Why is Felix Jones returning kickoffs?
Although it isn’t certain, it appears as though Felix Jones will return kicks of the Cowboys in Washington on Sunday night. In my opinion, this is the wrong move for Dallas.
Outside of the fact that Jones figures to handle a fairly heavy workload at running back this season, he simply isn’t that good of a return man. He does have tremendous straight-line speed, but he isn’t natural when back deep. He hasn’t shown the willingness to hit a seam at full speed which every great returner possesses.
In my list of 19 bold Cowboys predictions for the 2010 season, I claimed that rookie Akwasi Owusu-Ansah would have a return touchdown at some point this season. I wrote:
I loved what I saw from AOA on returns during the preseason. More than anything, he was decisive. That’s perhaps the most important trait for a return man to possess. Felix Jones is explosive, but he became indecisive on kick returns and was subsequently quite ineffective.
AOA should end up manning both return positions by season’s end (or perhaps even by opening night if the Cowboys don’t use Dez Bryant on punt returns).
AOA is the “anti-Jones” on returns–extremely decisive and willing to hit a hole at full speed. Perhaps the Cowboys think the rookie needs to work on ball-security issues (he did fumble once in the preseason), but it isn’t like Jones is immune to losing the football.
If the Cowboys don’t want to send Dez Bryant back deep for kickoffs (he will still return punts), AOA is the next best option.