Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Thursday, June 5, 2014
Cowboys chat recap: It's Murray's job

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- We held a chat for about an hour on Wednesday in which we touched on a number of subjects related to the Dallas Cowboys:

** Morris Claiborne’s ability to be the player the Cowboys thought

** The potential of a top-five pick in 2015

** Signing Dez Bryant or Tyron Smith first

** How J.J. Wilcox has looked so far in the OTAs.

For the full chat, click here.

But there was one question that I’d like to expand upon:
Kyle Jones (Cedar Park, TX): The Cowboys have a much higher winning percentage when Murray runs the ball 20 or more times. I read where (Scott) Linehan sees (Lance) Dunbar as a Reggie Bush type back that can make explosive plays. With the addition of (Ryan) Williams to the backfield, how do you see the touches being spread out?

Todd Archer: This will be (DeMarco) Murray's team. He will get the bulk of the work. I'm not ready to pencil Williams in for anything because of his injury history. Dunbar will get third-down tries, but Murray should see a career high in carries this year. He had 217 last year and missed a couple of games. I'd put him at 250 this year.

I was asked about the running backs a few times in the chat, and the early word that Dunbar is looking good has a lot of people excited. It should. He can be a good change of pace back. But he will not sniff anywhere near the touches Murray will get.

Let’s say there are 60 snaps a game on offense. Murray will be on the field for 50 of them. He is a good pass-catcher. He is good at picking up blitzers. He’s obviously a talented runner. To me, Dunbar is a niche back. He’s not big enough to handle the play-to-play pounding. He’s not yet shown he can stay healthy for a season.

Now, Murray has to make it through a 16-game season as well. But when he’s played, the Cowboys have been a different team. Teams need multiple running backs to get through a season, but I think people need to understand that Murray will be the guy and the division of labor will not be some sort of even thing.

Linehan was asked about his philosophy when it comes to using multiple backs:

“You’ve got to have depth at the running back position,” Linehan said. “DeMarco is great. Love to see him have the best year of his career. We all would and he’s going to, in my opinion. But to do that, that’s a long grueling season. There’s got to be other guys step in like we have here and do the job. People call it the committee thing. I don’t know what that means, but I think all the good teams, all the good offenses have more than one back. Maybe two, maybe three that can go in and get you significant production from the running back position. It’s nice to have that go-to guy. I feel that we have a great gone, and I feel the guys that are in their roles as No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, however that shakes out, all have some things they can bring to the table for us.”