Big Decision: DeMarco Murray must carry Cowboys' load
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Since the day he learned tight end Jason Witten had a lacerated spleen, Jason Garrett has had three weeks to formulate Plan B.
|Cowboys optimism and pessimism square off as Ben and Skin discuss eight reasons why the Cowboys will be good countered by five reasons they won't. |
No Witten means Garrett will be without a significant chunk of his playbook.
Garrett loves formations with two tight ends because of the balance it gives an offensive formation since it eliminates the weakside on running plays.
The Cowboys were in formations with at least two tight ends on 346 of 1,017 plays (35 percent), according to Stats LLC. Garrett used a two tight end formation 320 times. Only San Francisco (348) and Houston (325) used it more.
We all know Garrett’s not going to use John Phillips and James Hanna on the field that much Wednesday against the Giants.
Witten caught 79 passes for 942 yards with five touchdowns last season, and provides Tony Romo with the security blanket every quarterbacks wants and needs to have.
So does Garrett trust third receiver Kevin Ogletree, who averaged 17 plays a game in 2011, enough after a good training camp to put him on the field with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant for 45 or 50 plays?
Or does he spend the bulk of the game in a traditional two receiver, two running back formation and let fullback Lawrence Vickers and running back DeMarco Murray be the focal point of the offense.
My guess? Garrett will put the ball in the hands of Murray.
After all, he had more than 20 carries in five of the eight games he was the primary ball-carrier, and delivered three games with more than 130 yards. A strong performance by Murray would allow the Cowboys to keep Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense off the field and slow down New York’s vaunted pass rush.
There will be other opportunities for Witten to show us why he’s among the game’s best tight ends, but this isn’t one of them.
Besides, the Cowboys are 5-0, when Murray gets at least 20 carries.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss this week's minicamp and Dez Bryant. Claiborne will join the show to discuss the latest Cowboys news all season.
Play Podcast Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit and you won't believe who he says is the Cowboys' best player.
Play Podcast Cowboys wide receivers coach Derek Dooley joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to talk about Dez Bryant's talent and potential.
Play Podcast Glenn "Stretch" Smith and Matt Mosley talk about their time at Day 2 of Cowboys minicamp and discuss Monte Kiffin's defensive principles and his growing relationship with the players.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL insider John Clayton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Cowboys and Tony Romo missing OTAs.
Play Podcast ESPN senior NFL analyst Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss another busy week for the Cowboys at Valley Ranch.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss how Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and others spend lots of time with their receivers and if it matters that Tony Romo is not participating in OTAs.
Play Podcast Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he's looking for during the third session of OTAs, a potential Sean Lee contract extension and why people underestimate Miles Austin's value.