let that sink for a second… Dominate the league he says. DOMINTAE THE LEAGUE. The same guy who allowed Calvin Johnson to break a single game record and who got burnt by damn near every receiver has the audacity to come out and say it’s time for him to dominate the league, wow. Just wow. But in all honesty I can’t blame him for those comments.

Carr needs to dominate every receiver that steps opposite of him if the Cowboys want to improve defensively. Carr needs to become one of, if not the vocal leader of the Cowboy’s defensive unit now that Ware is gone and Sean Lee is out for the season. (Tragic I know.) The Cowboys are paying Carr like a top notch and corner it’s now time that he plays like it. Same could be said for Morris Claiborne as well; its now time for him to play to his potential and stay healthy as well. J.J. Wilcox is another guy in the secondary who should have an impact as well. Last season personal issues and injuries kept him from being consistently good.  If those three guys along with Scandrick and Church perform like we know they can the secondary could be a strong point.

As far as the linebacker and D-line go the Cowboys have way too many question marks. They could be a better group than last season but who knows. Rookie DE, Demarcus Lawrence, is already out for a portion of the season; former Pro Bowl DT, Henry Melton, is just coming back from injury; Anthony Spencer is still a huge IF and Amobi Okoye is still too far off gauge where he’s at. With that being said the only sure thing on the D-line is George Selvie who led the team in sacks this past season. Sure, the Cowboys have a lot of other defensive line on board but none of them are guaranteed to have the same impact on the game as some of the guys mentioned above would. Nevertheless, the D-Line could prove to be a strong point as the season progresses but as of now its deemed as putrid.

Last but not least, well maybe least, we have the linebacker core. When Sean Lee went down so did this group. Guys like Bruce Carter and Justin Durant just aren’t consistent enough to be viewed as good or respectable. This is just a sorry group of linebackers point blank period. But there could be a bright spot. Twice retired linebacker Rolando McClain could prove to be a huge pickup. He was star a few years back in college with Alabama and was still nice upon joining the league as a top pick. He has tremendous upside and could help this defense significantly. ( Might be a nice guy to pair Lee with in the future as well.) Having hit rock bottom last year as a defense, the Cowboys can only improve. It may not be much better, but an improvement is still positive and could bold well.

Looking at the schedule many people thought it would be hard for the Cowboys to reach six wins. Hell someone came out and said they’d go 2-14. I don’t understand why many presume the schedule is extremely hard. Yes the Cowboys play the NFC West and AFC South along with the Bears and Saints I get it but if you really look at it it’s not as hard as last years. (This years schedule http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/schedule/_/name/dal/dallas-cowboys)

 

The 49ers look as vulnerable as ever. Outside of the Colts no one in the AFC South can do any type of damage. The Rams lost Bradford for the year and now they’re in a frenzy. No one in the NFC East really improved outside of Washington, but the question on if RG3 is going to be healthy still remains. In all honesty outside of the Saints, Seahawks, Bears, Colts and maybe the Cardinals no one really jumps out. At best I can see them losing six games. Worst case scenario I see them losing eight. ( I’ll take 9-7 go ahead and chalk it up as my prediction baring injury to Romo.)

Why do I feel so strongly about the Cowboys? This is why.

Last year the Cowboys finished:

  • 14th in Passing
  • 24th in Rushing
  • 16th in Total Offense
  • 27th in stopping the run
  •  30th in stopping the pass
  • 5th in scoring
  • 32nd in Total Defense (worst ever)
  • Finished with a record of 8-8
  • Went 5-1 in division play with Romo missing the sole game they lost. 

Eight and eight with the worst defense in NFL history and the Cowboys still managed to own their division. Incredible. Why can’t they replicate that again this year with a more dynamic offense and slightly improved defense?

After bottoming out at a league low defensively I don’t see any reason on why the Cowboys can’t improve on that end. . If the defense can stay healthy, be resilient, show toughness and play with an edge they could be formidable. Improving the O-line and changing play callers plus expanding the playbook can only enhance the offense and make them more dynamic. If the offense can stick to the run and Murray does his job the Cowboys could very be put in position to scare a few people. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it. The Cowboys have the guys and enough of the power to do so. However the real question is, do they have the mindset or the will to do it? Time and time again they showed us they didn’t but maybe things have changed this time around.

romo-dez

 

Ryan Fort

FMOT: RyanDFort