ESPN Staff Writer, Jean-Jacques Taylor would have you believe the Alfred Morris signing was a bad idea. He would also have you believe DeMarco Murray was a much better running back for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys signed 27 year old Alfred Morris to a two-year deal worth $3.75 million. According to Jean-Jaques, Morris has nearly 1,100 carries the past four years, more than any NFL player, and his yardage totals have dipped from 1,613 as a rookie to 751 last season.
“More important, perhaps, is that Alfred Morris has been at his best against the Cowboys, with 710 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games. Three of his 13 100-yard games, including the only 200-yard game of his career, came against the Cowboys.”
“The issue is that the Cowboys are putting quite a bit of pressure on their offensive line to make average runners good instead of putting a good runner behind them whom they can make great, which is what they did with DeMarco Murray, who gained 1,845 yards on 392 carries in 2014.”
“It’s why they should take a quality runner in the second or third round of the draft and let McFadden and Morris compete for the backup job behind whichever rookie they draft.”
He also said “they’d (the coaches) tell you about Darren McFadden finishing fourth in the NFL with 1,089 yards despite starting just 10 games. If you watched the games, then you know McFadden had a good year statistically, though his numbers didn’t translate to wins.”
“He wasn’t effective enough to make teams commit an eighth defender to stop the Cowboys’ running game, and he no longer has the top-end speed to be a difference-maker.”
That appears to be a pretty convincing article, but it’s easy to manipulate stats to fit your personal opinion or agenda. Simple things like failing to mention that despite having the worst season of his career in 2015 Alfred Morris rushed for 751 yards as compared to 702 yards by Murray. Or that Alfred Morris averaged 3.7 YPC as compared to Murray’s 3.6.
It makes Alfred Morris look pretty bad saying his production dropped from 1,613 yards in 2012 to 751 in 2015. Why not mention Jay Gruden has a different offensive philosophy and he was sharing carries with Matt Jones (144 carries 490 yards 3.4 YPC) in a two back system? The simple fact his carries decreased from 335 in 2012 to 202 in 2015 explains the decrease in production. Why not mention the fact that DeMarco Murray’s production dropped from 1,845 yards in 2014 (4.7 YPC) to 702 yards in 2015 (3.6 YPC)?
Why not mention the fact that Alfred Morris has had over 1,000 yards rushing 3 out of his 4 years in the NFL as compared to 2 of the 5 for Murray? The reality is, both players saw a significant decrease in production in 2015. Both saw less carries too. However, If you are going to mention McFadden having a history of breaking down, you need to mention the fact that 2014 was the only time Murray completed a season without missing time due to injury. In fact, he missed time again in 2015 with injury and only started 8 games. Murray has started 55 of a possible 80 games as compared to 64 of 64 by Morris. Durability matters folks. So does consistency.
This type of stat manipulation is common among journalists who are trying to impress their views upon fans of the Dallas Cowboys in order to make a point as to what they think the Cowboys need to do in the draft. The Cowboys are well aware of the fact they need to draft a running back. The Alfred Morris signing was a wise move because it enables them to enter the draft with two proven veterans at the position. They wont be pigeon holed in to reaching for a RB and can focus on drafting the best player available.
Saying the Cowboys should name an unproven rookie as the starter before he ever suits up in the NFL, and the veteran a backup is one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard. The most important thing for the Cowboys moving forward is protecting Tony Romo. It is a rare thing for a rookie RB to be proficient in pass protection day one. Personally, I feel much more comfortable with a proven veteran being in charge of blitz pick up.
Overall, Alfred Morris has proven to be a consistent and durable running back. Never missing a start due to injury in itself makes this a good signing. We all saw what DeMarco Murray was able to do without the help of the Cowboys offensive line in Philadelphia. I don’t know about you, but I am anxious to see what Morris can do with it.
I did watch all the games folks, and knowing the Cowboys were missing their starter Tony Romo, teams repeatedly loaded the box to take away the run and dared them to take a shot down the field under Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. I have no idea where he came up with the idea that McFadden wasn’t facing eight man boxes, but much like the rest of his argument against Alfred Morris, it’s a mute point. Rest easy Cowboys faithful, they got a solid, durable RB on a very cap-friendly deal. There is still a lot of gas left in that tank.