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?
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
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