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Evaluating DeMarco Murray's Value To The Titans

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James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

I think we can all agree that DeMarco Murray did not fit in with Chip Kelly's offense in Philadelphia. Eventually, he called out the coaching staff and was then demoted to 3rd string. Chip Kelly is gone, but Murray still wanted out of Philly. He was traded to the Titans, and now we are left figuring out what we have in the former league leading rusher.

Let's look at his performance in Dallas in 2014. Murray lead the league in rushing with 1845 yards (he also had 416 receiving yards to boot). Per Pro Football Focus, Dallas had the best offensive line in 2014, which I have no doubt helped Murray achieve such feats. Dallas ran much of their running plays with the quarterback starting under center.

Here's what the Washington Post had to say about how Murray fit in with both the Philly and Dallas offenses:

“Murray has found out this season that he doesn’t fit with the Eagles, just like Kelly has found out that Murray doesn’t fit with the Eagles and their offensive scheme,” Cole said. “He did fit with the Dallas offensive scheme, a more down-hill approach, a more physical approach to blocking.”

Here's a couple of examples of how he fit in with Dallas. In the first one, Romo hands the ball off to Murray, the fullback blocks the cornerback, and Jason Witten allows Murray enough space to make his cut upfield. Also on display is Murray's willingness to fight for extra yards, which we'll see later is not always a good thing.

Murray 1

Another example of Dallas' physical blocking that results in a nice gain for Murray.

Murray 4

Chip Kelly's offense in Philadelphia was much of the read-option where both Murray and Bradford started in the backfield next to one another. It often resulted in negative plays or forced Murray to run to the outside as we see here (Bradford started under center here though)

Murray 2

And here:

Murray 3

You get a RB in the NFL running sideways, and it usually ends up pretty poorly.

Receiving

The one aspect of Murray's game I am most excited about is his ability to catch balls out of the backfield. He has such a good burst of speed after making the catch. Seen here:

Murray 5

And here:

Murray 5

I love that he fights for extra yards, but after a certain point, you just have to get down. It reminds of Jared Cook fighting for extra yards against the Bengals in 2011. He ended up fumbling, and that was the game.

So the magic question is how we will help the Titans?

My belief is that Murray will be a huge asset to the Titans offense, but especially Mariota. Jon Robinson has been doing a good job so far of upgrading the offensive line (which PFF had us at 29th last year, ouch). As long as we can keep Murray running down-hill and not side-to-side, I think we will be in good shape. I'm going out on a limb here, but I am saying Murray will be the Comeback POY.