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Can The Dallas Cowboys Running Backs Win?

Updated on August 29, 2012

Last Week-Tony Romo

Last week we discussed whether Tony Romo could possibly get the Dallas Cowboys back to the Super Bowl. We saw that, statistically, he is equivalent to Troy Aikman, the Cowboys all time winning-est Super Bowl QB. There is no denying the fact that Tony Romo needs to stay a Cowboy for Dallas to make it back to the promised land. I realize that there are a lot of fans, commentators and players that do not agree with me. I believe that numbers do not lie. Say what you will, Tony Romo is not the problem of the Dallas Cowboys.

Today we will be evaluating the running back situation. We will take irrefutable factual information, dissect it and create a reasonable assumption about Dallas Cowboys' running back situation. Enjoy!

Anyone Remember Him?

2008 Marion Barber; Pro Bowl
2008 Marion Barber; Pro Bowl | Source

Who Wants Marion Barber Back?

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2 RB System

If you are a fan of the NFL you have heard many commentators describe the "Two Running Back System." Most people say that the Dallas Cowboys utilize the two running back system, but do we really? How does that effect our stats for our comparison?

First, who is on the current, Pre-Season roster, in order of depth?

  1. DeMarco Murray; 2 year man out of Oklahoma
  2. Felix Jones; 5 year man out of Arkansas
  3. Phillip Tanner; 2 year man out of Middle Tennessee State
  4. Lance Dunbar; Rookie out of North Texas
  5. Jamize Olaware; Rookie out of North Texas (former wide receiver)
  6. Javarris Williams; 1 year man out of Tennessee State

This roster tells me that Dallas definitely uses a two running back system for two reasons. First, and most obvious, is the two rookies from North Texas. Cowboys drafted a former wide receiver and the number 5 rushing running back in the nation from the same school. I know Cowboys wanted Olaware to be a full-back but he was moved to running back.

The other reason is Murray and Jones. Jones has the break out speed and vision; while Murray just plains runs over people and gets "er-done." This is the one, two punch that a two running back system requires.

How does this effect our stats? Well, we will have to combine the rushing stats of the probable number 1 and 2 running backs for this season and compare them with Emmitt Smith's stats. Why? Because Emmitt Smith won 3 Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys and because his name stands alone at the very top of NFL's all time rushing yards list.

Emmitt Smith

Total Yards

stats from

2012 Projected Starters

Total Yards
DeMarco Murray
Felix Jones

Stats from

Dallas, We Have A Problem

Historically, the NFL rushing yards per team per season has increased by 8.4% from 1995 until 2011. With that in mind, Emmitt Smith numbers would look something like this:

  • 1,796 yards rushing
  • 5.2 yards per carry
  • 116.7 yards per game

Couple that with Emmitt Smith averaging 17 rushing touchdowns per game during the Super Bowl winning years, and he pummels the current running backs for the Dallas Cowboys. DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones combined to rush for 3 touchdowns. Wow, that's shocking.

Wait, you may say, "What about the whole team? Weren't there more than just Murray and Jones last year?" Alright, as a team, the 2011 Dallas Cowboys rushed for 1,807 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 112.9 yards per game and 5 TOTAL RUSHING TD's ( The Dallas Cowboys entire team barely beat Emmitt Smith's projected stats for total yards and yards per game. If you want look at the entire 1995 team rushing stats, the Cowboys rushed for 2,201 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 137.6 yards per game and 29 total rushing TD's ( The last year that the Cowboys even whiffed at the 1995 rushing stats was in 2009 when the back field consisted of the 2-headed monster of Felix Jones and Marion Barber.

I do agree that it will take a 2-headed monster approach at running back. If the Cowboys want to keep either Jones or Murray, they will need Arian Foster, Maurice Jone-Drew or Ray Rice to put with them. The problem is that this is an ongoing, year after year problem. It has not been addressed and until the Dallas Cowboys can fix this, "We ain't goin' no wheres."


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