Latavius Murray 2015 Predictions

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May 26, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) carries the ball at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Latavius Murray is a polarizing player, but not in the traditional sense. Most of last season, fans were calling for Murray to be given a shot when McFadden and Jones-Drew weren’t cutting it. Coaching staff members kept saying he wasn’t ready, but always talked about his incredible talent.

Week after week, the losses were stacking up, the Raiders were putting together one of the worst rushing campaigns in league history, and still Latavius Murray was on the bench. Getting limited snaps on game day. When asked about him by the media, the coaching staff just kept dancing around the subject, saying he wasn’t ready yet.

Finally, after a Week 11 loss to the Chargers, the coaching staff was forced to make a change after Murray racked up 43 rushing yards on four attempts off the bench. Doubling starting running back Darren McFadden’s total yards on half of the carries. The coaching staff was forced to respond, and in the following Monday press conference, and through the week, it finally started to look like Murray would be given the opportunity to take the bulk of the carries.

Thursday, November 12th, 2014: It was a nasty, rainy day in the Bay Area. The Raiders were hosting the division rival Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. Murray had come in early to replace McFadden, then Derek Carr went under center on 1st and 10. Carr could see the goal line, only eleven yards away, but standing in the way was a Chiefs’ Defense that hadn’t given up a rushing touchdown all season. Carr takes the snap, hands off to Murray who cuts to the outside and scampers untouched for 11 yards for a Raiders touchdown and Murray is officially on the map, but is not done yet for the night.

Fast forward to early in the second quarter, Raiders are back on their own 10 yard line. Carr hands off to Murray, a quick cutback to the left and again Murray is gone. This time for 90 yards, untouched in the longest run of the season for Oakland during the 2014 season in perhaps their biggest game of the season to end the winless streak on Thursday Night Football.

I know, we all know how it happened, but I like to relive to fun parts of the season as much as I can. Murray would end up leaving the game after suffering a concussion. The only effective running the Raiders had after that, would be Marcel Reece who took control of the final drive setting up Derek Carr’s game winning touchdown to James Jones in the back of the end zone.

After this game, Murray’s statlines looked like something out of a Madden game. He was averaging something like 20 yards per carry, his touchdown to carry ratio was off the chart, the list goes on. Some people were comparing his physical abilities to that of Bo Jackson, and others were saying the sample size was too small to warrant him getting more touches. To that I say as Captain Obvious, pump the breaks to everyone.

One, Bo Jackson was a once in a lifetime physical talent, if someone with his physical gifts were to come along, I highly doubt he’d be on a bench anywhere for any reason. Two, you don’t get a larger sample size by sitting on the bench. Murray had the hot hand, and after coming back from his concussion his stats tapered off to something more reasonable. And while he may not have broke off any more 90 yard runs, he was still incredibly effective, and while his numbers may not have supported that as much, his presence in the back field forced defenses to respect the Raiders run game. With Murray in the lineup, it made the team less one dimensional.

So what does 2015 hold after a strong finish to last season for the Raiders running back? Here are my thoughts on 2015 for Latavius Murray.

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