The Dallas Cowboys had a familiar formula in most of their wins this year - use a pound-and-ground running game to soften up an opponent, then hit them with an aerial attack. It wasn't quite that simple, but one simple notion for Cowboys play-caller Scott Linehan was to hand the ball to DeMarco Murray.
Today, the Professional Football Writers of America named Murray the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year. The Cowboys running back had a remarkable year, one in which he led the league in rushing yards with 1,845, and tied for the most touchdowns with 13. Murray broke Emmitt Smith's franchise rushing record for a single season which he set in 1995 with 1,773 yards. Murray also carried the ball a franchise-record 392 times and set an NFL record with eight straight 100-yard games to start the season, he finished with 12 100-yard games.
Murray was also a key cog in the passing game, whether it was protecting Tony Romo in the backfield, or slipping out and catching some passes on his own. He caught 57 passes for 416 yards. This helped Murray to a league-leading 2,261 yards from scrimmage.
The other Cowboy to win the same award was Emmitt Smith back in 1993.
Of course, the question now facing the Cowboys is can they re-sign Murray or will he depart in free agency. This is Murray's big chance to cash-in given that the life of an NFL running back can be relatively short. But the big-buck contracts for running backs have dried up recently as teams continually cycle through younger models, or players with less wear-and-tear. Dallas just signed practice squad member Ryan Williams to a two-year deal. Williams looked very good in the pre-season of 2014, and they still have Joseph Randle.