IRVING, Texas – DeMarco Murray's hot start is dominating the news cycle, and it will continue to as long as he's ripping off 100-yard efforts.
For the guy calling the plays, the Cowboys' commitment to the run is anything but new. Scott Linehan said the ground game was one of the main selling points from coach Jason Garrett when he took the coordinator position in Dallas all the way back in January.
"He said 'the No. 1 thing we're going to do is we're going to get this run game like the old days,'" Linehan said of Garrett. "He was thinking of the days when he was wearing a uniform here. That was loud and clear, and we were all-in, I was all-in from the get-go."
Garrett had a front-row seat to as good a rushing attack as there's been in the NFL, as he watched Emmitt Smith run to NFL rushing titles, Super Bowls and Pro Bowls from 1993-99. During that time span, Smith ran behind Dallas' formidable offensive line for an average of 323 carries and 1,392 yards per season.
"I'm sure in his mind that was what he envisioned as a coach – he saw it at its ultimate best. But it's not always easy to do," Linehan said.
It might not be easy, but the Cowboys have made it look easy through six weeks. As has been well-documented, Murray's individual average and the team rushing average are best in the league – by a wide margin. Murray is on pace to run for 2,093 yards, which would be 320 yards better than Smith's best single-season effort.
In that regard, Linehan said the key to success is commitment. In a departure from recent seasons, the Cowboys have maintained their run-heavy gameplan throughout all sorts of circumstances. Despite a 21-0 deficit against St. Louis, Murray finished with 24 carries for 100 yards. He got 35 total touches in Seattle despite an early 10-0 hole.
"I just think it falls on Scott. Scott doesn't get rattled if we're up by 50 or down by 50, he has a great mindset of what he wants to do and what we should do," Murray said. "Give Scott credit. He does a great job of calling plays. We just try to execute them as best as possible."[embeddedad0]
Only time will tell if the Cowboys can maintain their torrid start. They play their first division game this weekend. With Seattle being dethroned last weekend, the NFL's best run defense is now Arizona, and the Cardinals visit the Cowboys in just three weeks.
Regardless, don't expect the gameplan to change.
"There's going to be days where it's hard sledding out there, but you've got to stay with it and you can't bail on that thought or that idea," Linehan said. "So, guys have done a great job of buying into that, and we've got to keep doing that if we want to have success we've been able to have early in the season."