Facing scrutiny from the fan base, Latavius Murray is living up to lofty expectations.
In just his third season in Silver and Black, it’s apparent that Latavius Murray is not Marcus Allen or Bo Jackson. Shoot, he is not even Charlie Garner or Napoleon Kaufman. He is Latavius Murray, a driving force behind the Raiders recent success.
There are many fans within RaiderNation who have been displeased with Murray’s production. And considering his skill set, those sentiments may be justified. But Murray has worked to dispel all of the adversity, by putting his nose down and producing.
No, Murray doesn’t rush for 100 yards every game — as matter of fact, he only has five such games in a three-year career. And he hasn’t always bulled through defenders for extra yards like some fans may like. But in 2016, Murray has done a damn good job of being the No.1 ball-carrier in a backfield overcome with talent.
To many, his 2015 Pro Bowl selection — even as a replacement — was unwarranted. Despite rushing for 1006 yards and 6 touchdowns, there were plenty of quarrels. There’s the consistent notion that he is soft, yet numbers show the contrary.
In 2015, Murray racked up 530 yards after contact, ranking him 3rd among 135 qualified running backs. Yet Murray was inconsistent, garnering a paltry 35.82% success rate in his first two years compared to league average of 39.03%.
That’s probably why Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie saw fit to draft DeAndre Washington and kept undrafted back Jalen Richard on the 53-man roster.
Nevertheless, Murray has took the depleted workload in stride, and thrived.
This season, Murray’s managed to surpass his career touchdown totals, with 9 in just as many games. He is currently tied for 4th in touchdowns among all NFL backs, despite having at least 37 less carries. At 205 yards receiving, he is on pace to surpass his career high of 232 in 2015 by a wide margin.
Emphatically known as “Tay-Train”, Murray’s been the conductor for Oakland’s backfield. Of running backs with at least 100 carries, only Cowboys back Ezekiel Elliot has a higher 1st Down Percentage. Of backs with at least 120 carries, only Murray, Jeremy Hill and Devonta Freeman haven’t fumbled.
As great as the ripe duo of Washington and Richard continue to be for Oakland, Murray is the driving force. Those aforementioned 9 touchdowns are the most by a Raider back since LaMont Jordan in 2005, by the way.
Murray is finishing up his rookie contract this season, meaning a tough decision for Oakland come free agency. Aside from backs like Eddie Lacy and Le’Veon Bell, there will be few in the free agency pool better. At only 26 years old, Murray is hitting his stride, with the help of steep competition.
As the saying goes, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and Murray is a back worth having.
Depending on how Murray and the Raiders finish this fairytale season, Murray may get the respect he deserves. But I’m just saying, he might deserve it now before the train takes off to the next stop.