Tony Romo is the highest-paid player on the Cowboys roster. He is also considered by many to be the leader on this team. And yes, when the Cowboys fail, the blame is usually placed all on his shoulders. Sometimes it’s fair, sometimes it isn’t. However, Romo isn’t the most important player to the Cowboys success, running back DeMarco Murray is.
When DeMarco Murray is on the field he is productive, and the Cowboys tend to win. When Murray has 20 or more carries in a game, the Cowboys are 8-0. If they get more games like that in the future, Dallas can do something they haven’t done in three years: make the playoffs. The Cowboys realize they need to make more of a commitment to the running game and are already working on it in training camp this season. Last year’s team effort of 1,265 yards was the second least in franchise history, and only Arizona had fewer rushing attempts.
That’s why offensive coordinator Bill Callahan will take over play-calling duties this season instead of head coach Jason Garrett. The move is notable because the Dallas organization felt that Garrett called plays like a quarterback, not a head coach. During his playing days, Jason Garrett was a longtime backup quarterback with the Cowboys, so this more than likely influenced the large number of called passing plays. Callahan has already stated that the team will make a much better effort to run the ball this season.
This is great news for Murray, who in his career averages 4.8 yards a carry, and has four 100-yard performances (including a 253-yard performance his rookie season). More performances like those and Murray could run the Cowboys right to the top of the NFC East. Think about how close they were to making the playoffs the last two seasons before going 0-2 in playoff-clinching season finale games. They basically put themselves into playoff contention without a consistent running game.
A boost in the rushing attack would certainly help Tony Romo. More chances for Murray should equal less turnovers for Romo. He could finally take a good amount of the pressure of off himself and stop some of the chatter that he can’t win the big one.
That’s all just wishful thinking if Murray can’t even stay on the field. In his career he has already missed nine of 32 games, including six starts last year. He wants to be the featured back, and the Cowboys are confident he can be, but he will need to show that he can stay on the field for a full season.
There is no question the Cowboys are a better team when Murray is healthy and getting his fair share of touches. Chances are his touches will be more consistent with Callahan calling the plays. It’s time for Murray to turn the corner in his career and stay on the field. If he can do that, some of the pressure can finally come off of Tony Romo. It just might even help the Cowboys make the playoffs again and save head coach Jason Garrett’s job.
If he can’t it might be another disastrous year in Big D. It might even lead to some serious changes in the organization and its player personnel.
One thing’s for sure, Murray just might be the key piece in controlling what happens this year with the Dallas Cowboys.