Nov 9, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is interviewed by Fox Sports sideline reporter Tony Siragusa after the NFL International Series game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Jaguars 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
DeMarco Murray may be having the career year, and even legitimately in the discussion for NFL MVP, but is really even the MVP of his own team?
Before we go any further, let it be said this is not a DeMarco Murray bash piece nor is it Tony Romo fluff piece. It’s simply taking a look at who is truly the most valuable (and most irreplaceable) player on the Cowboys’ roster.
If Brandon Weeden taught us anything it’s that the delta between the Cowboys’ starting QB and the backup QB is about as wide as Kim Kardashian’s …well, you know. Brandon Weeden was so bad it is almost indescribable.
Weeden may be good at playing catch with a stationary target (operative word is “may”) but he proved to be worthless when negotiating a moving player. Unfortunately throwing the ball to moving players is an important element of an NFL QB’s job description.
For as much as I was really hoping Brandon Weeden would work out as a better-than-average backup, he proved he’s not even moderately capable.
Now let’s look at the RB situation…
Behind DeMarco Murray sits Lance Dunbar and Joseph “the underwear burglar” Randle. Both of them are fairly efficient backups but whether they could pick up an injured Murray’s slack or not, remains to be seen. I’m of the vocal minority who actually thinks practice squader, Ryan Williams, may be a better backup than either Dunbar or Randle. But I digress…
Nov 9, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle (21) scores on a 40-yard touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
We have been able to see Murray’s backups contribute sparingly over the first 10 games of the season. Randle doesn’t have the speed or tackle breaking ability Murray has but he does know how to hit a hole and get down field. In 29 carries he has collected 201 yards for 6.1 yards per carry average.
Now, anyone watching the game knows that there is clearly a fall-off in talent between Murray and Randle/Dunbar/Williams. You can’t simply replace Murray with either or any combination of these players, and not lose something.
After all, Murray is playing spectacular football.
But so is the offensive line. The offensive line is smart and athletic. They are thriving in Bill Callahan’s zone blocking scheme and are arguably the best run-blocking line in the NFL. Randle may not be able to break those tackles that Murray does on a regular basis, but he can hit a hole and he can make a defense pay.
Back to Romo…
Romo is the part that makes this whole thing run. Romo is the one converting those 3rd downs. He’s making opposing defenses play the Cowboys honestly and respect the pass and run equally – from anywhere on the field.
Rewind to the Arizona game for a moment…
Do you honestly think Romo would have had a problem picking apart the NFL’s worst pass defense in man coverage? Hell no. The Cardinals didn’t respect Weeden and stacked the line to stop the run. Weeden still couldn’t complete a pass.
Nov 9, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback cornerback Dwayne Gratz (27) on a 2-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The moral of the story…
The run game and pass game work together to make this offense successful. And if you read my piece yesterday, they also make the defense work. If the Cowboys lost Romo for the season would you think the Cowboys still had a chance with Weeden leading the team?
Now what about about if they lost Murray? It would hurt but with the way the O-line is playing there would still be hope.
DeMarco Murray deserves all the praise and attention he’s getting. He’s having a spectacular season and is a driving force in the Cowboys’ success this season. But isn’t Tony Romo still the more valuable (and irreplaceable) asset the Cowboys have?
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