It’s official. The Tennessee Titans have acquired running back DeMarco Murray from the Philadelphia Eagles, for an exchange in fourth round positions in this year’s draft.
Thirteen slots for those keeping score at home.
Murray, the 2014 NFL rushing leader and Offensive Player of the Year, comes to Nashville with the hopes of revitalizing his career, and a Titans run game that hasn’t produced a 100 yard performance by a running back since Chris Johnson.
That was 2013 folks…but I should digress.
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Based strictly on his production as a running back, the Titans come out of this trade a better team. But when you add the intangibles that Murray brings to the table, then you understand why Titan Sized editor Les Bailey called it a theft earlier today.
For starters, Murray brings veteran leadership to an otherwise young and inexperienced offense. Paired with tight end Delanie Walker, the Titans now have two Pro Bowl caliber weapons at the skill postpositions, a valuable asset for quarterback Marcus Mariota.
And speaking of Mariota, the second year quarterback will not have the pressure of having to do it all on his own this year. With a productive bell-cow back behind him, Mariota’s own legs can now be used more strategically. There’s a big difference between running by design, and running for your life.
Most of Mariota’s rushing yards were the result of the latter last season.
The addition of DeMarco Murray also helps Tennessee’s passing game. Last season the Titans had no viable threat (other than Mariota) to account for in the run game, so opposing defenses put all of their focus on the short passing game.
The results were disastrous for the receivers.
This season will be a different story, as teams will have to think twice about not bringing a safety closer to the line of scrimmage. This should improve the Titans’ play-action pass game, and Delanie Walker should also see fewer double teams this season as well.
I was in Dallas during Murray’s stellar 2014 campaign, and what was seldom picked up by the national media was the fact that he was a fierce competitor, on game day and in practice.
Murray would routinely blow up on his teammates during practice when he felt that the intensity level was lacking. He also did this on the sidelines when the Cowboys were playing lackadaisical. He (not Dez Bryant) was the vocal leader of that playoff run in Dallas.
Murray will bring that same intensity to the Titans. He has played the game at a high level, and knows what it takes to win. Players like that are invaluable to a young and impressionable locker room.
Last but not least, the Titans add an NFL player that is nationally known. Someone who the national media will closely follow, especially early in the season. He raises the Q rating of one of the most anonymous teams in all of sports.
All and all, a great opening stanza for new general manager Jon Robinson.