Gary Brown will begin his eighth year as an NFL coach and his fourth season with the Dallas Cowboys after he became the running backs coach on February 8, 2013. Brown came to Dallas after spending four seasons in the same capacity with the Cleveland Browns.
In 2015 Brown was charged with the challenge of replacing the production of 2014 NFL rushing champ DeMarco Murray, who departed via free agency. The response at the position included a collection of runners who gave Dallas a top-10 rushing attack, by averaging 118.1 yards-per-game (ninth). Veteran free agent signee Darren McFadden began the year as a backup to Joseph Randle, but took control as the team’s starting running back following a 152-yard performance at the N.Y. Giants (10/25). From that game through the final 11 weeks of the season, his 960 rushing yards were the third-most by an NFL rusher during that period. McFadden finished the year with 1,089 yards - his second career 1,000-yard season - on a career-high 239 carries (4.6 avg.) with three touchdowns. It marked the third consecutive season that Dallas boasted a 1,000-yard rusher, and it was also the first time in team history that two different players have had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (Murray, 2014; McFadden, 2015).
The Dallas Cowboys rushing offense in 2014 finished second in the league with 2,354 yards - the most since rushing for 2,711 in 1981. The Cowboys rushing attack was led by the league’s leading running back, Murray, who rushed for a club-record 1,845 yards on 392 carries (4.7) and 13 touchdowns and took home 2014 Offensive Player of the Year. It was the first time a Cowboy won the NFL rushing title since Emmitt Smith (1,773) in 1995. Brown’s workhorse in the backfield also established a league record after rushing for at least 100 yards in each of the season’s first eight games. For the year, Murray had 12 100-yard performances to set a franchise high. Murray also caught a career-high 57 passes to give him 449 touches on the year - tops in team history and sixth in NFL history.
The 2013 season saw career outputs from running back Murray, who posted 1,471 yards from scrimmage, 1,121 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 10 total touchdowns and a 5.2-yard average under Brown’s tutelage, earning his first Pro Bowl selection. It marked the first time that the Cowboys offense featured a 1,000-yard rusher since the 2006 season and the first Pro Bowl selection at the running back position since 2007. Murray also excelled as a pass catcher in 2013, catching 53 passes out of the backfield, then tied for eighth by a running back in team history.
The Cowboys also received significant contributions from second-year running back Lance Dunbar and rookie Randle, who accounted for 434 yards of total offense and two touchdowns combined. The emergence of mid-season pickup Tyler Clutts at fullback spurred the Cowboys rushing attack late in the season, helping Murray finish third among NFL rushers in rushing yards (693) and touchdowns (six) in the final eight games.
In 2012 Brown worked with rookie running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, marking the highest pick Cleveland had ever used on a running back. Richardson finished the season with 1,317 yards from scrimmage, 950 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 12 total touchdowns and 72 points, all Browns rookie records. In addition, his three 100-yard rushing performances tied a Browns rookie record. Richardson also finished second on the team with 51 receptions, which was fifth by a Browns rookie.
The Browns started three different players at running back in 2011. This included four starts by Chris Ogbonnaya, who began the season on Houston’s practice squad. Ogbonnaya led the team in rushing five times on the year and finished with a 4.6-yard average (73-334) the highest figure for a Brown with more than 70 rushing attempts since Eric Metcalf put together a 4.7 mark (129-611) in 1993.
In 2010 Brown oversaw a backfield led by Peyton Hillis, who joined Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly as the only Browns to record 11-or-more rushing touchdowns in a single-season. Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards, a figure that ranked seventh in the AFC and 11th in the NFL.
In Brown’s first season tutoring the team’s running backs, Jerome Harrison led the club with 862 rushing yards after he had amassed 448 yards in his first three NFL seasons combined. He rushed for 570 yards and five touchdowns on 113 carries (5.0) over the final four games, the second-highest total in the NFL over the final quarter of the season. His total included a Browns single-game record 286 yards at Kansas City (12/20), as he snapped Jim Brown’s previous club mark of 237, which he reached twice.
As a team, the Browns averaged 4.2 yards-per-rush attempt in 2009 and 4.0 in 2010, marking the first time the club has averaged 4.0-or-better in consecutive seasons since 2002-03.
Prior to joining Cleveland, Brown spent six seasons coaching on the collegiate level. He spent the 2008 season as the running backs coach at Rutgers University, where he helped the Scarlet Knights to an 8-5 mark and a victory in the Papajohns.com Bowl. Under Brown’s tutelage, the trio of Kordell Young, Jourdan Brooks and Joe Martinek combined for 1,474 rushing yards, a 4.9-yard average and 15 rushing touchdowns in 2008.
Brown spent two seasons (2006-07) as offensive coordinator at Susquehanna University, where in 2007, sophomore running back Dave Paveletz produced the second-highest single-season rushing total in program history and was named first-team All-Liberty League.
Brown got his start in the coaching profession immediately following an eight-year NFL career as a player when he served as the offensive coordinator at Williamsport (Pa.) Area High School from 2000-02. He then broke into the college ranks as the running backs coach at Lycoming College (2003-05).
In addition to his collegiate positions, Brown also helped coach running backs at N.Y. Giants training camp in 2005, then worked with the Green Bay Packers (2006) and Carolina Panthers (2007) as part of the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship program.
Brown enjoyed a four-year career at Penn State (1987-90), where as a sophomore, he led the Nittany Lions in rushing yards with 689 yards and six touchdowns on 136 carries (5.1 avg.)
A native of Williamsport, Pa., Brown played eight seasons in the NFL (1991-95, 1997-99) after being selected in the eighth round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. In his career, he played for the Oilers (1991-95), Chargers (1997) and Giants (1998-99). During that time he ran for 4,300 yards and 21 touchdowns on 1,023 carries and caught 84 passes for 631 yards and three scores in 99 games. He rushed for 1,000 yards twice, including 1,002 in 1993 and 1,063 yards in 1998. His feat in 1993 was accomplished while playing in just eight games.
Brown went on to earn his degree in sports administration from Lock Haven University in 2005. He and his wife, Kim, have two daughters, Malena and Dorianna, and a son, Tre.