The Eagles head to the AT&T Stadium on Sunday Night for DeMarco Murray’s homecoming, a homecoming that is either going to make or break last years rushing champion’s season.
The game was going to draw a lot of attention anyway, it’s one of the toughest rivalries in the NFL and you have one of the leagues most notable names returning to face his old team..who happen to be his current teams bitter rival…what’s not to love?! But this is specifically more important because of what happened in week two.
Former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was stone cold against his former team…how cold is stone cold? Frozen. In 13 carries he managed just two yards. Since then however, Murray seems to have worked out how to be efficient in this Eagles Offense. 307 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns seemed laughable after week two and you have to give Murray credit..he has definitely improved…but it isn’t enough.
Last time out, the Cowboys were so familiar with his running style that it was like they read his mind. Every play they packed eight players inside the box or rushed the backfield fully knowing that their former star was going to charge up the middle…because that’s what he does. This made life incredibly difficult for Sam Bradford and the rest of the Offense. That in turn, stagnated an Offense that was relying on its backfield to move the team up the field and placed a lot of pressure on a Defense who at the time were struggling deep down the field.
The problem is that DeMarco Murray is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He wants more touches, but Mathews is doing a lot more with a lot less. It’s easily noticeable in the way he’s now running the ball that DeMarco Murray has adapted his style. In the opening weeks he would dive for the first hole he saw and due to the inefficient Offensive Line, that often ended in a standstill or even a loss. He now seems to run the line a lot more, hesitate before making choices and punch his way through holes as Ryan Mathews does. Murray has become a lot more elusive and versatile but again it isn’t enough.
Because as of right now DeMarco Murray is running like a hybrid. He isn’t LeSean McCoy or Ryan Mathews despite showing evident improvement in his ability to carve dirty yards out of a situation that looks to offer no opportunity. But he isn’t DeMarco Murray either. He is no longer this North/South powerhouse that can dive through the middle out of the shotgun because as we found out early on, pistol formations don’t go down well in Philadelphia. So what we have is a North/South runner who is playing half by instinct and half on scheme..the problem is that the Cowboys are so aware of how Murray runs that this almost hesitant style is going to be perhaps even more readable than the first because he isn’t dedicated to a particular style..they’ll be suitably prepared.
Chip Kelly knows that both Mathews and Sproles are far too explosive to take minimal snaps but this is the homecoming. If DeMarco is going to succeed against his former team then something has to change.. Murray can’t face his old team as Murray. He has to face his old team as an anonymous part of the Eagles running back committee and the success of the Offense could well hinge on how he approaches the game. Murray played with vengeance last time he played against the Cowboys and it ended in a sloppy game fuelled by aggression. If he is to succeed and make a statement, he has to become a situational running back who can run the plays Chip needs..not DeMarco Murray the north/south powerhouse. The Cowboys allowed 159 yards when McCoy last ran at them…they allowed 2 when Murray rushed. We don’t expect Murray to replicate McCoy’s style or performance..but he has to adapt his style to the scheme and be certain about it…this is judgement day. Either DeMarco Murray swims as an Eagle or he sinks as DeMarco Murray.