OXNARD, Calif. -- Head coach Jason Garrett doesn’t like comparing players, and he’s also hesitant to compare what one player has done from one season to the next.
That’s his take on holding DeMarco Murray to the high standards he set during his first handful of games as the Cowboys’ feature back, when he inspired comparisons to Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett by bursting on the scene with a franchise-record 253-yard game and another pair of 100-plus-yard performances over the next few weeks.
“I think it’s really important to come to work every day and try to do your best and get better, improve in all areas and get yourself physically and mentally prepared to be your best and not worry about what you’ve done in the past, either good or bad,” Garrett said. “We talk to our players about that. When you come off a season like he’s had, I think it’s particularly important to do that.
“Get himself healthy, come to work every day and just become a better football player.”
Garrett compared it to a college kid coming off a huge freshman season who has a so-called sophomore slump when his production dips a bit.
“Well, the conditions might have changed,” Garrett said.
Yeah, but here’s the thing for Murray. His conditions should be changing for the better. If that isn’t the case, Garrett and the front office made poor personnel decisions by signing fullback Lawrence Vickers and guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau.
It isn’t realistic to expect Murray -- or any back, for that matter -- to go for 253 yards in a game again. However, there’s no reason a healthy Murray shouldn’t be able to far surpass the 897 yards and two touchdowns he rushed for in 13 games as a rookie.
The good news for Garrett: External expectations are completely irrelevant to the Cowboys’ featured back.
Said Murray, “No one sets the bar higher than me.”