First it was Julius Jones and Marion Barber.
Then it was Marion Barber and Felix Jones.
Then it was Felix Jones, Marion Barber with a little bit of Tashard Choice.
Then it was Felix Jones and Tashard Choice and some rookie DeMarco Murray
Then Felix Jones gets injured and it becomes Tashard Choice…for 4 plays, then Demarco Murray.
Then Tashard Choice is released and it becomes DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner
Now Felix Jones is coming back from his injury and its DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones or is it Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray?
And what happens to Phillip Tanner?
The Cowboys running game which was almost nonexistent the first five games of the season has come to life in the last four games. Since rookie DeMarco Murray became the focal point of the running game he has rushed for 601 yards. For the season Murray has 674 yards rushing and is averaging 6.7 yards a carry. He got off to an amazing start as he rushed for a team record 253 yards in a win against the Rams, which included a 91 yard touchdown run. He followed that up with 74 yards against the Eagles and one would have to believe that he would have had well over 100 yards if the Eagles didn’t get a big lead early on the Cowboys. In the last two games, both wins against the Seahawks and Bills Murray has continued to shine as he rushed for over 100 yards in each game. As a team the Cowboys rushed for 424 yards in the first five games. In the last four games the Cowboys as a team have rushed for 705 yards. The Cowboys also went 2-3 with Felix Jones as the primary back in those first five games and since Murray has taken over the Cowboys are 3-1.
Now Felix Jones is ready to return after his ankle injury. The question is will the Cowboys go back to Jones as the starter? Will they stick with Murray as the starter? Does it matter if they are both getting their carries?
In my opinion this is a no brainer. They need to keep feeding DeMarco Murray the ball. With everything he has done in the last four games as the primary runner as well as the offensive line playing better it makes more sense for Murray to be the starter and the primary back. Not only has Murray sparked the running the game, but it has also allowed Tony Romo to be more effective in the passing game. In the first five games while Felix Jones was the starter Romo threw eight touchdown passes and six interceptions. Since DeMarco Murray took over the running game Romo has thrown the same amount of touchdown passes, but has only one interception. That one interception came in the Eagles game when Martellus Bennett tipped a pass into an Eagles defender.
The running game and the passing game go hand in hand. When both are doing well, then they feed off each other and become so much more effective that it’s harder for defenses to prepare. But the Cowboys also have an added component now that Felix Jones is healthy. Jones is not some practice squad running back. He has the ability to be a game changer when healthy and he has shown that a few times since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2008. In the first meeting with the Redskins this season Jones rushed for 115 yards, which included a 40 yard run. Having Jones come off the bench in the correct situations can make the running game better than it has been. Also, Felix Jones is a threat as a kickoff returner which the Cowboys are in desperate need of. Add in Phillip Tanner who seems to be that pounding straight ahead runner that the Cowboys have been looking for. This could be a very nice three headed monster for the Cowboys. It’s up to Coach Jason Garrett to put Jones in the right situations during games. It shouldn’t be a concern that both Murray and Jones get an equal amount of carries. Murray needs to be the guy when it comes to the Cowboys running game. He’s fast, quick, strong and is a good blocker as we as a good receiver coming out of the backfield. Having a healthy Felix Jones coming off the bench just makes the running game better.
Cowboy’s fans should see it as a positive that Felix Jones is coming back. But it’s also understandable that they are concerned that the Cowboys will try to play around with a good thing. It’s kind of like the saying, if it’s not broke don’t try to fix it. DeMarco Murray has become a fan favorite in a short amount of time. He has sparked the Cowboys running game, the Cowboys passing game and of course being 3-1 doesn’t hurt either. Numbers don’t lie and looking at what DeMarco Murray has done for himself and more importantly for the team shows that he needs to stay the primary running back for the Cowboys as they inch closer to first place in the NFC East.
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