Murray rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in Sunday's 24-16 win over Baltimore. Murray put Minnesota up by two scores midway through the third quarter when he burst up the middle and zig-zagged his way to a 29-yard touchdown. The touchdown was not only his first of the season, but it came with more yards than Murray had recorded in five of the preceding six games. Murray also had a 35-yard gainer during the contest. The big-bodied back has been quiet behind Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon for much of this season but has now averaged 16 touches per game in the three weeks since Cook went down with a season-ending ACL tear. He finally, on Sunday, flashed some of the big-play ability he showed during his years in Oakland and might have put himself in position to take some touches from McKinnon.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer hinted that Murray will continue to have a significant role, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The wide gulf between Murray's production and Jerick McKinnon's has led to some speculation that the former Raider could essentially fall out of the offensive game plan. The Vikings seemingly aren't quite ready to take that step, but Murray needs to improve quickly or else the team won't have much choice. He's gained only 80 yards on 30 touches (three catches) in two games since Dalvin Cook (knee) suffered a season-ending knee injury, while McKinnon has piled up 245 yards and three touchdowns on 43 touches (11 catches). However, McKinnon has fumbled three times the past three weeks, after making it through the first 45 games of his career without a single fumble. His robust production nonetheless figures to outweigh the statistical oddity when the team evaluates its backfield, particularly if McKinnon stays hot in Sunday's matchup with the Ravens. Anyway you slice it, Murray is in danger of seeing his role reduced in the coming weeks.
Murray gained 28 yards on 15 rushes and brought in his only target for nine yards in Sunday's 23-10 win over the Packers. For the second consecutive week since Dalvin Cook went down with a season-ending knee injury, Murray looked wholly ineffective, especially when compared alongside backfield mate Jerick McKinnon. Murray, who by his own admission does not feel fully recovered from offseason ankle surgery, has visibly had difficulty kicking it into second gear and making defenders miss, as his 2.2 yards per carry over 27 totes in the last pair of contests attests. McKinnon has also garnered more carries in each of the last two games, although the split between the two has been nearly even. Now that head coach Mike Zimmer has some sample size to evaluate, the division of labor could well be adjusted in McKinnon's favor beginning with a Week 7 home battle against the Ravens.
Murray had 12 carries for 31 yards and two receptions for 12 yards in Monday's 20-17 win at Chicago. However, Jerick McKinnon had 16 carries for 96 yards. Murray entered the game as the starter at running back and looked set to be the primary ball carrier after Dalvin Cook's season-ending knee injury. However, McKinnon showed more of a spark Monday, and the Vikings stuck with the hot hand. McKinnon may become the primary ball carrier as a result, but the two could still split carries.
Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur believes Murray can replace Dalvin Cook (knee) as a high-volume runner, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Jerick McKinnon should handle most of the pass-catching workload and some of the carries out of the backfield, but the Vikings have made it clear Murray will get the first crack at replacing Cook as the lead runner. While the former Raider is unlikely to match Cook's average of 21.3 touches per game, something in the range of 15-to-20 touches isn't out of the question. It remains to be seen if Murray will be effective with those opportunities, as he recently admitted that he still isn't all the way back at full strength after having ankle surgery in March. Murray has gained only 38 yards on 14 carries this season, and he'll start his tenure as the lead back with a Monday Night Football matchup against a Chicago defense that's allowing just 3.5 yards per carry and 85.5 rushing yards per game. The Bears do have a clear weakness at inside linebacker due to a combination of injuries and suspensions, however.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|11||11/19||Los Angeles Rams||31||21.43|
|16||12/24||@Green Bay Packers||28||20.57|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||181||759||7||30||213||0||136|