What Joseph Randle did Wednesday was to say what nearly every single analyst, and even some Dallas Cowboys coaches and scouts, said about DeMarco Murray last season.
“I got to sit back and watch a lot, and I felt like there was a lot of meat left on the bone,” Randle told a small collection of us fine media folk after the Cowboys’ OTA on Wednesday. My eyes lit up.
Mr. Randle, on behalf of every single member of the media that cover the NFL, thank you for your candor. You not only filled countless columns but sports radio talk shows and hundreds of thousands of blogs.
All he stated was the dirty little secret floating around Valley Ranch last season.
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Do not drop the hammer on Randle because what he said about Murray was the truth. Despite his historic season, Murray had a penchant for leaving yards on the field. Maybe hundreds of them. That was the knock on him. He didn’t have the burst, or the vision, to grab all of those available yards for what could have been an NFL record-breaking year.
The Cowboys are dying for Randle — not free-agent signee Darren McFadden — to clearly grab the No. 1 running back spot, and be the guy to eat the remaining meat on that bone. If Randle was regarded as just a bit more trustworthy, this Adrian Peterson-to-Dallas rumor would be dead.
Randle is the perfect age, 23, and has shown just enough pop in his first two seasons to prove he has the ability. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season on but 51 carries.
What he has also shown is that — unlike Murray — he’s not a reliable pro, and has not earned this team’s trust. That’s why McFadden is here. That’s why AD to Dallas still lives All Day Every Day.
Randle has a pair of off-the-field incidents in the last year that are a concern. Pro football players who make six figures don’t steal cologne or underwear from Dillard’s, as Randle did last October.
Good pros don’t follow up such an incident with another. In February, he was arrested in Wichita on a weed charge, and allegations from the mother of his child that he threatened her. The charges eventually were dropped, but good pros don’t put themselves in such a vulnerable position.
I asked him if he believed those off-the-field incidents have created the perception that he is not trustworthy on the field.
“I think the film speaks for itself,” he said. “You go out there and keep grinding every day and put good things on film. We’re football players and that’s how we should be judged.”
Should, but they aren’t. It is precisely the things on film — stealing from Dillard’s — that hurt his value as a player. Basically, the man has to be smarter.
If he can change the perception that he says the right thing but does the wrong thing, and prove he can block, and demonstrate he is good and durable enough to be a starting NFL running back, the job is his. He will be the one carrying the ball 20-plus times a game, and this sales pitch of a dual-running back system will die on the table.
“Just be here day in and day out. Earning Tony [Romo’s] trust and all of the older guys’ trust, including the coaching staff. I have a lot of work to do, and we have a lot time to make the most of each day,” he said. “Everything you go through in life you learn from, and I’m ready to go.”
Sounds good. Of course, Randle has a penchant for sounding good. He is a likable guy and he sounds sincere. Eventually sounding good must align with playing well and staying incident free.
On the off chance he can’t, or doesn’t, the Cowboys have McFadden, and the dangling dream of trading for the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. You know Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would do it while the patient men such as head coach Jason Garrett and No. 2 owner Stephen Jones would prefer to go with the younger guy who is itching to prove he can do it.
If AD somehow becomes available, Papa Jerry is going to win that one. I’m not sure anybody could complain.
Randle is the perfect age to be a good NFL running back, and the Cowboys have an offensive line to block an invading army. It is all there for Randle to take the remaining meat on that bone.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760
Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog