The DC Times

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By Jonathan Bales

Felix Jones Already Cowboys’ Starting RB

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Chris Mortensen is reporting that Felix Jones has already moved to #1 on the Cowboys’ depth chart for this weekend’s mini-camp.  The move isn’t as surprising as the timing.  We knew Jones would ultimately snatch the starting gig, but we didn’t think it would come this quickly.

Nonetheless, it is a good sign.  The Cowboys have been known to let veteran players keep their jobs perhaps a little too long in recent years.  This move, along with the releases of Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin, show that the Cowboys are committed to starting the player they deem the best at each position–regardless of his tenure.

Of course, running backs are rotated in such a way that whoever starts is almost irrelevant.  What matters is carry distribution.

In 2009, Marion Barber received 54.3 percent of the regular season carries among running backs.  Jones garnered 29.5 percent, while Choice checked in with the remaining 16.2 percent.

So how will offensive coordinator Jason Garrett distribute the carries in 2010?  In our “Grading the ‘Boys: Running Backs” segment (a good read, by the way), we proposed the Cowboys spread out the touches this season as follows:

  • Felix Jones: 50 percent
  • Tashard Choice: 30 percent
  • Marion Barber: 20 percent

In that article, we said:

“Some may argue that we have given up on Barber too quickly, but now is not the time to wait on players.  The Cowboys are built to win now, and the most productive players should play.

These percentages could be attained by starting Jones and letting him play two series for each of Tashard Choice’s one. We would also use Tashard Choice on short-yardage runs, including a bit more Wildcat.  Barber would come in to spell Jones and Choice, particularly on third down, and to finish out games. In baseball, closers are only successful because they haven’t pitched all game.  The same is true for Marion Barber.  By saving his energy, he could effectively return to the “closer” role, creating the most efficient Dallas Cowboys backfield possible.”

The numbers we gathered in that study support our proposed role for each Dallas’ running back.  It will be interesting to see how Garrett utilizes each player come September.

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13 Responses to Felix Jones Already Cowboys’ Starting RB

  1. john coleman says:

    Let’s hope it is at least 33,33,33. Barber needs to be the punisher, when a defense is sucking for wind. My picture would be 45, 35,20, with Jones, then Choice, Then Barber. I don’t want to wear Felix out early. He strikes fear in a defense, and down the stretch that will be huge. This team with Jones,Austin, and Bryant is the most explosive team we have had in years. BTW what do you think about the Gronkowski kid? From what I can gather, he is a solid blocker and a good/great receiver. The second coming of the Moose. A receiving threat at FB is another weapon.

  2. Your proposes distribution is nearly identical to ours, so we would have no qualms about it. In a perfect world, we would actually want Barber to get MORE carries (as long as he remains in the role we have described) because that means the Cowboys are up late in games.

    As far as Gronkowski, I still think he has an uphill climb. His future is tied to Deon Anderson’s. If Anderson gets released, John Phillips has proven he is not yet ready to handle FB-type blocking duties, and Gronkowski will make the team. If Anderson stays, there’s no room.

    Of course, Gronkowski could also make it with a stellar camp, but I personally think Deon Anderson is wayyyy underrated. He is actually an important component of the offense.

  3. Gerardo aldape says:

    I think that was the best thing they could have done. Felix is powerful and also very quick on his feet. That’s good thinking by the coaches.

  4. john coleman says:

    A little off the point, but I feel this is by far the best team/group of players we have had in years. IMO oline depth is the only question. The safety position is adequate as is. If we get a so called playmaker at FS it only makes us better yet. We have minor needs at CB depth, and unproven depth at ILB/OLB. But if guys stay healthy the depth could already be there. A future QB in the pipeline would be nice. I’m taking for granted that the kicker situation, is not a problem. I am stoked for the season. I don’t think the division has gotten better either, with the exception of Washington. They are about 4 wins better.

  5. Chris says:

    Yah, I too think the team is poised to run over this devision; oline pending. That is the one area that really concerns me. I guess the FO knows better than me though. I just hope we make a trade or pick up a FA because right now, if anyone gets hurt we’re in serious trouble. It doesn’t matter how many playmakers you have if you can’t protect the QB or open up holes in the run game. It would be a shame to waste Felix, Austin, Witten, Williams and Bryant

  6. John, from a pure talent standpoint, I think the 2008 team was was actually the best. From a TEAM and chemistry standpoint, this team is of course superior.

  7. The starters right now are better than just about anyone’s. Every team has concerns about depth, but like you Chris, the O-Line depth frightens me.

  8. moses says:

    I just hope Jones will hold up throughout the season. He runs a little high and does not seem to have the power to break a lot of tackles.
    Hopefully Choice will be given some extra carries too.

  9. Yeah, we will see how Jones holds up. I do think he has the ability to break tackles, though.

    You can pretty much bet anything that Choice will receive more carries than last season. If he doesn’t receive at least 20 percent of the overall carries, there is a problem.

  10. moses says:

    Maybe it was just a fluke, but Jones seems to have a hard time staying healthy. I certainly hope he doesn’t turn into a Reggie Bush type player that is used as a speed threat on the outside.

    I wonder if Barber is coming to the end of his career. He has a punishing style and a big heart. He takes a lot of hits and after a while it really wears on the body.

    At a certain point the Cowboys will need a 3rd back when Barber leaves and Choice moves up.

  11. Felix and Bush and similar in some ways, but much different in others. Bush has more lateral quickness and is a better receiver. Felix is a much better runner between the tackles and does a better job of getting up-field. Both are more important to their offenses than people realize.

    Jones may be the most important player on the offense this season (other than Romo of course).

  12. Pingback: Fantasy Football: The Myth of Overworked Running Backs - NFL Super Bowl Live Online

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