From the moment that DeMarco Murray spurned the offer of the Dallas Cowboys in order to take a much more lucrative deal with the rival Philadelphia Eagles, there has been much criticism of the team for not taking steps to maintain the highly successful running game that was such a major part of the successful 2014 season. The signing of Darren McFadden in free agency was generally looked upon with disdain, given his fairly ineffective career in Oakland. The failure to draft a running back was greeted with a certain level of amazement. Now the Cowboys go into the season depending on McFadden, underwear thief Joseph Randle, often injured Ryan Williams, unproven Lache Seastrunk, and purely change-of-pace back Lance Dunbar.
This has not inspired a great deal of confidence in the Dallas fan base, and it has left the national NFL media completely and totally unimpressed. NFL.com's Marc Sessler set out to rank all 32 running back groups in the league. He placed the Cowboys at 26th overall, even though he claimed he took the strength of offensive lines into account. Murray's departure just trumps all for him.
Arguably, Murray is the single biggest factor in arranging this list, given that the Eagles are ranked number one (a handsomely engraved plaque will no doubt be on display in the team trophy case, since they have so much room there). But it is hard to argue too much with the logic here, since Murray is joined by Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles. And of course, Jason Peters will tell you any day of the week that they have a better offensive line than Dallas. You know, despite that whole Evan Mathis thing. After all, Kelly's culture uber alles approach can overcome anything. Just ask him.
The Eagles are still expected to have a good line for Murray and company to run behind, with the strength at both tackles and center offsetting the issues involved in replacing both guards this year. So if you assume that past production indicates future success, then the ranking for Philly is still understandable. And using the same logic for the Cowboys, where McFadden is the only running back with any statistical record of note, then their position also makes sense.
As Dallas fans read this, and similar pronouncements of gloom about the Cowboys' running game, they surely are thinking exactly what I am.
This is great!
Oh, you didn't have that reaction? Perhaps I should explain by reminding you of a few things you may remember from, oh, about a year ago.
Dallas will have the worst defense in NFL history.
The Cowboys will go 3-13.
Romo's back and Murray's inability to stay healthy will doom the offense, which is the only hope the team has given the known and unalterable fact that the defense will be horrible.
Jerry Jones is a total idiot.
This is going to be Jason Garrett's last season as head coach of the Cowboys.
"@ESPNNFL: NFC East QBs, as ranked by Tim Hasselbeck. pic.twitter.com/cw9N73t0L8" my god, these are the worst ranking I've seen yet.— MaiteSerna (@msernaaaa) July 23, 2014
Remember how all that doom and gloom turned out? The Cowboys went into the season with a major chip on their collective shoulder. And we as fans may have indulged in just a teensy bit of gloating when things turned out far better than anyone, even us, expected.
That is why having some badmouthing going on about the situation at running back in Dallas is a good thing. And while past performance is still no guarantee of future success, this is a new day in Dallas. Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli have something very, very good going on. Essentially all the players have bought into it, and you know that the players are aware of things like this. It has to get under their skin, especially that of the running backs and offensive linemen.
So let the skeptics continue to decry the situation. Let a new Chip or two come to rest on the shoulders of the Star. We will let the process continue. We will see how things play out this fall - when it matters.