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More Murray runs, more Cowboys win

IRVING, Texas -- It's time to stop the hysteria regarding how many times DeMarco Murray is carrying the ball this season.

He's on pace to carry the ball a league-record 424 times, which is driving some folks crazy.

They're worried he'll get hurt and be unavailable at some point this season. They're concerned he'll wear down and be ineffective at the end of season. And they're afraid he won't be productive in the future.

Get over it.

Murray is earning $1.4 million this season to carry the football as many times as the Dallas Cowboys choose to give it to him.

And he's doing it better than anyone in the NFL.

Just so you know, Murray and Jim Brown are the only players to start a season with six straight 100-yard rushing games.

At 5-1, these Cowboys are off to a better start than anyone could have imagined, which is why there's zero reason to stop feeding Murray.

These Cowboys, who have missed the playoffs each of the past four seasons, aren't good enough to pick and choose how they win games.

This offense is averaging 27.5 points and 398.7 yards per game.

This is not the time for the Cowboys to change their approach, and there is historical evidence to suggest they shouldn't.

Only Kansas City's Larry Johnson, Atlanta's Jamal Anderson, Los Angeles' Eric Dickerson, Tampa Bay's James Wilder and Tennessee's Eddie George have carried the ball more than 400 times in a season.

All but Wilder carried his team to the playoffs. Anderson and George took their teams to the Super Bowl.

And all of the running backs in the group finished strong.

Johnson's last game of the season featured 33 carries for 138 yards and three touchdowns to secure a wild-card berth for the Chiefs. Anderson finished the season with four straight 100-yard games. And Dickerson gained 158 yards on 26 carries in a playoff loss to Washington.

The 6-foot, 214-pound Murray is a stickler about his body, spending time in the cold tub to erase the soreness and getting regular massages to maintain his flexibility and work the knots out of his muscles.

Yes, Murray missed 11 games over the course of his first three seasons with a variety of ailments. But none of those injuries would be considered chronic, like Miles Austin's hamstring issues.

DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray

#29 RB
Dallas Cowboys

2014 STATS

  • Rush159
  • Yds785

  • TD6

  • Rec21

  • Yds155

  • TD0

Murray broke his ankle in 2011, suffered a high ankle sprain in 2012 and sprained his knee in 2013.

Those are injuries that occur in this violent, physical game. There's no guarantee Murray won't get hurt carrying the ball.

Until this season, he had never averaged more than 16.1 carries per game or had more than 217 carries in a season, so he's not a player with a lot of wear and tear on his body.

In Murray's first three seasons, he carried the ball more than 20 times only 11 times and had just seven 100-yard games.

He has carried the ball 25 times or more three times this season, equaling his total of 25-carry games from his first three seasons. His rushing attempt average this season is 26.5 per game.

That doesn't mean Cowboys coach Jason Garrett isn't going to distribute the ball to other backs.

"The biggest thing is we want to continue to run the ball well," Garrett said. "At the same time, we want to give the other guys some opportunities.

"That's good for the individual guys and getting Joseph [Randle] and Lance [Dunbar] chances, because they've done well. And it keeps DeMarco more fresh over the course of a game and the season, but he's going to carry the ball a lot."

Frankly, the Cowboys seem more concerned about his plays than carries. They would prefer to keep his plays in the low 50s, which provides backups Randle and Dunbar some playing time.

In the fourth quarter Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, Murray gained 53 yards on nine carries and ran through Richard Sherman at the 5 as he tumbled into the end zone.

"If you saw on the touchdown run at the end of the game -- an amazing piece of footage we showed our team -- did you see DeMarco do this flip as the offensive linemen were coming toward him," Garrett said.

"I think that was carry 26, and he'd caught six passes already, and the kind of energy he still had is a tribute to him."

Murray is a free agent at the end of the season, so the Cowboys shouldn't have his future production at the top of their list of concerns.

It's about winning now, which is what Garrett preaches, along with letting the future take care of itself.

This team has been stuck in mediocrity for years. It's time to win, and giving Murray the ball as much as possible is the best way to do it.