The Dallas Cowboys have had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL for over three seasons, and the success running backs have had behind that offensive line has led some to erroneously believe anyone can run behind the Cowboys line with success. Even though the Cowboys offensive line doesn’t affect the team’s NFL betting, it is still interesting that a lot of people believe anyone can be successful running with that line.
In 2014, DeMarco Murray rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns behind that line, making him the league leader in rushing yards. A year after, he left the Cowboys for the Philadelphia Eagles, who paid him closer to what he felt he was worth than the Cowboys did.
In Philadelphia, Murray had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career, which led to people saying he wasn’t a very good running back without the holes the Dallas Cowboys offensive line opened up for him.
Murray’s replacement in Dallas was oft-injured running back Darren McFadden, who many thought was done as a starter in the league. However, McFadden was able to rush for 1,089 yards while splitting carries, which again brought up the idea that it was the offensive line that made him successful.
This is where things get interesting, if the Cowboys were so confident that anyone could run behind their offensive line, why did they feel the need to draft another running back instead of sticking with McFadden again?
The answer is quite simple: simply because a player rushes for a thousand yards, it doesn’t make them a great or effective running back. In McFadden’s case, the yardage didn’t translate to much success because the team finished a dismal 4-12.
The injury to Tony Romo had something to do with the team’s lack of success last year, but McFadden also contributed in his own way. Despite going over one thousand yards, McFadden wasn’t very effective when it came to scoring. He finished the season with three touchdowns in the 10 starts he had last year, which wasn’t good enough to help the team win games.
Fast forward to this season, the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth pick in the draft in what might be the best pick they have made in a long time.
Because of his success at Ohio State, selecting Elliott was a no-brainer and it has been paying dividends for the Cowboys this season.
Elliott has 703 rushing yards through the first six games, and is currently leading the NFL in rushing yardage. He also has five touchdowns in the six games, which is almost double McFadden’s output last year.
Elliott has been so good that he requires a lot of attention from defenses, which has opened up the passing game for fellow rookie Dak Prescott, who has been filling in for an injured Tony Romo.
DeMarco Murray, who was criticized for not being the same runner without the Cowboys offensive line, was traded to Tennessee in the offseason and is doing very well over there.
Murray has 633 yards this season, and is third in the NFL in rushing, which means he doesn’t need the Cowboys line to be successful, he just needs to be in a system that he fits in, which didn’t happen in Philadelphia.