Darren McFadden Gets His Chance At Redemption In Dallas
- Updated: March 14, 2015
The guessing game is over and DeMarco Murray has chosen a team. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, it was not them. The coveted running back signed with the Eagles and will now continue his career there. And even though the Cowboys wanted to retain his talents, they were not interested in overpaying to keep him. And so Dallas had to waive goodbye to a piece they would have liked to keep but knew they had to let go. Many wondered how they would recover from this one. Would they make a trade for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson? Would they make a move to get running back CJ Spiller? Well, Peterson is still a Viking at this moment and that could change, but Spiller decided to play in New Orleans next year, becoming the yin to Mark Ingram’s yang. The Cowboys ended up going in a direction that no one expected and one that no one expected that quick. Dallas and former Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden agreed on a two-year deal that could be worth up to $5.85 million and had a $200,000 bonus with it as well. Jerry Jones, a University Of Arkansas alum, felt the 27 year-old running back from his alma mater may be able to help his team. And it was a cheap addition as well. But how will he affect this team?
It is obvious that McFadden is a talented running back. He can catch the football out of the backfield, run like the wind and can make some people miss as well. But what makes McFadden’s style so great for the style Dallas has is his decisiveness. He has had times where he will try to do too much, but McFadden can hit the hole with acceleration. And when he hits that hole, it seems like he hits it with a whole new gear. With his speed, that could be a dangerous thing. The best thing for McFadden that will make him better is the offensive line he will be running behind. The Cowboys maulers up front were downright destroying defensive lines when it came to running the football. To give you an idea, DeMarco Murray had a great season and he had tons of ability. But it also helped him that he was not touched running the football until he was through the line of scrimmage. Imagine what McFadden, if he stay heatlhy, could do for this offense. He would be exploding through the huge holes the Dallas offensive line would make. With Murray’s success, there are some that think McFadden could have some success due to a similar running style to Murray’s. If he is able to be similar to Murray, then he would become a tremendous bargain for the Cowboys.
But let’s just say McFadden comes in and is not the guy that they want him to be. After all, McFadden has constantly seen losing season after losing season in Oakland. And he was asked to be the bellcow with the Raiders and could never do so because of health. In that case, he can become a part of the committee to replace Murray. Replacing a guy that ran for 1800 yards in 2014 is not something that can easily be done. Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar will probably get their shots at being the main back at least once as camp comes. But in the end, all three may not stand out and claim the position. The combination of all three may end up being the way to go. And if that is the way the Cowboys decide to replace Murray, then it will still cost them less and give them more flexibility than they would have had if they had signed Murray back. A wildcard that could throw some change into the situation at running back could also be the draft. The Cowboys could reach out and get a running back with their first pick. Names like Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon have been mentioned by some Cowboys fans and others that think they should add to the position. If one of these players is selected, it could make one of the current backs in Dallas expendable. If it is Gordon, the Cowboys may just go with him and have the other players as backups there. But if the selection is Gurley, then there is obviously a different approach. Gurley tore his ACL near the end of his last season in college football and that is something teams will look at when drafting him. He could be sitting on the sideline while trying to get healthy early on or he could sit out the year as he tries to work his knee back into shape. Then the original plan would be in effect.
For Dallas, the thought by some is that Murray got his yards because of that offensive line. There is no doubt that the offensive line is great at run blocking, but the theory that the offensive line was the main reason Murray went off last season is about to get tested. If McFadden or the collection of running backs in Dallas are able to have the same type of success as a runner, then the theory will be true. But if they aren’t, than some will view Murray a little bit differently because of how his replacements are playing. The pressure is on the Dallas offensive line to continue to build upon the success of last season. The shift of Dallas from a passing team to a run-first team was a huge reason for their success and the offensive line was a huge part of that. If they can prove to be as good as they were last season, then Jones and the Cowboys will be able to move forward and still stick to the gameplan they started last season. If they cannot, then the gameplan alters and the success in Dallas could as well. Either way it goes, the dynamic of the Dallas offense will be different now that Murray is gone. And what makes it even more interesting is that Dallas selected an oft-injured running back to be his potential replacement. This move will be something that will be viewed as either crazy or genius depending on how he works out. But one thing is definitely true: this is not the old Jerry Jones that we are looking at. And Dallas may benefit from it as well. As for McFadden, this is his shot at career redemption in Dallas. And this is his last true shot at becoming what some thought he could be when he was drafted. The pressure is on him as well because he has garnered the “bust” tag for what has happened in his career so far. He could do a lot to help shake that title dependent on how he does this upcoming season. It will definitely be something to watch to see how this experiment in Dallas goes.