IRVING, Texas -- For the entire week, the Dallas Cowboys starting running back blocked out the noise regarding his game.
Everything suddenly came crashing around DeMarco Murray after a 12 carry, 25-yard performance in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Cowboys didn't run the ball in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 19 consecutive passes.
There were concerns that Murray was turning into a player the Cowboys couldn't count on anymore. ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick, a former NFL personnel director, said Murray doesn't do enough to avoid tacklers. It was an interesting comment considering Murray was 10th in the NFL in breaking tackles last season and isn't considered an elusive runner. Murray is more of a contact runner who has good speed and quickness.
But there was chirping about Murray and whether or not the Cowboys made a mistake drafting him in the third round of the 2011 draft.
"I’m fine. I’m fine," Murray said. "I’m not listening to (critics). You’re never as bad as they think you are or as they say you are, and you’re never as good as they think you are or say you are. I’m just worried about the guys in this locker room, trying to get better every day and we’re going to get things corrected and we’re going to figure it out."
Coach Jason Garrett had to defend Murray all week and said the struggles of the running game, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, were on everybody. Garrett did say the team needed to run it more and become more effective when it does.
"He's mature enough to understand what it's all about at this stage of his career," running backs coach Gary Brown said. "He understands getting a Super Bowl is more important and what that means. We all have a role and if that constitutes were going to throw it a little bit more, then we’re going to roll with that. That’s not a problem."
It seemed to be a problem after the Chiefs game where Murray said he needed some carries to develop a rhythm. Brown and Garrett agreed giving a running back consecutive carries helps. The Cowboys ran it consecutively just twice against the Chiefs.
Hard to get a rhythm there. But you also had to look at Murray himself and whether he missed holes because he didn't see it or just wasn't fast enough to get there.
"When you make the right reads, some of those ugly yards add up," Brown said. "I'm very impressed with him taking what’s given and not trying to get more than what the play is designed for, (and) what the defense is giving you. I think he's matured in that way."
It seems like a long time ago when Murray, in a backup role, rushed for a franchise-record 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams in 2011. Since that performance, he's missed more games due to injury (nine) than he has had 100-yard games (three).
Yet, after that record-breaking Rams game, Murray does have four games with over 90 yards and nine more games with 75 or more yards.
Sunday, the Rams visit AT&T Stadium again and Murray's performance will be viewed closely. This is a year in which Garrett is quick to pull the trigger on poor performances, he benched Murray in the preseason after a fumble and he's on the verge of sitting veteran safety Will Allen for rookie J.J. Wilcox.
Garrett has put people on notice at Valley Ranch.
Does the starting running back feel the pressure? Is he frustrated?
"I’m not frustrated," Murray said. "We’re first in our division right now. We’re doing fine. We just have to continue to get better, but I’m definitely not frustrated."
"I’m blessed," he said. "There’s only one way to be is happy."