Philadelphia Eagles starting running back DeMarco Murray doesn’t appear to be getting the respect that he deserves. I first realized this when in a 12 team fantasy draft last week, I managed to get Murray towards the end of round two. This shocked me, was everyone watching the same running back as me on a weekly basis last season? After asking the other players why they avoided Murray, it appeared they were all worried about him taking a step back after a heavy workload and the threat of Ryan Matthews stealing carries.
I don’t think the Eagles gave DeMarco Murray a 5 year $40m contract with $21 million guaranteed to split carries with Ryan Matthews. Matthews is a good player but he’s not as good as Murray and he is yet to prove he can stay healthy. Matthews will give Murray a rest but I would be surprised if he has more than 140 carries all season. I still expect the Eagles to use Murray as a workhorse back and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up with around 1400 yards rushing.
Despite Murray’s obvious talent, many seem to doubt he’s actually that good. Every other week there seems to be a running back calling out Murray for leaving yards on the field last year. This began after Joseph Randle said that Murray ‘left a lot of meat on the bone’ last season. After Emmitt Smith agreed with Joseph Randle’s assessment of Murray, LaDainian Tomlinson has agreed with both of them too. I don’t really understand why Murray has had so many negative comments about him in the media this offseason, if Dallas had resigned him would anyone be making the same criticisms?
Every single running back leaves ‘meat on the bone’ by the way Randle so it’s a pointless statement. There has never been a running back who has never left yards on the field and there never will be. When you carry the ball 392 times in one season, it is inevitable that you will miss some holes or leave some yards on the field. For the most part however, Murray was very efficient last year. This is why Joseph Randle only had 51 carries all season. I don’t think the Cowboys were keeping him on the sideline to keep him fresh for this year considering they reached the NFC Championship Game. Randle was on the sideline because Murray is simply better.
I went back and watched the All-22 on Murray’s first few games last year and came away extremely impressed. Murray is a very smart runner and showed great vision for the most part. Some of his most impressive runs were 5 and 6 yard runs where he made something out of nothing and he rarely danced behind the line of scrimmage. He also looked extremely explosive and showed some impressive speed on some runs. I do think towards the end of the season he began to decline though. Hopefully Chip Kelly’s sport science program can keep him feeling fresh throughout the season.
If Kelly can keep Murray healthy throughout the season and also use Matthews to take some of the workload off him, Murray could have another monster season. The Cowboys have a very good offensive line and they helped Murray last year, I’m not debating that. However, the Eagles also have a very good offensive line as well as one of the best offensive minds in the NFL in Chip Kelly. Losing Evan Mathis does significantly hurt the Eagles offensive line but as long as they have Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson they will always be one of the best in the NFL.
I think there are people out there who still doubt Murray’s ability and think last year may have been a fluke. Don’t underestimate how talented he is and how difficult it is to do what he did last year. There are very few who could withstand the workload that Murray had last year and continue to produce on a weekly basis. Whilst he may not repeat the outrageous stat line of 1845 yards and 13 touchdowns, he could still have a very good season.
Don’t think Murray is a one year wonder either, in 2013 he had 1121 yards at an average of 5.2 yards per carry with 9 touchdowns. Murray also averaged 5.5 yards per carry on 164 carries during his rookie season. Health has been the main thing holding back Murray and he showed last year that he can stay healthy for an entire year and be a workhorse back for a team.
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