Vikings need to ride the Tay-Train with Latavius Murray in 2019

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Latavius Murray
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Latavius Murray /

The front office of the Vikings has some important decisions to make about who to bring back for 2019. Running back Latavius Murray, who has been with the team for two seasons now, may or may not be a priority.

With quarterback Kirk Cousins and receivers one and two (Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs), secured in contract stone, the focus of the college draft and free agency may be primarily in regard to the Vikings’ shaky offensive line, but with Gary Kubiak coming to Minnesota (and assuming what I believe to be control of the 2019 Vikings offense), there is no doubt an emphasis on having a strong and reliable run game will be present.

I do not want to insult Kevin Stefanski fans here. But with Klint Kubiak (Gary Kubiak’s son) coaching the quarterbacks (like Stefanski did last year), the Kids Are Alright. They will have their roles–and their titles–but the old guys are going to run the new install.

If you disagree, I get it…but read this from a guy who’s been around Kubiak a long time.

Coach Kubiak uses the run to set up the pass. If the running game is successful, the offense is successful. If you want to see these numbers, they are easy enough to be found.

Latavius Murray’s career 4.1 yards per carry average may not jump off the stat sheet, but considering Murray is six-foot-three and 235 pounds, I really like the idea of him fitting into Kubiak’s (and new offensive line coach Rick Dennison’s) zone running scheme. Basically, a “one-cut and north” attitude that wears down a defensive line and opens up the play-action passing.

Yes, I’m simplifying here. But I want to keep the emphasis on Murray’s power and size. Tough yards is what this Viking offense needs, not jump cuts, not spin moves, not even well-designed touch passes to the back in the flat.

Punch. Thrust. Pummel. Slam. Or as center Pat Elflein has declared, “beef pounding”.

In 2011, Kubiak and Dennison (head coach and OC of the Houston Texans respectively, rode RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate for over 2000 yards on the ground.  In 2015, they both moved to Denver in a Super Bowl season and designed an offense which enabled boilerplate backs like Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson to amass nearly 1600 yards from the backfield.

In 2018, Minnesota Vikings’ running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray combined to run for just 1195 yards on the entire season, with the team finishing 30th in the NFL in rushing yards.

Murray wants to be a starting running back in this league. I don’t think something like that matters to the coaches coming in here. Murray, if resigned, will most likely get the opportunity to touch the ball as much as Cook. Considering he’s proven to be a more durable back, that should be worth cash money.

In the running back three and four positions, Roc Thomas seems to have screwed up his chance to remain with the team after a recent incident with police, and Mike Boone has hardly proved physically durable enough to be relied on. A stronger argument for Murray returning.

A few running back free agents are intriguing, as both Detroit’s LeGarrette Blount and New Orleans’ Mark Ingram appear to be available, but I would choose Murray over both of them with price and value in deliberation.

Related Story. Vikings offseason plan for running backs. light

Meaning, I’ll ride with the Tay-Train in 2019.  I hope the brass of the Vikings brings him back. He and Dalvin Cook have the talent to create a true “thunder and lightning” tandem that has not been seen in Minnesota since backs LeRoy Hoard and Robert Smith stamped and sliced up opposing defenses 20 years ago.

That’s the idea, and Latavius Murray fits it.