- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- In 2004, the Cowboys finished a disappointing 6-10, but many thought they had found the team’s next great running back in Julius Jones.
Jones missed most of the early part of the season with a broken shoulder but returned for the final seven games and took off. He finished with 803 yards on 192 carries. He had three straight games with at least 30 carries against Baltimore, Chicago and Seattle, displaying durability and toughness. He finished the year strong with 149 yards on 29 carries at the New York Giants.
In 2011, the Cowboys finished 8-8 but many believe the Cowboys have their next great running back in DeMarco Murray.
Before a fractured ankle ended his season in the first half against the New York Giants, Murray had a seven-game run that was similar to Jones’. From Oct. 23 vs. St. Louis through Dec. 4 at Arizona, Murray ran 134 times for 799 yards.
He set the franchise mark for rushing yards in a game with 253 against the Rams. He had two other games with more than 130 yards. He displayed toughness and durability in wins at Washington and against Miami.
In 2004, the average rank of the run defenses faced by Jones was 16.5. In 2011, the average rank of the run defenses faced by Murray was 16.5.
Maybe Murray is the Cowboys’ next great back, but just about everybody thought the same of Jones unless they want to get into some Roger Clemens’ “misremembering.” Jones had one 1,000-yard season but was never as good as he was during that seven-game run as a rookie.
Murray helped change the Cowboys’ season in 2011 before getting hurt, but Jones stands as a cautionary tale of too much hype too soon.