Add LaDainian Tomlinson to those who feel DeMarco Murray could have rushed for more yards last season.
Tomlinson, the 2006 NFL MVP who has the fifth-most rushing yards in NFL history, agreed with former Cowboys great Emmitt Smith’s assessment in saying Murray could have set the NFL rushing record with 2,500 yards last season.
“Emmitt is correct,” Tomlinson said at his charity golf tournament earlier this week at Hawk’s Creek.
“DeMarco is a very physical runner and instead of making that last guy miss and taking it for 50 or 60, he would try and run him over. That’s just his style and he would end up getting tackled for 20 instead of 50. So Emmitt is right in that sense.
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“At the same time, one thing that I do respect about DeMarco is he knows his strengths. He is not a juke guy, he’s a downhill, physical runner.”
Murray led the NFL in rushing by a wide margin last season, racking up 1,845 yards. But many have been quick to credit the Cowboys’ elite offensive line that boasts three Pro Bowlers in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin.
The Cowboys felt comfortable enough with the offensive line in place, of course, that they let Murray leave in free agency to the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
This isn’t the first time Murray’s production has been brought into question. Joseph Randle, who is expected to see an increased role with Murray’s departure, vocalized it first when he said he felt Murray “left a lot of meat on the bone” earlier this offseason.
Smith echoed that sentiment in a radio interview with 1310-AM The Ticket on Monday.
“When I think about DeMarco Murray, he has his own talent but when I was watching him run last year, and this is just me evaluating, I saw some opportunities there that was left on the football field where he could’ve had 2,500 yards,” Smith said. “But he maximized what he had and he did the best with what he had.”
If Murray would have gotten 2,500 yards, he would have easily become the NFL’s single-season rushing leader. That distinction still belongs to Eric Dickerson, who rushed for 2,105 yards with the Rams in 1984.
Murray’s 2014 season with 1,845 yards ranked 17th-best in league history.
As far as the Cowboys letting Murray walk in free agency and focusing on locking up wide receiver Dez Bryant, Tomlinson felt that was a no-brainer decision.
“Really and truly, the Cowboys have done a great job of building that offensive line where they don’t necessarily have to pay DeMarco,” Tomlinson said. “But you had to pay Dez because Dez is a playmaker at the wide receiver position. In today’s NFL, offenses are built around throwing the football and you have to have a really good guy out wide.”