Murray in a hurry

How unusual are DeMarco Murray’s four 100-yard rushing days in the first four games of the NFL season? This unusual: No other active running back has done it.

Indeed, only one other back has done it in the 2000s. The short list of runners who have accomplished the feat since 1960:


Year Running back, Team Att Yards Avg TD Proj. Yds Final Total*
2014 DeMarco Murray, Cowboys 99 534 5.4 5 2,136 ?????
2003 Stephen Davis, Panthers 106 565 5.3 2 2,260 1,444
1997 Terrell Davis, Broncos 95 526 5.5 3 2,104 1,750
1995 Emmitt Smith, Cowboys 88 543 6.2 9 2,172 1,773*
1985 James Wilder, Bucs 102 497 4.9 2 1,988 1,300
1975 O.J. Simpson, Bills 118 697 5.9 5 2,788 1,817*
1973 O.J. Simpson, Bills 102 647 6.3 4 2,588 2,003*

*led league

As you can see, there are two Hall of Famers here (Smith and Simpson) and two 2,000-yard rushers (Davis in 1998 and Simpson in 14 games in ’73). So Murray is in pretty good company. As you also can see, none of the backs came within 300 yards of their projected total (based on their four-game figure). So DeMarco likely will fall considerably short of 2,136.

(FYI: Davis’ streak came in his first four games with the Panthers after signing with them as a free agent. Carolina went all the way to the Super Bowl that season — and nearly upset the Patriots.)

What Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has to be careful of is playing too much with his New Favorite Toy. After all, Murray is on pace for 396 carries, which would be the seventh-highest total of all time — and nearly twice as many as he’s ever had in a season (217). The group he would join:


Year Running back, Team Carries
2006 Larry Johnson, Chiefs 416
1998 Jamal Anderson, Falcons 410
1984 James Wilder, Bucs 407
1986 Eric Dickerson, Rams 404
2000 Eddie George, Titans 403
1985 Gerald Riggs, Falcons 397
2014 DeMarco Murray, Cowboys 396*


Seasons like these aren’t usually conducive to long-term productivity. Johnson, for instance, never had another 1,000-yard year, and Anderson, Wilder and Riggs had only one. As for George, he was a diminished back after that, averaging just 3.2 yards a carry in his remaining four seasons. Dickerson is the outlier, topping 1,000 yards three more times and winning the rushing title in 1988. Not coincidentally, he’s the only one in Canton (or likely to get there).

At any rate, it’s something for the Cowboys to think about. Murray is just 26, and he’s been used humanely up to now. He could be capable of a few more seasons like this if they don’t run him into the ground.