IRVING, Texas – The rivalry between the Cowboys and Eagles was already one of the NFL's best, but it's certainly trending toward the top in the past six months.
It's fuel enough that the two teams have swapped division titles in the last two seasons, and the Eagles' additions of DeMarco Murray and Miles Austin in March certainly took the feud to a new level.
As if that wasn't interesting enough, Joseph Randle stole headlines around the league on Wednesday when he said that Murray had "left meat on the bone" during his 1,845-yard season last fall. It prompted a response from Murray, and it threw the Dallas-Philly rivalry back into the spotlight just in time for the start of summer.
The comments of the last week prompt a variety of reactions, so the staff of DallasCowboys.com wanted to sound off. Who exactly is in the right in this spat?
Nick Eatman: This thing can be interpreted so many ways, and since it's late May, it's usually blown out of proportion more than it should be. I think this is what happened here. I really don't think Randle was taking a shot at DeMarco Murray. Let's not forget that Jason Garrett and these coaches are trying to remind these players over and over about starting at the bottom again and forgetting about 2014. To me, Randle was pointing out that while Murray had a "good" season (that might have been the biggest shot at Murray), he's saying there was more work left to do. I think Murray would've said the exact same thing if he were still here. Personally, I don't think he was saying Murray left yards on the field every game. I think he's saying if the No. 1 back rushed for 1,835 yards in 2014, there's no reason why the No. 1 back can't push for 2,000 yards this year. Now, Murray's comments took the whole thing to another level. Let's not forget the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State rivalry is called the "Bedlam Series." Apparently it still lives long after the two have left the state. But before we pit these two against each other, let's not forget we could see a battle of Darren McFadden and Ryan Mathews when the two teams "meat" up in Week 2.
David Helman: The NFL played its first season 94 years ago, and in that time span only 16 other running backs have tallied a higher total than DeMarco Murray in 2014. That's the standard Joseph Randle set himself against when he said there was "a lot of meat left on the bone" last fall. If you want to be a stickler, you could point out Murray's fumbling problems or the fact that he ended a decent number of runs earlier than he had to. He still toted the rock roughly 400 times, added another 50 receptions and finished with more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage. If that qualifies as leaving meat on the bone, then I'm eager to see what Joseph Randle is capable of doing in 2015. Even after his momentous season, I'm not willing to call Murray the top running back in the NFL – but I think his production will be far harder to replace than many seem to be giving credit for. Randle and his teammates in the backfield have a lot to prove in the effort to replace Murray, and I'm not going to give them the benefit of the doubt on blind faith alone. The Dallas-Philadelphia rivalry didn't need any extra juice, but Randle certainly gave it to us – and Murray took it up a notch when he responded in kind. Regardless of who wins the top job in training camp, it's just another reason why I'm beyond excited for the rivalry to renew in Week 2.
Rob Phillips:Personally, it's hard for me to say a guy left yards on the field when he beat the league's second-ranked rusher (Le'Veon Bell) by about 500 yards and gained about 1,000 of his 1,845 yards after contact. If there's one area DeMarco Murray lacked, it was home run speed, and that's where maybe he gained 15 yards on some runs that could've gone for 25 or 30. But – and this is very important – the guy who gets the majority of the carries this year, whether it's Randle or somebody else, must be able to replicate Murray's "dirty runs" in short yardage, as Jason Garrett calls them. Those 3rd and 2's, 3rd and 3's kept drives going and kept defenses honest defending Tony Romo. Maybe Randle can be that type of physical, durable back. The thing is, no one's seen enough evidence yet either way. He averaged three carries per game last year and had the benefit of coming in fresh against typically tired opposing defenses. Randle does hit the hole faster than Murray, and from a pure talent perspective the Cowboys are excited about what he can do behind this offensive line. The "meat left on the bone" line made headlines, but the best thing Randle said was admitting he has to earn "Tony's trust." That means he understands there's more to his job than running the ball. It's pass protection, too, and by saying that he was also acknowledging Murray's proficiency in that area.
Bryan Broaddus: I wrote for DallasCowboys.com on Thursday that I didn't believe that Joseph Randle was out of line for his comments about DeMarco Murray and how there were snaps where he left yards on the field. Like Randle, I mean no disrespect to the type of season that Murray had, as well as his accomplishments. It was a remarkable year and no doubt will be remembered as one of the greats in Dallas Cowboys history. The point that Randle was making in my opinion was more about those runs where Murray was clear of the line and into the second level, only to be tackled before he had a chance to extend the carry. I studied the same film as Randle and said it to myself plenty of times: if Murray had more of a burst or long speed, his rushing totals would have been right there with the greatest of all-time. Both Randle and I are only commenting on what we had seen with our own eyes and for anyone to get knocked out of shape for those observations is truly missing the point. DeMarco Murray's season was amazing in every sense of the word but it also could have been legendary.