The plan at running back for the Oakland Raiders to start the 2016 season hasnâ€™t gone even remotely as expected. Despite Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio openly stating during the preseason that Latavius Murray would be the go-to option in the running game, according to the teamâ€™s official website, that hasnâ€™t alwaysÂ been the case.
“We saw him last year,” Del Rio said. “We have a body of work under Latavius. For us the bigger question coming in was to find out who would be able to be the backup back for us. Obviously, we didnâ€™t feed him tonight. We gave him two carries and that was it for the night. So, no. I think for us, we wanted to make sure we gave the two young guys an opportunity to run with the first group and give them that exposure in this third game.”
It made sense at the time, right? The Raiders had to figure out who was going to spell their featured back in Murray. Unfortunately, thereâ€™s a big difference between just giving your starter a rest, and basically taking his job away from him entirely. For Del Rio, itâ€™s been more about taking Murrayâ€™s job than easing other running backs in around him through the first four games.
While Murray has led the Raiders in rushing through four games with 172 yards, heâ€™s done it with just 40 attempts. He has scored three touchdowns (which has basically saved fantasy owners)Â while averaging 4.3 yards per carry. The real issueÂ is that DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are running wild when given the opportunity.
For Washington, heâ€™s totaled 147 yards on 23 carries (6.4 yards per carry). Richard, on the other hand, has averaged a ridiculous 8.5 yards per carry on 17 attempts, good for 133 yards, while scoring a touchdown as well.To go along with the strong play of the other two running backs,
To go along with the strong play of the other two running backs, Murrayâ€™s production over each of the first four games has hit a steady decline, which is obviously discouraging. Hereâ€™s how his rushing numbers have looked to date:
- Week 1 vs. Saints: 14 attempts, 59 yards, one touchdown
- Week 2 vs. Falcons: 8 attempts, 57 yards, one touchdown
- Week 3 vs. Titans: 10 attempts, 37 yards, one touchdown
- Week 4 vs. Ravens: 8 attempts, 19 yards
In the second game against the Falcons, Murray did catch six passes for 44 yards. Seeing the rushing totals decline like that, and hit a final line of 19 rushing yards is obviously not a good sign.
Murrayâ€™s play says one thing, but the play of Washington and Richard mayÂ be what really makes the difference in the end. Itâ€™s hard to not ride the hot hand when itâ€™sÂ been as productive as those two rookies have been. Sooner than later, Del Rio is going to have to make a move. That move very well may wind up happening after Week 5 as well, since ESPNâ€™s Adam Schefter reported that Murray is doubtful to play this Sunday.
Stay tuned, as Murrayâ€™s status for Week 5 alone could be enough for Murray to, unfortunately, lose that starting jobÂ thatÂ heâ€™s been barely holding onto.