It is fascinating to see how many similarities exist between sports. A basketball team that can only score in the paint eventually struggles to score when the opponent compresses their zone defense close to the basket. A pitcher with a great fastball is just an average pitcher until he develops the change-up to complement the heater.
Similarities even span across team sports and individual sports. The tennis player that has an awesome forehand, but a weak backhand. The golfer that is tremendous off of the tee, but three putts consistently.
Anyone that has competed has experienced the “one-trick pony”. The baller who can only shoot accurately moving to his right. The batter that cannot hit the curveball. The buddy that keeps donating cash to your private fund every time he pulls the putter out of his bag…
Felix is the three pointer needed to complement your 7-foot center.
Felix is the pitcher that paints the corners with junk and blows the hard stuff by you.
Felix is Federer and Tiger in shoulder pads and a helmet…OK, maybe that is overstating it: call it literary license.
It is amazing how the Cowboys rushing offense changed once Felix left the game on Monday night. I am afraid that Felix’s absence in the mile-high city will make the Cowboys running game look like the slow, old, hairy, shirtless, fat guy on the basketball court that prides himself in playing tough defense: one-dimensional (and bad).
Of the 32 carries the Cowboys executed against the Carolina Panthers, 26 were handoffs to either Tashard Choice (whom also took a direct snap for 10 yards) or Felix Jones. Those handoffs helped Dallas accumulate 169 yards on the ground. That averages exactly 6.5 yards per traditional rushing attempt.
The Dallas game plan started out simply enough: run behind Flozell Adams and Kyle Kosier. The Cowboys ran six of their 11 first half traditional running plays off of left guard (1), left tackle (2), or left end (3), and gained 36 yards. The Cowboys also had two token runs off of right tackle in the first half of the game that accounted for 18 yards, and almost much, much more, if not for a shoe-string tackle on Felix.
The Cowboys only ran three times up the middle (for 12 yards) in the first half, but once Jones went down, the offense changed their rushing strategy. In the second half, Dallas ran the ball four times on the left side of the line: two off of left end, and two off of left tackle. One of the runs off of left end was the huge 40-yard gallop by Felix.
The Cowboys only ran twice around right end for a total of six yards in the second half from traditional running sets. That means that of the 15 traditional runs executed by the Cowboys in the second half of the game against Carolina, Dallas ran up the middle nine times for 42 yards.
Of the 12 rushes up the middle, the longest run went for 9 yards, and four of the carries went for three yards or less. The Cowboys averaged a healthy 4.5 yards per carry running against a depleted Carolina front. That is generally considered a great average, but Dallas averaged 9.1 yards per carry running to the left and 6.0 yards per rush to the right side of the line.
Felix threatens the perimeter of the defense like no other player wearing a star since Tony Dorsett. Sans Felix, the Cowboys focused on grinding the ball up the middle of the defense. Felix’s speed and elusiveness forced the Panthers to defend across the entire line of scrimmage, and was the Cowboys most effective answer for Carolina’s zone blitz schemes.
Hopefully Felix will return soon, because nobody enjoys watching the slow, old, hairy, shirtless, fat guy on the basketball court. Perhaps that is also an overstatement…more literary license.