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Everybody Leaves Meat On The Bone

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DeMarco Murray missed some reads. But everyone does.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys running back Joseph Randle created a minor stir when he criticized DeMarco Murray’s vision, saying he "left a lot of meat on the bone." This predictably riled up Eagles fans and fired up Cowboys fans, who just a few months ago were singing Murray’s praises. Funny how that works. But that's part of the fun of being a fan.

But then Andy Benoit of MMQB wrote that Randle was right, and also offered some hot takes to assert that not only was Murray's vision lacking, but that Randle would be even better than the league's leading rusher. Prior to this, Benoit had praised Murray's vision.

But now Benoit is saying otherwise. Jimmy Kempski did a wonderful take down of Benoit's conclusions, but there’s even more meat on this bone. Benoit didn't just inaccurately rip Murray, he hilariously overrated Randle.

Randle averaged 6.7 yards a carry off the bench in 2014. He can average well over 5.0 getting 20-plus carries a game as a starter as long as he plays with the discipline that Murray sometimes lacked.

This is an extremely bold claim. Since the NFL went to a 16 game schedule, only 12 players have averaged 20+ attempts per game and 5.0+ yards per carry.

Year Att Yds Y/A
Barry Sanders 1997 335 2053 6.13
Adrian Peterson 2012 348 2097 6.03
Barry Sanders 1994 331 1883 5.69
Chris Johnson 2009 358 2006 5.6
Eric Dickerson 1984 379 2105 5.55
Jamal Lewis 2003 387 2066 5.34
Ahman Green 2003 355 1883 5.3
LaDainian Tomlinson 2006 348 1815 5.22
Tiki Barber 2005 357 1860 5.21
Larry Johnson 2005 336 1750 5.21
Earl Campbell 1980 373 1934 5.18
Terrell Davis 1998 392 2008 5.12
Shaun Alexander 2005 370 1880 5.08
Tiki Barber 2006 327 1662 5.08

Rarefied air. What exactly would be "easily over 5.0"? 5.3? That's only happened seven times. 5.5? Only five times. To back up this claim Benoit offers no film study or even general evaluation of Randle's abilities. He just assumes that Randle's 51 carries, half of which came with a 15+ point lead, will easily extrapolate into a full time starting job. In 54 carries in 2013, Randle averaged 3.0 yards per attempt. Historical context seems to be an issue for Benoit.

DeMarco Murray had 392 rushing attempts in 2014, a total that has been met or exceeded only eight times. In the history of the NFL, only Terrell Davis and Jamal Anderson had at least that many carries and more rushing yards than Murray. Only Davis had a better average yards per attempt. Benoit then doubled down on his lack of historical knowledge:

it’s not a question of whether the Cowboys have the best run-blocking O-line in the league, it’s whether they have the best run-blocking O-line of this century.

Unless he’s watched tape of teams throughout the past 100 years, this is some ridiculous hyperbole. And considering the quality of Benoit’s film study on Murray, it would still be a ridiculous claim if he did all that work.

Equally laughable is Benoit’s methodology, and not just his poor use of screen shots when GIFs are so common place and easy to make. Benoit admitted he pissed off a coach by not knowing what the hell he was talking about, then solicited another coach’s opinion and basically passed that coach’s opinion along. Then when Kempski's article was brought to his attention, he admitted defeat.

That said, yes, Randle is right. Of course Murray missed opportunities. But so what. Every player does. There is no perfect player, to expect anyone to never make a mistake is completely unrealistic. To criticize one player for leaving yards on the field after he gained more than anybody had and not even acknowledge that others do is foolish. We can easily show that other running backs leave yards on the field in just three plays.

Matt Forte churns out 1400+ yards from scrimmage seasons every year behind a bad offensive line. You don't do that without good vision and decision making. He leaves yards on the field.

Like in Benoit's first example of Murray, Forte had some open space to his left but didn't see it.

Arian Foster is good for 1200 rushing yards and 1500 yards from scrimmage without breaking a sweat. He leaves yards on the field.

Foster goes to the outside when he probably could have gained yards had he cut inside, like in Benoit's third Murray example (though Murray wouldn't have).

And even the great Joseph Randle leaves yards on the field.

Apparently nobody likes BBQ.