One of the big questions for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2015 NFL season is who will be their leading running back – Joseph Randle or Darren McFadden?
With DeMarco Murray leaving through free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles, it was always going to be up in the air who takes his place. You don’t replace over 1800 rushing yards just like that, but that had a lot to do with the best run blocking offensive line in the league. Can Randle and/or McFadden make up for those “lost” numbers?
The Cowboys could have drafted a running back, but they didn’t. Adrian Peterson’s name has been hovering around, but the Vikings won’t trade him, and maybe it was always more wishful thinking on Peterson’s behalf to play for the team he was a fan of as a kid than anything else. The Cowboys don’t have a star at running back, although that doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.
McFadden does seem washed up after so many injuries. He did play in 16 games last season but rushed for just 534 yards, averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Sure, he has a better offensive line to play behind now, but he hasn’t averaged better than 3.4 since 2011. At the age of 28, after seven seasons in the league and only one year with more than 1000 rushing yards, it’s hard to expect great things from him now.
Randle doesn’t have impressive numbers either, but he’ll be entering his third year. The 23-year old who played for Oklahoma State averaged 6.7 yards per rush last season, finishing with 343 on just 51 carries, also scoring three touchdowns. Many think he has the advantage in this duel, but the Cowboys might simply make it a running back by committee instead of giving just one of them the edge on the depth chart.
McFadden is probably the better pass catcher but it’s still too early to tell if that gives him some sort of edge. After finally making the playoffs and even winning one game, it’ll be interesting to see if the Cowboys can build on that momentum, even with one unproven running back and another that’s pretty close to finding himself out of the league.