Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has been far and away the best running back in the NFL this season.
He has sped past not only his first seven opponents but also the NFL record book, becoming the first NFL player to begin a season with seven straight 100-yard rushing games, eclipsing Jim Brown’s previous record of six straight.
Through seven games Murray has rushed for 913 yards, seven touchdowns and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Heading into Monday night’s showdown versus the Washington Redskins he leads the Arian Foster, the NFL’s next best rusher, by 147 yards. That gap will surely widen after Monday night, but by how much is the question.
The Redskins have had an up-and-down season when it comes to defending the run. Their best performance came against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2, allowing only 25 yards on the ground. The low point of the season in terms of defending the run came in Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks. The defending Super Bowl champions ran for 225 yards, 122 of which came from quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Redskins have faced the NFL’s 21st (Tennessee Titans) and 28th (Arizona Cardinals) ranked rushing offenses (in terms of yards per game) in the last two weeks, allowing only 144 rushing yards combined.
Dallas has spent three of their last four first round picks on offensive linemen, selecting left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. Those picks have helped lead to the league’s top rushing offense at 159.7 yards per game.
Thanks to the magic of a very interactive and scientific Excel spreadsheet, we can take a look at how both the Redskins run defense and DeMarco Murray have fared during the first seven weeks of the season.
We all know in order for the Redskins to have a smidgen of a chance to win, Murray must be contained. Will that happen? Not likely. But it will be important to see how the Redskins attempt to stop Murray. If they are able to do that for any amount of time, it’s imperative for the defense to be able to counter Dallas’ passing game.