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Instant Debate

Does DeMarco Murray joining Eagles shift NFC East balance of power?

DeMarco Murray has agreed to a five-year contract to join the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving the Dallas Cowboys without the workhorse back they relied on so heavily last season. With the league's leading rusher finding a new home within the division, how does the move affect the balance of power in the NFC East? Have the Eagles become the team to beat?

It's too soon to suggest that Murray signing with the Eagles alters the balance of power in the NFC East, but the move definitely diffuses the potency of the Dallas Cowboys' offense. Murray set the table for the unit one season ago as the premier workhorse runner in football; his success altered how opponents defended Tony Romo and Co. Instead of playing coverage-first schemes, defensive coordinators used more eight-man fronts to slow down the run. This opened up the field for Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten on play-action throws. In addition, the steady production from Murray protected the Cowboys' defense because the team could rely on a ball-control approach to play keep away from their opponents. With fewer overall possessions, the Cowboys' defense was able to compete and win battles against the heavyweights in the NFC. With Murray no longer in the fold, the Cowboys could be exposed as an average squad in 2015.

For the Eagles, the signing gives Chip Kelly another talented runner in the stable. He can creatively adjust his lineups to take advantage of favorable matchups on the ground or in the passing game. With an efficient pocket passer in the fold to complement a dynamic running game -- also bolstered by the addition of Ryan Mathews -- the Eagles' offense can rely on an RB-centric attack to make a run at the NFC East crown. I would say that right now, the Philadelphia Eagles would be the favorites in the NFC East, what with all the moves they've made. I would think they'll have the capability to play pretty good offense. But you've got to remember one thing: This is a game of chess, and the Dallas Cowboys are surely working on a countermove, whether that means acquiring someone who's already in the league or looking to the draft. The offseason isn't over, and the Cowboys will not stop trying to get better. They might land someone who more than makes up for the loss of DeMarco Murray -- say, someone like Adrian Peterson. Jerry Jones is in second place, so to speak, right now, but do not count Jerry Jones out. Knowing his penchant for big moves -- and trading for Peterson would obviously be a big move -- I would expect something to happen still. With the exception of the Sam Bradford trade, Chip Kelly has been masterful to kick off the new league year. By snagging DeMarco Murray away from the Cowboys, Kelly simultaneously struck a huge blow to a division rival -- Murray brought balance to Dallas' offensive attack in 2014, helping Tony Romo achieve the best season of his career -- and found a playmaker who fits his style more than the recently departed LeSean McCoy. Murray will pair nicely with newly signed Ryan Mathews, giving the Eagles a potent 1-2 punch that should make the rest of the NFC East shiver.

Although many people were shocked when Kelly shipped McCoy off to the Bills for Kiko Alonso, the Eagles have since more than addressed the vacancy -- and now they also have one of the best young linebackers in the game! I'm not sure DeMarco Murray affects much in the NFC East. After all, no one expected Dallas to do anything last year, so in order to say this move affected the "balance of power," we are almost assuming the Cowboys are the favorite to repeat. Moreover, Philadelphia just got rid of a running back who, frankly, has been more durable than Murray. Are we really ready to say Murray is a better player than McCoy? Remember who led the NFL in rushing in 2013? It wasn't Murray. It was Shady. This draft is quite deep at running back. Joseph Randle has shown potential (though he has had off-the-field issues). The other backup in Dallas, Lance Dunbar, is an explosive change-of-pace running back. So while the departure of the leading rusher from last season isn't wonderful for the Cowboys, it doesn't mean Dallas can't win. It also doesn't necessarily translate to the Eagles being better.

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