The SportsCrew | Its Time To Stop Doubting Demarco Murray
Demarco Murray Has Proven in 2016/17 That He's An Elite NFL RB
NFL, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, Demarco Murray
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Stromme’s Takes: It’s About Time We Quit Doubting DeMarco Murray

Stromme’s Takes: It’s About Time We Quit Doubting DeMarco Murray

By: Mike Stromme


Ever since the Cowboys picked DeMarco Murray in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft, his career has been full of triumphs and riddled with setbacks. He’s come back from each setback with full force despite the doubt coaching staffs, front offices and football fans have bestowed upon him every step of the way. He’s been doubted his entire career, and still continues to deliver. So the question is, what will it take for DeMarco Murray to finally get the respect he deserves?

DeMarco Murray had a decorated NCAA career. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

DeMarco Murray had a decorated NCAA career. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

His 2011 started on New Years Day in Glendale, Ariz. with his Oklahoma Sooners beating-down on the UConn

Huskies 48-20, Murray runs for 25/93/1 in the victory.

Despite rushing for 282/1,241/15 that season for the 12-2, Big 12 Champion Oklahoma Sooners; he wasn’t a highly-touted prospect coming into the draft. Never mind his career 759/3,685/50 rushing line in four seasons on the big campus in Norman, Oklahoma, draft experts didn’t give Murray much of a thought.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock’s Top Five Running Backs  Top Five Running Backs  going into the 2011 draft:

  1. Mark Ingram, Alabama
  2. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
  3. Mikel LeShoure, Illinois
  4. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
  5. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State


Rotoworld’s Evan Silva’s Top Ten Running Backs going into the 2011 draft:

  1. Mark Ingram, Alabama
  2. Mikel LeShoure, Illinois
  3. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
  4. Roy Helu, Nebraska
  5. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State


Nobody’s faulting anybody from thinking that Mark Ingram was the top running back in the draft. The man was coming off a Heisman Trophy and looked unstoppable under Coach Saban in Alabama. But the other guys? Those “higher upside” running backs? Well as of 2016, five years following that draft, everyone listed about that isn’t named Mark Ingram are out of the league… I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

There were five running backs drafted ahead of DeMarco Murray in 2011:

28) Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

38) Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals

56) Shane Vereen, New England Patriots

57) Mikel LeShoure, Detroit Lions

62) Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins

71) DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys


Dallas selects Murray with their 71st overall selection. He comes to camp as the third running back on the roster, behind Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Murray waited until Week 6 to get his chance to shine following a high-ankle sprain to starter Felix Jones. He took that opportunity and RAN with it to the tune of 25/253/1 in a 34-7 thrashing of the St. Louis Rams. He broke Emmitt Smith’s single-game Cowboy record for rushing yards in his first career start. A running back in the same class as Mark Ingram (a running back that many experts compared to Smith), broke a record held by the all-time rushing champion in his first try. It’s like rain on your wedding day, a free ride after you’ve already paid and the advice that you just couldn’t take. Irony.

Following his domination of the Rams, Murray was the talk of the league, darling of fantasy football and a star in the making. That was until a high-ankle sprain ended his rookie season in Week 13.

Then injuries hampered his sophomore year in 2012. Despite a modest 4.1 YPC, Murray was limited to just 10 games. In half of those games, he saw fewer than 15 carries. A sprained foot held him back from building on a successful rookie campaign as the whispers of doubt in regards to his durability began.

In 2013, he managed to stay healthy for the majority of the season; missing just two games. This was the year Murray cracked the 1,000 yard plateau for the first time in his career. He also scored nine times. The Cowboys were 12-0 in games where they got the ball into Murray’s hands more than 20 times since he arrived in 2011.

Murray excelled in Dallas when called upon. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)

Murray excelled in Dallas when called upon. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)

Dallas Cowboys were coming off four straight seasons without a playoff appearance. The fan-base was clamouring for the offensive play-callers to get the ball into Murray’s hands more (and out of Romo’s hands a little less). After four season, three of which had playoff aspirations end on Sunday Night Football in Week 17, Cowboy fans finally got their wish in 2014.

2014 was DeMarco Murray’s year. The 2014 Offensive Player of the Year lead the league in rushing yards (1,845), rushing touchdowns (13), rushing attempts (392), total yards from scrimmage (2,261) and his Dallas Cowboys won their first division title since 2009. Murray even broke another record of an all-time great running back, Jim Brown’s most consecutive 100 rushing yard games to start a season (he had seven in 1958, Murray had eight in 2014).

With 2014 being the final year of Murray’s rookie deal, the Cowboys let him walk the following offseason, allowing him to become a free agent. Most fans and members of the media gave the majority of the credit to the offensive line blocking for Murray instead of the man himself. With the choice of whether or not to lock-up Dez Bryant or DeMarco Murray, the front office opted for Dez. Murray was on the market.

Shortly after trading a former rushing leader in LeSean McCoy, the Philadelphia Eagles signed another one in DeMarco Murray. A high-stakes troll job that left many Cowboys fans uncomfortable to say the least. Murray was going to be a feature back in a Chip Kelly offense. On paper, it seemed to be a match made in heaven.

Just like many of the Eagles left over from the Andy Reid era (LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson), Murray wasn’t a fit in Chip Kelly’s high-tempo, college-style offense. In Kelly’s offense, Murray was a one-cut down hill runner in an offense that required more of an elusive presence; a round peg in a square hole.

Murray and Kelly never really saw eye-to-eye in Philadelphia (Image from USA Today.)

Murray and Kelly never really saw eye-to-eye in Philadelphia (Image from USA Today.)

In Philly, Murray was frustrated, inept and impatient. He allegedly, grew frustrated with his offensive line, the coaching staff and even reportedly spoke with owner Jeffery Lurie regarding his role on the team following an upset victory over the New England Patriots, a game where he was demoted for Darren Sproles. Things got dark for Murray in Philadelphia. In a late-season primetime game, he was limited to just eight snaps, two rushing attempts, in a lopsided loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Chip Kelly didn’t finish 2015 with the Eagles and Murray was traded to the Tennessee Titans a few months later. The two were major scapegoats among the Philly faithful. The Eagles cut-bait with Murray less than one year after signing him to a five-year, $42 million deal after under-performing in his first season. He was doubted again.

The Eagles traded Murray and their fourth round pick to the Tennessee Titans for their fourth round pick. Essentially, Murray’s worth to the Eagles was the privilege to move-up 13 picks in the fourth round. Even after getting a running back two seasons removed from a rushing title at a bargain-basement price, the Titans seemingly felt uneasy about their investment. They took Alabama running back Derrick Henry in the second round.

With whispers of a 50/50 workload split in Tennessee, any optimism surrounding DeMarco Murray seemed minimal. In just about every running back ranking in fantasy football circles, he was ranked right around the bottom portion of the top 20; mine wasn’t far off either . For yet another time in his career, he was doubted, written off, distrusted and disrespected. Many wondered how Murray would respond.

Through the first seven weeks of 2016, Murray trails only David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliot for the rushing title. His 4.6 YPC are his best since 2014. He’s currently averaging 90.4 rushing yards per game, and is currently on-pace for around 1,400 yards and double-digit touchdowns. I’d say that’s a more than appropriate response.

Ever since New Year’s Day 2011, DeMarco Murray has been undervalued, misused, and doubted. But each time he’s put in a position to succeed, he’s been one of the best at his position. Murray may have been doubted in the past, but I can guarantee that he won’t be doubted again. I’m sure if you were to ask him, he’d tell you the same. It’s officially time the football world stops putting limitations on DeMarco Murray, he’ll prove you wrong… Yet again.



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