Running back DeMarco Murray enters his first season with the Tennessee Titans much like he did last year in Philadelphia, and his new franchise is hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself.
Last June, Murray was the league’s leading rusher and the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
He cashed in that offseason when he signed with the Eagles.
When we first caught wind of Murray to Philly last year, we all assumed what he probably assumed…that he would be the workhorse tailback for them like he was in Dallas.
To the naked eye the move made sense. The Eagles finished just two games behind Dallas that season, and the Murray swap was supposed to tip the scales in their favor.
At least that’s what we thought.
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Instead, Murray found himself in the midst of a full-blown running back by committee situation last season in Philadelphia…something that I’m sure Chip Kelly left out of his recruiting pitch.
After a career high in attempts, yards, and touchdowns in 2014, Murray suffered his worst statistical season as a starter last year with the Eagles. Thanks in large part to a three-way time share with running backs Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles.
Murray was clearly frustrated last season…on the field and behind the scenes. It’s easy to understand why he would want out.
But ironically enough, his start in Tennessee has been eerily similar.
When we first caught wind of Murray to the Titans a few months ago, we all assumed what he probably assumed…that he would be the workhorse tailback for them like he was in Dallas.
To the naked eye the move made sense. The Titans were transitioning to a run oriented offense, and were in desperate need of a workhorse caliber back. And Murray was looking for a feature role.
Or at least that’s what we thought.
Not long after Murray’s signing, Tennessee selected running back Derrick Henry with the 45th overall pick of this year’s draft. A lofty investment for a garbage time clean up back.
Ears perked when general manager Jon Robinson referred to the new Murray-Henry tandem as 1 and 1a after the draft. “Thunder and Thunder” as he so eloquently put it.
Something that I’m sure that he and head coach Mike Mularkey left out of their recruiting pitch.
And once again, Murray now faces a potential running back by committee nightmare.
The Titans have made no secret of the fact that Henry figures to play a huge role in their offense this season, and to his credit, Murray has said and done all the right things when it comes to the highly touted rookie from Alabama.
But this is June, will he be singing the same tune in October?
If Henry starts fast out of the gate, then it will be impossible for Tennessee to keep him off the field…regardless of Murray’s production.
From a team prospective, an equal share with equal production from both backs would be the ideal scenario for the Titans. It is a critical element to a successful run-first identity.
But will that be the ideal scenario for Murray?
Conventional wisdom would suggest that Murray should / will start the season as the Titans’ number one back, and will get the lion’s share of the work early on.
If he makes the most of his touches, then it will be equally hard to keep him off the field this season. His career low 3.6 yards per carry did him no favors in that regard last year in Philly.
DeMarco Murray must be thinking…”Here we go again.”
All parties involved hope that it stays in the offseason this time.