Redskins vs. Cowboys: DeMarco Murray Must Lead Way for Dallas on SNF

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Running back DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys breaks free for a 91-yard touchdown run against the St. Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan must get back to his roots and run his offense through DeMarco Murray on Sunday Night Football against the Washington Redskins

The Oakland Raiders led the league in rushing back in 2000 with Callahan running the team's offense, and it was thought he'd bring the same approach to the Cowboys this season when it was announced he'd be calling plays on offense. 

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News was one of many who believed Dallas would look to pound the rock this year with Callahan calling the shots:

I think with Bill Callahan calling the plays, I think you're going to see a stronger commitment to the running game. You have to make a commitment, regardless of your personnel...If the Cowboys want to take the next step, they have to become more of a running team.

Gosselin and others who were excited about the team's supposed commitment to the running game have certainly been disappointed this year, however. The Cowboys have only attempted 109 running plays in five games to open the season—the seventh-fewest of any team in the league. 

Meanwhile, Tony Romo has attempted 188 passes during the same stretch of games. Granted, Romo has been absolutely scorching this year, completing 71.8 percent of his passes for 1,523 yards with 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. 

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 08:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys throws the ball in the second quarter against the New York Giants on September 8, 2013 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Given the incredible production we're seeing from Romo in the passing game, it's easy to understand how the Cowboys have maintained their status as one of the league's most pass-happy teams. 

But one look at the standings shows this strategy isn't working for the Cowboys. 

With a record of 2-3, Dallas is underachieving, and it's partly due to the team's lack of commitment to the running game. 

Murray has proven to be extremely effective when given a chance to perform, however. 

For the season, he's rushed for 399 yards with two touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

His two big performances this season were not coincidentally in games that he received at least 20 carries against the St. Louis Rams and New York Giants. In those games, he touched the ball 57 times for 328 total yards with a touchdown.

In the team's three other games, Murray touched the ball a total of 49 times, and he unsurprisingly was held in check in those games. It is worth mentioning that the Cowboys lost all three of those games as well. 

Up next for the Cowboys are the 1-3 Redskins—a team that features the league's second-worst run defense, allowing 142.3 yards per game.

LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles opened up his 2013 campaign rushing for 184 yards and a touchdown against Washington.

Veteran third-down specialist James Starks then rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, and then Joique Bell totaled 132 yards and a touchdown playing in place of an injured Reggie Bush in Week 3. 

Even the Oakland Raiders rushed for over 100 yards against Washington in Week 4 without Terrelle Pryor, who missed the game with a concussion, and without Darren McFadden, who left early with an injury.

If ever there was a good excuse for the Cowboys to get back to pounding the ball with Murray, then this game is it. 

Callahan has no excuse for not running Murray at least 20 times in this game. 

It's Murray—not Tony Romo—who is the key to Dallas' offense this year, and Callahan must establish his running back early and often on Sunday night against the pitiful defense of Washington. 


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