Mac Engel

Murray missed sorely in underwhelming performance by Cowboys RBs

Joseph Randle rushed for 65 yards on 16 carries Sunday against the Giants, but didn’t dazzle as DeMarco Murray’s replacement.
Joseph Randle rushed for 65 yards on 16 carries Sunday against the Giants, but didn’t dazzle as DeMarco Murray’s replacement. AP

Only because the New York Giants are not that good at football did it prevent our local heroes from a total embarrassment in the season opener. Tony Romo, you really are The Man.

Now, how ‘bout that Cowboys’ running game? Where have you gone, DeMarco Murray? And what about all of that meat on that bone that his replacement, Joseph Randle, was going to get fat on once he became the starting running back?

In deference to Mr. Randy Galloway, the Cowboys threw out a dog-butted performance against the Giants, and there are homeless, rabid mutts that would be offended with that comparison. The Cowboys had bad passes, dropped passes, pick-sixes and one 40-ounce can of Stupid (I see you, Jeremy Mincey).

This should have been The Slaughter at Jerry World. Only Mr. Romo saved their dog butts. His team asked him to wear the cape, and he did it by putting the team on his arm to pull out a Staubach-esque 27-26 win against the Giants on Sunday night to open the season.

When Romo needed to be a Pro Bowler, he was up to it. When the running backs needed to be ... uhh ... good, they weren’t even average. If the Cowboys’ running game pulls another stunt like it did in Week 1, Romo will be on IR by Week 6 and there will be no Super Bowl, no 10-win season, no NFC East title and no playoffs.

Sunday night confirmed a few things for us, starting with the idea that the preseason helps all but nobody and the Cowboys’ hubris with their offensive line is a good way to get their meal-ticket quarterback killed.

Bottom line: Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden can’t have another Cowpoop game like they did Sunday night if this team expect to go anywhere.

All of that arrogance toward Murray during his departure via free agency looks ignorant as we watched his combined replacement of Randle and McFadden, behind the same offensive line, just be average.

We saw with our own eyes that, despite the insistence from all of the Cowboys’ people otherwise, that not just “anybody” can run behind this offensive line.

“Have to watch the tape,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, which is a stall tactic used by every coach known to man to avoid saying a thing. “We had some good runs. I thought Jo ran the ball well. I thought Darren ran the ball well.”

No he didn’t.

Randle started the game, but there was no genuine separation between he and McFadden. He ran the ball 16 times for 65 yards — a respectable 4.1 yards per carry. Don’t let the yards per carryfool you; in his first start as Murray’s replacement, Randle looked like a backup.

McFadden wasn’t better. He ran the ball six times for 16 yards.

I was convinced, however, that McFadden is the better runner, though I am not so sure that there is a difference or that it matters.

The Cowboys’ running backs were actually far more effective as pass receivers than runners. With little Lance Dunbar tied for the team lead with eight catches, the Cowboys’ backs had 12 receptions for more than 100 yards.

All told, the Cowboys ran the ball 23 times for a whopping 80 yards.

The three turnovers, which led to 17 points, and the score played a large role in the play-calling, which is why Romo threw the ball 45 times Sunday night. Do you know how many times Romo threw the ball 45 times last season? Go with zero. The last time he chucked this often was 2013 — a loss to Green Bay.

It has been agreed the Cowboys are a better team when he doesn’t have to throw it all over the field, but in the fourth quarter they didn’t have a choice. He had to throw it all over the place to have a prayer.

The Cowboys are the Cowboys when they run the ball, and they did not do that Sunday night. You don’t have to go to the tape to see that.

Yes, there were extenuating circumstances that screwed up the type of balance the Cowboys’ want from their offense, but nothing we saw, or the video tape will show, says that the combination of Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden is up to replacing DeMarco Murray.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof

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