No need to introduce the St. Louis defense to DeMarco Murray.
In his two previous games against the Rams, he’s run for 253 and 175 yards, which sounds more like somebody found the cheat codes on Madden than real football.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said last week, “because it seems like yesterday that that mess happened in Dallas last year.”
The Cowboys beat Fisher’s team in Arlington 31-7 a year ago, when Murray ran for 175 yards and Tony Romo passed for three touchdowns.
That afternoon was supposed to be an epiphany for coach Jason Garrett and his offensive staff, the game when the seas parted and a voice from heaven thundered, “Run the football, stupids!”
Except they didn’t. The next time that Murray rushed 20 or more times in a game was in the season’s next-to-last week in Washington.
Old habits die hard.
It seems unlikely, however, that anything will matter more to the St. Louis defense Sunday than stopping Murray.
Six defenders in the box? Seven? Fisher’s new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams — yes, that Gregg Williams — likes to play a heavy hand.
Williams was the alleged originator of the alleged bounty pool that Roger Goodell, an alleged real commissioner, accused the New Orleans Saints of operating, allegedly between 2009 and 2011.
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In the NFL, it seems, you can punch a woman and only get a two-game suspension. But if you coach a defense that tackles a quarterback a little too hard, Goodell will suspend you for an entire season, as he did Williams in 2012.
It’s doubtful, therefore, that there will be any bounty on Romo’s head Sunday. Romo’s quarterbacking has been foggy enough as it is.
But, lo and behold, it’s epiphany time again. Last weekend’s run-intensive 26-10 win over the Tennessee Titans has stirred the Ground Garrett talk again.
Well, we’ll see.
Based upon the first two weeks, the Rams don’t seem capable of stopping Romo, Murray, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten either way.
Rams starting quarterback Sam Bradford of Oklahoma wrecked his knee in the preseason and is lost for the year. His planned replacement, Shaun Hill, has a quadriceps strain and practiced only sparingly last week after missing the Tampa Bay game.
St. Louis, therefore, may well start its No. 3 quarterback, Austin Davis, against the Cowboys. In two games this season, with Hill and Davis at quarterback, the Rams have scored only one touchdown.
A week ago in Tennessee, the Titans performed like one of the AFC’s worst teams. And now along come the Rams with a third-string quarterback.
Might as well run the ball and control the clock again, in other words, if you’re the Cowboys. No need to get any fancier than that.
After the Rams’ 34-6 loss — at home — to open the season, Fisher complained of his defense having “tackling issues.”
Defensive end Robert Quinn told reporters before hosting the Cowboys, “We definitely have to be sound in our tackling and keep him in the box, so that our defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties can come down and fill the box and keep him from popping big plays.
“I think we’re definitely more than ready for the challenge. We think we know what we’re going to get.”
You can call it a running epiphany for the Cowboys, therefore, if you want. You can sit back and see DeMarco run, and shout, “Told ya so” at the TV.
It’s probably going to be, though, just another afternoon where Romo can get his feet back under him, where Rod Marinelli’s defense can afford to grow slowly, and where the Cowboys won’t have to do much more than keep things simple.
That’s not to say that Garrett and his team won’t be satisfied with that.