It’s been almost a year since the reigning Rushing Champion and Offensive Player of the Year, DeMarco Murray, took his talents to the City of Brotherly Love.
In last year’s NFL Draft it was widespread general common sense that the Dallas Cowboys would find their replacement for Murray… only for them to leave the war room with no new Running Backs.
The Cowboys opted to entrust the keys to their all-pro Offensive Line-shaped Corvette to the shared backfield of Joseph Randle and free-agent-signee Darren McFadden. All offseason long fans near and far speculated as to which one of these dudes was going to be featured more prominently throughout the 2015 season.
The glass slipper seemed to fit the foot of Joseph Randle as he was put in the driver’s seat first. Randle squandered that opportunity pretty quickly as he was released by the team not even two months into the season.
Despite a ton of rumors that Christine Michael (who the Cowboys acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks in the eleventh hour of the preseason) would step in as the lead ballcarrier, Darren McFadden was finally given a significant amount of work during a Week 7 game on October 25th in New York against the Giants after being used sparingly up to that point.
For time’s sake I’m going to refer to the time in the season from the Giants game on as Post-DMC. Got it? Good.
A poetic 29 carries for 152 yards and a touchdown against the Giants that day was where Darren McFadden began his 2015 journey that would find him finishing:
- 4th in Rushing Yards with 1,089 (960 of those, or 88.2%, came Post-DMC)
- 8th in Rushing Attempts with 239 (202, or 85%, of McFadden’s attempts came Post-DMC)
- 10th in Rushing Yards Per Game with a credited 68.1 (McFadden averaged 87.3 Post-DMC which would actually be good enough for third behind only Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin)
- 9th in Yards From Scrimmage with 1,417 (1,186, or 83.7%, came Post-DMC & McFadden is the fourth Running Back on this list behind only Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, and Devonta Freeman)
- 6th in Touches with 280 (231, or 82.5%, came Post-DMC)
That sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? Here are McFadden’s numbers from his 2014 season in Oakland where he played all 16 games versus his Post-DMC numbers over 11 games in Dallas this past season.
|Rushing Yards||534||960||426 – 79.78% increase|
|Rushing Attempts||155||202||47 – 30.32% increase|
|Rushing Yards/Game||33.4||87.3||53.9 – 161.38% increase|
|Yards From Scrimmage||746||1,186||440 – 58.98% increase|
|Touches||192||231||39 – 20.31% increase|
Let’s put that in perspective.
With 20.31% more touches, specifically 30.32% more carries, Darren McFadden had 58.98% more yards from scrimmage, 79.78% more rushing yards, and 161.38% more rushing yards per game.
Well look at that.
He was on the Cowboys this year! They were so much better than that terrible Raiders team!
The 2015 Dallas Cowboys went 4-12… the 2014 Oakland Raiders went 3-13. So it’s not like DMC’s team was on fire either year here.
Also, remember all of that “Post-DMC” stuff from earlier? In the “Post-DMC” time McFadden played just a little over a game and a half with Tony Romo under center and only seven games with Dez Bryant as a receiving threat. Defenses knew McFadden was getting the ball and he still delivered.
Not to mention that the 2014 Raiders had the 31st offense in the NFL according to Pro Football Reference. That same site graded the 2015 Dallas Cowboys as having the 31st offense in the NFL. Weird, isn’t it?
All of this fact and data can only mean one thing.
Anyone can run behind this offensive line.
As soon as Darren McFadden stepped into the featured back role in Dallas he blossomed – the numbers back that up.
What was once a joke, point of pride, and viral internet meme came to fruition for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. Behind the services of Tyron Smith, the newly acquired La’el Collins, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free… any average Running Back can munch all of the meat off of the proverbial bone.
There are Darren McFadden truthers out there who might point to his absurd increase in production as a testament to his own skill and valor. I’m not at all denying that Darren McFadden is a fine ballcarrier who can contribute significantly to a football team… but let’s call a spade a spade here. Darren McFadden isn’t anything fancy.
In fact at this point Darren McFadden probably has less overall talent than the guy that he replaced – DeMarco Murray. Yet, thanks to whatever excuse Eagles fans are using today, DeMarco’s numbers dropped off significantly in 2015. Why is that? He’s driving a station wagon and McFadden is rolling around in this Corvette.
The Dallas Cowboys absolutely need to address the Running Back position, while retaining Darren McFadden, throughout the offseason. They can’t start drinking the Kool-Aid that I just poured for you… too much of the upcoming season centers around their ability to run the ball and it being a strength for them.
What they can do is rest easy that this offensive line is absurdly talented and know that, despite a 4-12 season when everything felt like it was broken and falling apart, this part of the team is very well intact.
Who wants to drive the Corvette next?