Saturday evening could signal an ending of the Oakland Raiders’ 2016-2017 season. Unfortunately, recent play forced them to play on the road. NRG Stadium could be the final stand for Latavius Murray wearing an Oakland Raiders jersey. Entering 2016, that notion seemed acceptable. His running style were a source of frustration for many. Spending the last eighteen months, imploring him to run with urgency. In 2016, Murray found his stride, anger and finishing prowess. With Houston’s defense battered by injuries, the fate of the Oakland Raiders postseason hopes could rest on his shoulders.
Mr. Hyde: Although Murray ran for over a thousand yards in 2015, those runs failed to make any lasting impression on the hearts and minds of Oakland Raiders’ fans. On the other hand, Murray’s 2016 campaign is a testament to a rebirth. He provided that long-awaited glimpse into what a lead back is. The following video explicitly demonstrates Murray’s evolution. Initially, focus on him, but also observe the first tackler and the response.
Fresh Legs: Stamina or durability should not serve as an issue for Murray in this postseason. His 195 carries and 33 catches will help him in doing what the Raiders offense needs. With Carr sidelined, Murray must see the ball 15 to 20 times, hopefully later in the game. Defenders lack the spring in their hips to make jarring tackles with ten minutes remaining.
As an illustration: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MurrLa00/splits/2016 Thirty-one percent of Murray’s total carries occur in the fourth quarter. Versus Houston, this winning trend must continue. Houston’s defense will attack the line of scrimmage. After chasing, Richard and Washington, fatigue will set in. This is where those four yards carries before halftime turn into twelve yard gallops.
Paycheck: Scoring twelve touchdowns in less than two hundred carries venturing into unrestricted free agency, Murray wants to get paid. Who can blame him? Taking hits as a job does not seem fun. Making slightly more than the league minimum for a rusher of Murray’s skills is temporary. Similarly, Houston overpaid for RB Lamar Miller after one thousand yard season in Miami. The Oakland Raiders need to ride their running game. If he truly has one foot out of the door, let that foot be in the end zone in February.