Weekly, I will recognize the best Cowboys performances of that weekâ€™s game (The Ballers) and the implications of those performances on the season ahead. We will discuss the standout offensive and defensive performances as well as anyÂ outstanding Special Teams performances.
Welcome to the week 1 edition of Big Harbâ€™s Ballers. After an ugly loss like this one, it is sometimes hard to find outstanding performances. I had to watch the game a second time to focus enough on anything positive and find the stand outÂ ballers.Â Not the most pleasant time I’ve ever spent! With all that being said, there were a couple of players that deserve recognition.Â The Week 1 BallersÂ are DeMarco Murray and Rolando McClain.
DeMarco Murray picked up right where he left off at the end of last season: with strong running and chunks of yards. He also provided a significant contribution catching the ball out of the backfield. Here is his stat line from Sunday’s game:
Murray provided the Cowboys with the effective ground game they spoke about all off-season. He ran with determination and fought for the tough yards when he had the ball in his hands. His 143 yards from scrimmage and aÂ touchdown gave the Cowboys an opportunity to have the type of balance they needed to beat the 49ers. Unfortunately, his fumbleÂ in the games first seriesÂ was returned for a touchdown and became the harbinger of a far to generous offense. Because of Tony Romo’s struggles, Murray was really the only offensive impact player.
As you’ve probably heard by now, this was the first game in which Murray ran at least 20 times, that the Cowboys lost. The problem was not Murray, though. There were too many times when the passing game coordinator deserted his most effective weapon or when the rusty Quarterback took the ball out of Murray’s hands. Murray displayed the vision, quickness and toughness to show he can be depended upon by this Cowboys offense this season. If he can stay healthy through the 1st half of the season, it might be time to consider a reasonable extension
While there was only one obvious choice for the baller of the week on offense, there were several solid performances on the defensive side of the ball. If I had told you prior to the game that multiple defensive linemen AND linebackers would perform well enough to be considered baller of the week on defense, you would probably assume that the Cowboys started the season 1-0. Well we all know that didn’t happen because of the dismal overallÂ showing by the offense.
That being said, of the several solid performances by Cowboys defensive players, Rolando McClain’s stood out the most. This is because, prior to the 49ers games, there were questions about McClain’s desire to play as well as about his conditioning to play an entire game. McClain answered the second question with flying colors. He was even able to replace Justin Durant on the nickel defense after Durant suffered another groin injury. The question of his desire is hard to answer. As I tell my wife all the time, I am not a mind reader. What was obvious on the field, though, was his passion and energy. He was exploding through tackles and finishing plays with authority.
There’s a long way to go in 2014 and there’s not much that is more worrisome for confidence in a football player than questions about his desire to play. However, the implications for the 2015 defense could be enormous if Rolando McClain has indeed recaptured his fire for the game. He is built with the ideal measurables for middle linebacker and his presence could allow the Cowboys to move See Lee to the weak side linebacker spot. That position takes less physical beating which might help Lee to stay on the field and use his playmaking ability in the prime position for this defensive scheme.
Let me know your thoughts on which players were ballers for the Cowboys in week 1