By now, we've heard all the mea culpas as well as the I-told-you-so's. You may or may not have expected it, but if you follow the Cowboys you've been awestruck and impressed by their third-round pick; a player some might consider the steal of the draft. Dallas Cowboys rookie runner DeMarco Murray has impressed any and all onlookers since becoming a part of the team's regular offensive player rotation in Week Seven against the St. Louis Rams. Six weeks later, he's been named as the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month for November.
In his first game where he received greater than 50% of the team's snaps (he wouldn't start a game until the following week), Murray exploded onto the national scene to the tune of 253 rushing yards on St. Louis; ninth-best in the storied history of the league. While he hasn't been able to duplicate those numbers (and nobody would expect him to), he has continued to keep his legs churning and powering through and around defenders.
While it's true the third rounders' numbers have come back down into this stratosphere, his effort and ability continue to shine. In the Cowboys four game winning streak, DeMarco has amassed over 20 carries in each of the victories. He's averaged almost 4.9 yards per carry over the stretch. The first two games were comfortable wins; the last two, last-second, come from behind thrillers. On Thanksgiving against Miami, 14 of Murray's 22 carries came with the Cowboys trailing. That includes the final five "real" plays of the game-winning drive where Murray ran against a stacked Miami defense intent on keeping the Cowboys in long-distance field goal range. Murray turned it into a chip shot for fellow rookie Dan Bailey. Bailey would boot his fourth game-winning field goal of the season.
For the year, Murray ranks fifth amongst all backs in Football Outsiders' DYAR stat with 157. This advanced metric measures how many more yards a player has gained than an average-level replacement player would against the same defenses. This, on only 147 carries. His FO success rate of 57% (a 'success' is gaining 40% of necessary yardage on first down, 60% on second down and 100% on third and fourth downs) ranks second in the league; only trailing New Orleans' first-round rookie Mark Ingram's 58%.
Here's a look at Murray's individual game stats for the month.
|Opponent||Snaps||Attempts||Yards||YPC ||Yards After Contact||Touchdowns|
Note that in three of the four games, over half of Murray's yardage totals have come after first contact. As Dave pointed out here, Murray's yards-per-carry average has suffered the last two games without fullback Tony Fiammetta. Dallas has chosen to go with TE John Phillips as the lead blocker in Fiammetta's absence with putrid results. The club promoted rookie Shaun Chapas to the 53-man roster in hopes of paving a better path for Murray to continue reaching the defenses second and third levels.
Murray is only the second Cowboys player to win Offensive Rookie of the Month and just the fourth Cowboys rookie overall to be honored with a monthly award.
Julius Jones was named Offensive Rookie of the Month for November 2004. Dexter Coakley won the defensive honor in October 1997 and DeMarcus Ware won it in October 2005.