When I was about 11 years old, I remember watching a certain running back excel on 3rd downs for my beloved Cowboys. His name: Preston Pearson. The year: 1975. After playing for the Colts and Steelers early in his career, he came to Dallas in ’75 and retired six years later in ’80 after a total of 14 years in the NFL.
Preston Pearson was widely known as the player who defined the position of a "3rd Down Back," a novelty in those days. At the end of his career he had rushed for over 3,600 yards and had nearly 3,100 yards receiving. He was an adept runner with great receiving skills, which made him a valued commodity on the Cowboy’s offense, especially on crucial 3rd down plays. Even though the opposition knew he was going to get the ball on 3rd down, it seemed to me that they could rarely stop him from "moving the chains."
I’ve been interested to see if Jason Garrett is planning on using Tashard Choice in the Preston Pearson role. Thus far, in this very short season, the Cowboys have had 21 "3rd-Down" opportunities. And no player has touched the ball more on 3rd-Down than Tashard Choice (6 times.) I hope the trend continues, and that he becomes every bit the terror to modern defenses, that Preston was "back in the day."
Here’s a breakdown:
3rd and 4 – ran for 7 yards (1st down)
3rd and 7 – reception for 5 yards
3rd and 20 – reception for 1 yard
3rd and 3 – reception for 3 yards (1st down)
3rd and 3 – ran for 5 yards (1st down)
3rd and 10 – ran for 3 yards (deep near our endzone – McBriar needed punting space)
While I’m on the subject of 3rd down conversions, let me mention that so far this year on 3rd down Romo has thrown the ball 15 times:
4 times to Crayton = 0 conversions
2 times to R. Williams = 0 conversions
2 times to Bennett = 0 conversions
3 times to Choice = 1 conversion
4 times to Witten = 4 conversions
*Every time Romo has thrown to Witten on 3rd down it was converted to a 1st down or a Touchdown.
The Cowboys have been in 3rd and short 9 times (4 yards or less)
5 times they passed – converted 3 of them
4 times they ran – converted all 4 of them (Choice twice, Barber once, Romo once)
*Every time the Cowboys have run the ball on 3rd and short they have converted to a 1st down or Touchdown.
Here’s to Tashard Choice becoming the next Preston Pearson = cheers!!