Is Murray The Cowboys Secret Weapon?
DALLAS, Texas (105.3 THE FAN) – I want … no, I need, the Dallas Cowboys to win more games this year.
I mean, don’t we all?
After all, the Cowboys haven’t won more than eight regular-season games since 2009 (yes, we are now approaching five years). But after all-time defensive woes last season combined with Dallas losing its best three defensive players from 2013 (Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee), I understand hopes to surpass eight wins in 2014 may not be high.
Enter running back DeMarco Murray.
Surely most Cowboys’ fans have heard the statistic that Dallas is 11-0 in games where Murray carries the ball 20 times or more.
The last time I threw that number out, my co-host, Cory, challenged that number and asked if the Cowboys were winning because Murray got more carries or did Murray simply get more carries to salt away a game they were already dominating.
Sort of a chicken or the egg kind of deal.
Well, I can’t answer the chicken question, but I can answer the Murray one – the Cowboys win games because they give him the ball more.
Trust me, I did the research myself.
Don’t trust me? OK, I’ll elaborate.
In the aforementioned 11 games (where, remember, the Cowboys are 11-0), Dallas won four of those games by three points or fewer, six of those games by five or fewer points and eight of them by 10 or fewer points. The lone outliers were a 34-7 victory over St. Louis in 2011, where Murray ran for a franchise-record 253 yards (so it can certainly be strongly argued he swayed the game) and similar romps over Buffalo in 2011 and St. Louis in 2013.
The rest of these contests were all close.
Of course they were, Dallas excels at finding themselves in close games. What they don’t excel at, however, is winning close games.
The Cowboys are 17-17 in games decided by 10 points or less the last three years (big surprise, they are a .500 team). The key, however, is they are 8-0 in games decided by 10 points or less when Murray gets at least 20 carries.
If numbers aren’t enough to prove how important Murray is, simply look at common sense.
Running the ball saps a lot more of the clock then passes (especially those of the incomplete variety). And more clock used up means less time Dallas’ much-maligned defense has to spend on the field.
Handing Murray the ball at least 20 times each game this year won’t lead to an undefeated season (partly because Murray probably won’t take part in all 16 games – but hey, he did play in a career-high 14 last season), but it will markedly increase the Cowboys’ chances to make their first playoff appearance since 2009.
C’mon Cowboys, give it a shot!
Considering Dallas is in the midst of its third-longest playoff drought in franchise history (yes, only 1960-65 and 1986-90 are longer) – it is probably time to try something new anyway.
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