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Anyone Can Run Behind This Offensive Line

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Anyone Can Run Behind This Offensive Line 4

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.

Cowboys Blog - Anyone Can Run Behind This Offensive Line

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.

Cowboys Blog - Anyone Can Run Behind This Offensive Line 1

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.

2014 2015 Difference
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.

Cowboys Blog - Anyone Can Run Behind This Offensive Line 2

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?

Cowboys Blog - Anyone Can Run Behind This Offensive Line 3

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?


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

What are your thoughts on Darren McFadden and the Offensive Line? Tell me! Comment below, Email me at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Anyone Can Run Behind This Offensive Line" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!


I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Dallas Cowboys Optimistic that Amari Cooper Returns Sunday

John Williams

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Report: Amari Cooper has MRI on Right Ankle

It doesn't take a deep look at the Dallas Cowboys offense over the last year and not see the significant impact that Amari Cooper has had. He's been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL over the last calendar year and has opened up so much for the Cowboys offense both with his impact as a pass catcher and for the attention he draws from opposing defenses. In Cooper's last 15 regular-season games with the Dallas Cowboys, he's caught 86 passes on 121 targets for 1,240, and 11 touchdowns. He's been everything the Cowboys front office could have hoped for when they made the trade with the Oakland Raiders after week seven of the 2018 season.

Amari Cooper has been dealing with foot issues since training camp and then went out on the first offensive series against the New York Jets with a thigh contusion. His absence was definitely felt as the offense struggled to find any rhythm in the first half of their week six loss.

Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win 3

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper

Though he hasn't practiced this week there is some optimism that Cooper could potentially practice on Friday and play in this pivotal week seven matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. A contusion is basically a bone bruise, which is painful and can inhibit movement and flexibility. The most important thing to judge when determining if Cooper will be able to play or not is the level of inflammation that still persists in this leg. If the inflammation is better and he has better movement and flexibility in the leg, then he should be able to go.


Amari Cooper had a field day against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 14 of the 2018 season when he caught 10 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Even in the week 10 contest, Cooper caught six passes for 75 yards. He's had a ton of success against the Eagles and with them still having injury issues in the secondary, there's a possibility for him to have another big game this week if he's able to play.

It's an encouraging sign that he's going to try practice today given the concern during the game in the days just after the week six contest. We'll have to keep an eye on how Friday goes and the pregame reports, but if all goes well, the Cowboys offense will be in much better shape with Cooper back on the field.


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Dallas Cowboys Sign DT Justin Hamilton to 53-Man Roster

Jess Haynie

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Justin Hamilton

After placing Tyrone Crawford on injured reserve Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys signed Defensive Tackle Justin Hamilton yesterday to fill the roster spot. Hamilton was most recently with the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason but did not make it past final cuts.

List at 6'2" and 315 lbs., Hamilton brings a big body to the defensive line. The Cowboys have had issues with their run defense lately, particularly two weeks ago against Aaron Jones and the Green Bay Packers, so this signing indicates a desire for more size in the trenches.

Some fans are disappointed that Dallas didn't call up preseason darling Daniel Wise from the practice squad, but Wise is another smallish defensive linemen in the same mold as Crawford and others already on the roster.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett said the Cowboys worked out DT Justin Hamilton a couple weeks ago, felt like he was the best fit to take Tyrone Crawford's spot on the 53. Crawford moving to IR.

Calvin Watkins on Twitter

Justin Hamilton has been signed to the Cowboys active roster. Jason Garrett said the team likes his size.

The Cowboys ran into issues recently when starting DT Antwaun Woods was missing time with injury. Neither Maliek Collins or Chris Covington was able to adequately replace his role as the anchor up front, taking up space and denying run lanes.


Justin Hamilton hasn't had a ton of NFL playing experience for has been around since 2015, when he went undrafted and was signed by the Buffalo Bills. Since then he's bounced between rosters and practice squad with five different teams, appearing in just eight games only one of those as a starter.

The Cowboys must have felt the need for more beef at defensive tackle. Hopefully, they also see some potential in Hamilton that other teams haven't yet unlocked.

Antwaun Woods is the latest example of Dallas being able to find diamonds in the rough. Woods also went undrafted a few years back and spent a couple of years in Tennessee before the Cowboys finally got ah old of him. Now Antwaun is arguably their best defensive tackle.

Will Justin Hamilton find similar success with his new team?  We certainly hope so!


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REPORT: Tyrone Crawford Having Season-Ending Surgery, Headed to IR

Brian Martin

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Tyrone Crawford

And the hits keep coming. Defensive Tackle/Defensive End Tyrone Crawford will have season-ending hip surgery and is expected to be placed on the Injured Reserve.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford is being placed on injured reserve. He has been dealing with a hip injury since last season. He was held out of training camp because of it and has struggled to play through it this season

Tyrone Crawford is yet another player on a long list for the Dallas Cowboys who have recently succumbed to the injury bug. With the bye week still a week away and the Philadelphia Eagles up next on the schedule, all of these injuries are happening at the most inopportune time.

All of these injuries put the Dallas Cowboys in a tough position this week against the Eagles.  The NFC East division hangs in the balance and you can bet the absence of Tyrone Crawford will have an impact on the game one way or another. That's the short term though. How Crawford's injury impacts the Cowboys long-term has yet to be determined.


Replacing someone with the versatility to play either DT or DE won't be easy for Rod Marinelli and the Cowboys defense. His versatility has been invaluable over the years, which makes it all that much harder to find a replacement.

Luckily, the Cowboys had the foresight to try to address the DL this offseason. They added DT Christian Covington through free agency, drafted DT Trysten Hill, and even brought in a few undrafted free agents who showed promise in preseason. Someone out of this group will have to step up, but who?


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