With each practice Tashard Choice missed, the volume on the conversation rose. Over the course of the 2010 campaign, the talk centered around him taking up residence in offensive-coordinator-turned-head-coach Jason Garrett's doghouse. After the season's conclusion, advanced analysis did him in. A close look at running back metrics gave the impression that Choice's stance as the do everything well, nothing great back had to be downed with a 'glass half-empty' shot of unsweetened Kool-Aid.
Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder in the NFL, it does the opposite. Absence in this league will quickly remove you from fan's hearts; makes them forget what it is you bring to the table. Especially at running back, where quality performances by unheralded players at this position seems the norm, year in year out. There's always a that guy, a player with great collegiate production that didn't float to the top in the sea of pro potentialers.
Choice went down with a calf strain the first week of training camp; promptly giving way for the unsung guys to make some noise. With 3rd rounder DeMarco Murray also out with an injury, the fourth and fifth backs on the roster were now running with the 1's and 2's as Felix Jones' backups. With each practice missed, the rumbles that this team no longer needed Choice's services grew stronger. This includes some out loud (if typing can be considered out loud) musings from yours truly.
Choice finally returned to the field for practice last week, itching for a chance to quiet his critics. We can probably assume he heard them, too, as his twitter correspondences were peppered with self-motivational 'they doubt me' messages. He acquitted himself fairly well in his 9 snaps against Minnesota, even though his final stats show a meager three rush attempts while gaining 14 yards. I found it mildly ominous that on Tashard Choice’s first carry of the season, his great run got wiped out by a holding call. Mildly ominous until his third carry was the exact same thing, a big run sprung by a big hold. Sometimes it feels like moving forward is an uphill battle, and there was something metaphorical in the fact that Choice's progress was being muted by things outside of his control. Let's take a look at the play-by-play, with screen caps, on what Choice brought to the table. And yes, screen caps are included.
PLAY BY PLAY
|PLAY SPECIFICS||PLAYER GRADE|
|2nd Quarter- 3:43 left in the half||1-10-DAL 21 (3:38) (Shotgun) T.Choice right tackle to DAL 36 for 15 yards.||PENALTY on DAL-K.Kowalski, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at DAL 21 - No Play.||3 WR, 1TE 1RB, Slot Left with TE outside LT -Minny has 5 up, but all LBs drop into coverage. Choice starts up the middle and veers right behind Kosier who is the lineman with no one to block. Kowalski wraps his left arm around DT Evans as he pursues TC. Some holds don't affect the play outcome, this was not one of them. Choice would have had to put a move on to gain any yardage.||Push|
|1-20-DAL 11 (3:08) T.Choice right guard to DAL 12 for 1 yard (B.Robison).||2 WR, 1TE left, 2 RB - FB Gronk goes right and picks up the ROLB after Kosier cuts him loose. There is a clear lane to the right inside of Tyron, but Choice cuts it back, where he is tackeld at the line by the diving MLB.||Negative|
|2-19-DAL 12 (2:30) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to K.Ogletree to DAL 25 for 13 yards (EJ.Henderson; C.Greenway).||3 WR, 1TE (right), 1RB - Choice floats out to the flat||N/A|
|3-6-DAL 25 (2:00) (Shotgun) T.Romo sacked at DAL 19 for -6 yards (C.Ballard).||3 WR, 1TE ( R), 1RB - Choice again floats to flat to be checkdown option, but Free Smith and Kowalski lose their battles and it's a jailbreak||N/A|
|3rd Quarter- 11:16 left on the clock||1-10-DAL 42 (11:16) T.Choice left end to MIN 45 for 13 yards (Ty.Johnson).||PENALTY on DAL, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at DAL 42 - No Play. (the official play by play lists Tanner, but it wasn't)||2WR, 1TE, 2RB - Bennett in motion from L to R, behind RT - Choice takes handoff around LT Parnell who is holding the DE. Choice would have a better shot of making a succesful move than the first hold, as he seemed to be already to the running lane. He showed good burst to the 2nd level, and runs through two defenders at the 50 for an extra 4 yards (if the play counted)||Positive|
SCREEN CAPS BELOW!
||1-20-DAL 32 (10:50) T.Choice left end to DAL 44 for 12 yards (K.O'Donnell).||Original play by play lists right guard.||Balanced 12 set, TE Phillips is supposed to seal left as the line blocks down, but the DE gets into the backfield. Choice shows the shiftiness that his supporters love. He dips his shoulder to avoid Griffin, then gets past a arm tackle from the LB. He puts on a spin move to avoid the safety and ducks down to avoid the big hit. When people say TC reminds them of Emmitt, this is the type of play they are talking about.||Major Positive|
|2-8-DAL 44 (10:12) J.Kitna pass to K.Ogletree to MIN 47 for 9 yards (M.Sherels). P10||2WR, 1TE(R to L), 2RB, quick strike left to KO on a slant.||N/A|
|1-10-MIN 47 (9:35) J.Kitna pass to J.Holley to MIN 22 for 25 yards (M.Raymond). P11||2WR to the right, 1TE (L), 2 RB - Choice leaks out to the right after the snap.||N/A|