Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs past Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) in the first quarter of the game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Is Dallas Cowboy DeMarco Murray Injury-Prone?

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) rushes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today we discussed whether the Dallas Cowboys should offer DeMarco Murray a contract extension (Should the Dallas Cowboys Give DeMarco Murray a Contract Extension). It’s a debate that has been going on for some time and will likely continue for some time more. It’s no secret one of the top reasons his distractors dislike him is his propensity to injury.

That’s what we are asking this afternoon, Is DeMarco Murray injury-prone?

The short answer to that is YES. But that’s not really fair and certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. In 2013 DeMarco finished 10th in rushing yards despite missing 2 games. Let’s look at how the 9 players above him finished and what their injury history looks like…

  1. LeSean McCoy, arguably the best RB in the NFL not named Peterson, finished the season with 1607 rushing yards. He carried the ball 97 times more than Murray did and stayed healthy the entire season.  But the three seasons before that McCoy missed at least one game every year.
  2. Matt Forte finished the season with 1339 rushing yards also playing the entire season. Three times in his previous five seasons Forte was able to play in every game, while the two other seasons he missed a total of 5 games.
  3. Jamaal Charles finished third in the NFL collecting 1287 yards. He missed one game in 2013. In his six year career he stayed healthy 2 times (one of those as the lead back).
  4. Alfred Morris finished the season with 1275 yards in only his second season. Despite the extremely heavy workload (335 attempts in 2012 and 276 in 2013) he has never missed a game.
  5. Adrian Peterson came back from a catastrophic knee injury to post 1266 yards in only 14 games. In his seven NFL seasons he played all 16 games three times. He missed time the four other seasons.
  6. Marshawn Lynch stayed healthy all year and picked up 1257 yards along the way. How many times did he play all 16 games in his previous seven seasons? Just once.
  7. Ryan Mathews is next on the list and after seeing he wasn’t on my fantasy football team for the first time, decided to breakout for 1255 yards in only 15 games. He technically played in all games but was only able to carry the ball 3 times in one of them. Before that he never even suited up for more than 14 games in a season.
  8. At #8 Eddie Lacy picked up 1178 yards in his rookie year. He played in all 16 games but only had one carry in week 2. With only one year of NFL experience it’s tough to draw any conclusion with Lacy, but he effectively handled nearly 18 carries per game in the regular season along with another 21 in the playoffs.
  9. Frank Gore rushed for 1128 yards in 2013. He played the entire season at the ripe old age of 30 too. The eight previous seasons with the 49ers Gore was able to play all 16 games in only 3 of them.

Finally we come to DeMarco Murray. DeMarco rushed for 1121 yards on only 217 carries (the least amount of carries of RBs in the top-10). But he missed 2 games in 2013 completing his trend of missing games in all 3 of his NFL seasons. Murray missed a little time in college, but not a disturbing amount by any means. Says Murray,

I really don’t pay too much attention to that. People will say I’m injury prone. I’ve gotten used to it. It’s not like I’ve been hurt every single year where I play four or five games, then miss one or two. I missed two games my junior year and three my freshman year. Five games in four years, not that bad. But like I said, I’m just trying to get better.


What Has This Taught Us?

This proves that DeMarco Murray may indeed be injury-prone but it also shows us virtually all top NFL RBs in the NFL are injury-prone too. It comes with the territory. An NFL RB is more susceptible to injury than your average player.

They are constantly in the line of fire whether they are carrying the ball themselves or pass-blocking a larger/stronger player.

This doesn’t completely absolve Murray either. Murray missed 2 games in 2014, 6 games in 2012, and 3 games in 2011. That’s a bit more fragile than you’d like to see from your lead back. While most top RBs in the NFL miss games, Murray seems to miss more than most.

The 2014 season should tell the tale of DeMarco Murray. Is he the guy who misses 2-3 games a year or the guy who misses closer to 6? There is a BIG difference between the two. Many Cowboys fans are demanding Murray stay healthy in 2014 (or else). That would be fantastic to see, but as history tells us, that’s not a very common thing for a lead back in today’s NFL.

Is DeMarco Murray injury-prone?

Sure…I guess…but so are most RBs. Murray may be a little more fragile than his peers but it’s tough to tell in only three seasons (2 of which he missed only 2-3 games). Earlier today we asked the question, Should the Dallas Cowboys Give DeMarco Murray an Extension? This article hopefully contributed to that conversation. Tomorrow morning we will continue the conversation and address the Salary Cap ramifications and the budget side of things.


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  • SmartThinking

    We’ve also learned that yesterday’s injured running back can also be a 1,000 yards plus rusher with a little help from those five guys up front, two of which currently are tomato cans.

    Who’s to say when to give up on Murray? In the three years he’s been on this team, he’s missed a third or so of the games he’s paid to excel in. Yet, even missing, what, three games, last season, he still went for 1k and a back-handed invite to the Pro Bowl.

    Why last year and not two years ago? What should we realistically expect from him this next season? And when is it time to find someone else?

    I’ve argued long and often that the key to a pro football team’s success, on both offense as well as defense, can be found in a bulldozer front offensive line made up of large, angry men who are smart enough to be taught that finesse begins in the trenches.

    When those five guys pull and push as a synchronized unit, great things happen for running backs and QB’s alike. And, consequently, even when they don’t score, they’ve eaten up so much of the field that they’ve given the other team’s offense terrible field position, making our defensive team not have to play at a disadvantage, like they had to play all of last season.

    There are times when I truly think big Jones and company get it. That’s why the Dallas offense has two number one draft picks. But, that’s out of five.

    Murray did his thing last season. And, frankly, it was a thing of beauty watching him knock guys down. There’s nothing about this game I love so much more thrilling to watch than a rushing touchdown.

    That’s what I like about Murray. He’s not afraid to knock somebody down if they get between him and his objective. Can anyone imagine what great things he might have accomplished if he’d had two or three more really, really good offensive linemen clearing the way for him?