Not since 2007 when Marrion Barber had something approaching an OK season have the Cowboys had a shut down back in the fourth quarter. Normally, you hand the ball to that kind of back when you have a lead and you grind out first downs. In this case, The Cowboys wanted to both eat the clock and give Baily a chip shot field goal. And Murray delivered, even when the tough Miami defense knew he was going to run the ball.
I know there are a lot of things that are a concern.
1. Dez being unable to assert himself, despite his immense talent.
2. The defense giving up long drives that result in the other team taking the lead or getting back in the game.
3. Romo throwing passes to Bennett and Bennett's timidity to use his size advantage to fight for position over smaller backs. (He reminds me of the 6'11" power forward who drifts to the three point line.
4. The health of our full back.
Still, you have to love Murray and what he can mean for this team.
More after the jump.
Now This is Romo Friendly
Remember when Jerry Jones said a few years ago he wanted to make the team more Romo friendly? In the meantime, we've had an aging offensive line and no running game. Well, the line still has it's challenges but at least there is hope. And the biggest ray of hope is Murray.
Romo might be the best in the NFL at the delayed draw and the play action pass. The problem for the Cowboys is that they haven't really had a running back who could keep the defense off balance in those situations. Yes, Jones could break for the occasional big play and was a good receiver, but he didn't scare anyone going between the tackles, except Romo, who didn't like looking at long yardage situations on the next down.
What Murray does for Romo is make it possible for him to play conservatively. A lot of people get on Romo for his throwing ill-conceived passes at the wrong time. But what was he going to do. Rely on Tashard Choice or Felix Jones to grind out yardage? I don't think so.
It's no co-incidence that Romo's pass to interception ratio, the two picks in first quarter notwithstanding, have fallen dramatically since Murray started getting lots of carries. Even the two picks in the first quarter have a different effect on Romo than they would have early in the season. Now, he doesn't panic. First, the defense is mostly stout. Second, he knows with Murray he can hand the ball to his running back and keep teams off balance.
If Miles Austen and Fiamatta can return to health, the Cowboy offense has the potential to be lethal. And if this offense can get an early lead, Ryan's defense will be able to pen back their ears and send the dogs after the quarterback, who will be forced to throw. Plus, with Murray able to grind out yardage once the Cowboys have a lead, the other team will feel all the more pressure to dial up the passes.