This isn't what DeMarco Murray signed up for

LANDOVER, Md. - DeMarco Murray is a star. He dresses the part.

He carefully tightened the knot of his beige tie. It formed a perfect dimple over his tailored, patterned shirt, and it nicely set off his tailored blue suit. The ensemble radiated glamour in the crowded, smelly visitor's locker room.

These, as it turns out, are Murray's fighting clothes.

No longer will he play the good soldier.

No longer will he keep his mouth shut.

This was his Keyshawn Johnson moment; his Jonathan Papelbon declaration.

Poll

Should the Eagles give DeMarco Murray the ball more?

It came after Murray, who did not start the 23-20 loss to Washington, busted a 30-yard run on the first play of the Eagles' second possession . . . then was abandoned down the stretch when the Birds had the ball and lead.

"We ran it well. We blocked it well. The receivers blocked it well downfield," he said of the big play, eyes forward; then, adjusting his tie again, Murray glanced sideways and growled: "We could have stuck with it a little bit more."

That's how it began.

Asked to clarify if that was a complaint that general manager/head coach/playcaller Chip Kelly should use him more, Murray, who ran just eight times for a total of 36 yards, made things crystal clear:

"Do I think I'm touching the ball enough? No, I'm not. I don't think I am. It's how the plays are being called . . .

"I knew what I was coming in here to do. I knew that I was going to be the guy."

Hear the echoes of Keyshawn there? Just give me the damn ball.

Remember Pap's pearl? I definitely didn't come here for this.

This isn't "For who? For what?" It is, however, remarkable.

"Us as players - we're here for a reason," Murray said. "We have to get more opportunities. We've got to get the ball in the playmakers' hands and let them have fun."

By "playmakers," Murray is not referring to Miles Austin.

Certainly, it's not much "fun" getting 29 carries in his three games, all losses for the 1-3 Eagles. It's not fun watching teammates fail when you need to keep the ball late in the game.

Murray was the Eagles' biggest offseason commitment - a five-year, $42 million commitment, $21 million of which is guaranteed. Unlike his predecessor, LeSean McCoy, Murray has never been accused of being a selfish malcontent.

Shady never dressed like this, either.

To be clear: Murray, the reigning NFL rushing champion, believes to his core that a greater commitment to a running game that features DeMarco Murray will make the Birds better. That is why he is speaking out.

Murray said he will not seek to address the issue with Kelly.

Rest assured: Kelly will address the issue with him.

In that meeting, Murray will explain that, in his mind, if he gets the ball more it will serve to keep the offense on the field; it will serve to protect quarterback Sam Bradford; it will serve to allow a battered offensive line a greater chance to succeed; it will serve to run out the clock late in close games.

In all but the last belief, Murray is wrong.

Murray now has 47 yards on those 29 rushes in his three games this season.

Last season, he rushed at least 29 times in four different games.

Last season, he gained more than 47 yards in every game.

Then again, last season Murray ran behind the league's best offensive line, alongside Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, with the league's best receiver, Dez Bryant, freezing fearful defensive secondaries.

This season Murray runs behind a tattered and undermanned line, next to Bradford, whose best target is second-year possession receiver Jordan Matthews.

It doesn't help that Murray is not speaking from a position of strength. Not only is he averaging 1.6 yards per carry, Murray also missed Game 3 last week against the Jets with a hamstring injury, the latest in his litany of ailments.

In Murray's absence, backup Ryan Mathews drilled the stout Jets defense for 108 yards on 25 carries. Mathews simply appears to be a more explosive runner. He got five carries yesterday, for 20 yards. Afterward, he did not complain.

Certainly, when Murray called Kelly in the offseason to discuss his defection from Dallas, he certainly did not expect to carry the ball 392 times, as the Cowboys forced him to do in his contract year.

Murray also knew Mathews would get some touches; that Darren Sproles would, too. But he figured in Kelly's run-first culture, Mathews would be a backup; Sproles, an occasional oddity.

But he, DeMarco Murray, signed the big deal to be the lead dog.

After four games, he's in the doghouse.

After his big run yesterday, he ran the ball just seven more times. He gained 6 yards.

He watched rookie receiver Nelson Agholor fumble away a gimmicky reverse toss. He watched Bradford get sacked on second-and-6. He watched Bradford throw on each play of a crucial three-and-out late in the third quarter.

Perhaps most infuriatingly, near midfield, with a 20-16 lead, Murray gained 3 yards . . . then watched Sproles get the call on second-and-7 near midfield, for 2 yards. Bradford threw incomplete on the next play, and the Birds punted.

A four-point lead, seven minutes to play on the road? That is Murray time. That is why he is an Eagle.

The Birds punted. Washington drove 90 yards for the winning score. Murray watched that, too.

Afterward, he admitted he was "frustrated . . . pissed."

Asked what he expected his weekly workload to be, Murray demurred: "I don't know."

More than 29 carries in three games?

"Yeah."

This is not a case of unfamiliarity with a new offense.

"I've always understood the offense and how it's being been blocked," Murray said.

It also is not a case of Murray leaving "meat on the bone," as a Cowboys teammate and a Cowboys legend said he did last season in Dallas. Murray just thinks he should be fed more often; as in, when the lead needs protecting, late, on the road.

"We've just got to find ways to get different guys the ball," Murray said.

To be clear: Guys who are named DeMarco Murray.

"Every guy has to look in the mirror and take accountability for their actions," Murray said. "I'm the first to do it. At all times."

Not this time.

This time, when Murray looks into the mirror he does not see a dapper man wearing a beige tie.

He sees a fourth-quarter loss. He sees himself excluded.

He sees Chip Kelly.


On Twitter: @inkstainedretch

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