Cowboys good enough with what they have at running back?
If Jerry Jones keeps telling the truth before the NFL draft, I’ll have to rethink everything. The man insisted that selecting a running back wasn’t a "must" for the Dallas Cowboys … and he backed it up with his actions.
The Cowboys feel good enough about their non-descript stable of backs that they were poaching a (swing) offensive tackle in the third round. They passed on Miami’s Duke Johnson and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman in the second round in favor of troubled Nebraska pass-rusher Randy Gregory.
This organization is acting as if losing the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year to a hated rival isn’t all that notable. On the surface, replacing Murray with the oft-injured Darren McFadden is a serious downgrade. But the Cowboys also have Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams on the roster. Jones believes some combination of these backs should put up big numbers behind an elite offensive line.
I’m not so sure that will be the case. Quarterback Tony Romo had a tremendous season in part because he could lean heavily on Murray. He no longer had the tendency to check out of called running plays. Without Murray in the backfield with him, I wonder if Romo will return to some of the hero ball that got him in trouble at times.
The Cowboys had a pretty decent imitation of The Triplets going with Dez Bryant, Romo and Murray. Even Bryant admitted that Murray was the key to last season’s success on offense.
I think the Cowboys’ offensive line is truly one of the best in the league. But that doesn’t mean I trust Randle. There’s no reason to believe he’s turned the corner after two embarrassing incidents.
The Cowboys don’t put a lot of value in a position that was an enormous strength last season. Perhaps they’ve looked at the Patriots and seen how that team seemingly changed tailbacks each month of the season.
Of course, the Seahawks have flourished with Marshawn Lynch as their feature back. There’s no exact blueprint for this, but the Cowboys had something working pretty well.
Now, they will roll the dice with lesser talent at running back. That approach rarely worked with Felix Jones and Marion Barber. But those players didn’t have an elite offensive line.
Maybe the plug-and-play model will work behind this line. It’s going to have to since Murray’s gone and Adrian Peterson is trapped in Minnesota.
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