NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Running back DeMarco Murray was flying high when he joined the Eagles last offseason, but in his lone season in Philadelphia, he came back down to earth.
Chip Kelly, his coach with the Eagles last season, offered an explanation from the NFL owners meetings. Kelly also believes Murray has a bounce-back year in him in Tennessee with the Titans, who traded for the sixth-year pro at the start of free agency.
Kelly and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett each spoke highly of Murray when quizzed by Titans Online at the owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla.
"I think DeMarco is really talented,'' said Kelly, now head coach with the 49ers. "We faced him when he was in Dallas, and I saw him daily, and I think he has a really good skill set.
"DeMarco was banged up a little early (in 2015), and I don't think we got 100 percent of DeMarco. I hope that's what Tennessee gets, because he's a hell of a football player."
A third-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2011, Murray was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year after leading the NFL and setting Cowboys franchise records in rushing yards (1,845), and scrimmage yards (2,261) in 2014. Murray scored 13 touchdowns on 392 carries in 2014, an average of 115.3 yards per game. He posted 12 100-yard games in 2014.
In his lone season with the Eagles, Murray ran for 702 yards and six touchdowns on just 193 carries.
Garrett knows Murray well.
In his opinion, the Titans improved themselves significantly by trading for him. The Titans landed Murray by swapping fourth-round picks with the Eagles.
"I have a great deal respect for DeMarco,'' Garrett said from the owners meetings. "He was a really good player for us during his four years with the Cowboys. I have great respect for him as a player, great respect for him as a man.
"He is going to do a great job in Tennessee. Mike Mularkey is an outstanding coach, and I think he is going to fit in that system really well. It's a good fit for both the player and the team."
Garrett said he's not sure why Murray didn't have the same success in Philadelphia in 2015 compared to his years in Dallas. In addition to Murray, the Eagles also had running backs Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Some believe the division of carries might not have impacted Murray as much as a change in what the Eagles asked him to do.
With the Cowboys, Murray did most his damage running in between the tackles. The Eagles didn't take the same approach on offense with Murray.
"I don't really want to evaluate that part of it,'' Garrett said. "I just know when we were around him for four years, he was a really good player and he was a helluva person. He always went about it the right way. I think Tennessee is fortunate to have him."
Running back DeMarco Murray arrives at Saint Thomas Sports Park to sign his contract. (Photos: Gary Glenn)