Decisions at Running Back – What If…?


After reading Specific’s outstanding article this morning I’m convinced that if our Cowboys are going to use the running back by committee approach as they have in recent years, we really need to know who our committee’s going to be. And. God Forbid, what if…?

Since I’m not a statistics guru like some of those on BTB, I tend to look at the human element involved in team building rather than the purely analytical approach to determining my Cowboy’s Team for 2011. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m a student of people and rely on what I know about them (or hear from them) to try to outguess them by making informed guesses as to what they are liable to do in certain situations and under certain conditions. I call it "The What if Game".

I’m playing against Jason Garrett every time I write my 53-man roster. I want to be correct on all my choices so I can brag that I was the first on BTB to guess the roster of my 2011 ‘Boys. Thus, I become a Football God in my own mind…at least for this year. Isn’t that what we’re all doing? Before we start playing the game, let’s establish the ground rules.

There are only a couple rules to this game. We’re only going to be determining our Running Backs as of present time; when ever that might be according to when you post. We can’t consider any Free Agents or players on other teams because they aren’t available to us now. No use (meaning cut/paste) of professional scouting reports is permitted (if you solely rely on them at this point, you aren’t paying attention). Since there’s been allot of speculation about a possible trade of Choice, trades can be considered as long as said trade can be connected to a team in need of a running back and have either a player(s) and/or future draft pick(s) we covet/need (be realistic, please. We aren’t going to trade Choice for Samuels). Since two of our Backs are presently injured, you may place players on the IR, PUP or make an injury settlement and cut them if you choose.

I’m going to begin my game now and y’all are encouraged to read along as I try to outfox Jason Garrett at "The What if Game". Hmmmmm, what will Garrett do? Not what will you do if you’re the coach/GM, you aren’t and never will be….

Tanner – I’ve heard his name mentioned a few times by coaches so he’s been recognized for making some plays in Camp or having recognizable potential. While reading the Scrimmage Thread of both BTB and ESPN and watching highlight film from the scrimmage, I seriously doubt Tanner will make the 53-man roster. He’s a non-factor in the game.

Murray – He’s been on the sidelines doing rehab since injuring his hamstring while trying to get in condition for Training Camp. I’ve taken the time to watch his college highlight film and did see him a couple times during his college career. He reminds me of Eric Dickerson in that he’s fluid and tends to run upright. From what I saw, he’s got some power. I’d classify him as a one-cut back who exhibits great vision having average speed.

Miller – Miller is a one-year player who spent most of last year on the Practice Squad after being a pleasant surprise during preseason last year. The reason I heard Miller was placed on the Practice Squad was not due to any physical inability, but due to immaturity and inability to absorb information concerning assignments. He was moved to the 53 man roster for the last two games. He was the only Running Back to participate in the player-led OTAs this suckage season. He’s the largest back on the roster. He’s performed well in practices and the blue-white scrimmage having scored two touchdowns. He appears to be a one-cut runner with above average speed. He showed in the scrimmage and during preseason last year that he has the ability to run between the tackles and turn the corner. Coaches have indicated that Miller can and will play on Special Teams if he makes the roster. He’s also my Pet Cat (full disclosure)

Choice – His production has steadily decreased over the past two years as evidenced by his declining YPC. Remember, I don’t do freakin statistics so no numbers will be provided. My opinion is that his declining production is due to an increased propensity to bounce his runs outside and he lacks the speed to turn the corner. Choice plays at a low pad height and is best between the tackles. He’s a downhill runner but appears to lack vision. His speed is adequate but nothing special. He doesn’t play Special Teams well enough for JoeD, which has limited his playing time during his career. He’s on his last year of a 4-year contract which will make him a free agent after this year. He’s too good to stay in Dallas because he could start on some teams now. Trade rumors have recently linked him to Denver and Tennessee.

Now you know what I think I know.

Situation Summary – We’re 12 days into Training Camp and still haven’t played our first of four Preseason Games. Choice and Murray have not practiced so their abilities can’t be adequately judged. I do think I know what Choice brings to the table from seeing him play in the NFL and my opinion is he’s pretty good. Miller’s been on the Coaches lips since the beginning of Training Camp. He’s been praised by Coach Garrett for his maturation, improved understanding of the offence and better, quicker decision making. Nothing from the coaches about Tanner, so he’s probably just a camp body and his best hope is to make the Practice Squad.


Here’s what I’ve decided Garrett might do after considering all the above, taking into account those darned WHAT IF’s:

1. Jones – this is obvious and only people who frequent DC. Com doubts he’ll be the starter unless he suffers injury. Please Baby Jesus; forgive me for even mentioning the injury word.

2. Choice – although he’s injured right now, I know what he’s done in the past. He’s run well when given the opportunity and when he runs between the tackles. He knows the offense. Basically, he’s a known commodity. He’d be more valuable if he played Special Team well but as my number two, I can let that slide a little.

3. Miller – He’s been on the practice squad for a year and has shown definitive improvement in his decision making and maturation. He’s been the best back at Camp not named Felix. I’ve actually seen him this year. He’s big and fast enough to be my short yardage back that I need.

4. Murray – That’s right, I keep him too. He’s a freakin 3rd round draft pick for Christ’s sake. If he doesn’t start practicing very soon, I’d classify him as pup, keep him there for the first six weeks of the season, and activate him then. In the mean time, he’s attending meetings and such. He’s a rookie, so I don’t trust him. That’s why he’s behind Miller and I have options with him.

You’ll have to tune in next week to see how I’m able to keep all 4 backs.

To play the game, give your lineup and reasons for how you think Coach Garrett came to his decision. Thanks for playing.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.