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Running the Numbers: Should DeMarco Murray Be a Workhorse?

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Jonathan Bales

My latest article at DallasCowboys.com takes a look at the potential distribution of touches between DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones. From the post:

The questions the Cowboys face are 1) whether their rookie phenom has the ability to handle a heavy workload and 2) if he would thrive in that role. It’s very easy to live in the moment and declare that Murray should be the recipient of 20 carries per game, but central to the workhorse/running back by committee debate is the talent of Felix Jones.

Many people have written off Jones simply because he hasn’t been able to stay on the field, already missing 16 games in his young career. When healthy, however, Jones has actually been one of the most efficient runners in NFL history.

Of every running back that has played in the NFL since 1980, only two with as many carries as Jones – Bo Jackson and Jamaal Charles – have posted a superior yards-per-carry. Jones’ 8.87 yards-per-carry as a rookie is the most in NFL history of any back with more than 12 carries. If you really think about Jones’ time on the field, he’s been sensational. Unfortunately, injuries have clouded our judgment of his talent.

Breaking down Jones’ numbers more, the results are clear: Jones thrives as the second option in the running game. During his time at Arkansas, Jones rushed for 6.3, 7.6, and 8.7 yards-per-carry while playing behind Darren McFadden. Jones was actually more efficient than McFadden in each of their three years in college.

Read the full article here. Ultimately, I think the Cowboys will be best served giving 60 to 65 percent of the carries to Murray. Those who want to hand over 80 percent of the rushing duties to Murray are being a bit naive, I think. He isn’t that type of guy (who is?), and Felix Jones is still an efficient player.

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