We interrupt the Pacman Jones drama for some coverage about the rest of the team and the game that will be played Sunday against the Cardinals. Oh? Yes, that's right, there is STILL a season to be played!
April 26, 2008. A date we had all anxiously awaited.
Most Cowboys fans were certain the Cowboys would be selecting a running back in the first round, it was just a question of which one and what pick. As each team's draft choice was called out and the draft moved steadily closer to the Cowboys' pick one thing started to become clear: the Dallas Cowboys would have their choice of Rashard Mendenhall and Felix Jones at running back. It was almost inconceivable that both would be available at #22, but a run at offensive linemen by teams with obvious running backs needs left the Cowboys with an enviable decision to make. Should they go with the franchise running back from Illinois or the explosive game changer from Arkansas?
Most fans, myself included, were foaming at the mouth at the chance to grab Mendenhall. As we all know the Cowboys selected the swift-footed Jones over the powerhouse Mendenhall, and Dallas fans everywhere cried out in uproar! Here's a few choice reactions from draft day here on BTB:
"I cant believable
Jones > Mendenhall???"
"I hate Jerry Jones"
"just a very silly silly move"
"What's the deal with Jerry taking a liking to RB's with the last name Jones over superior RB's that have slipped?"
"can't believe Jones passed up the best back in the draft"
All I have to say is thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Jason Garrett.
As we all saw on Hard Knocks, Garrett described Felix Jones as the perfect combination to Marion Barber and would be a much better fit for the Cowboys' offensive gameplans. Talk about an understatement.
The Cowboys have a dynamic to the running game that has not been there in a long time. With Barber pounding the rock, Felix Jones has the ability of taking it to the house any time he touches the ball. Through week five the Cowboys have the 7th ranked rushing offense in the league at 138 yards per game, which is mighty impressive considering the Cowboys gained a measly 44 yards against the Redskins. That low total coincidentally is also the only game in which Felix Jones did not get a carry.
As the Cowboys gear up to play the Arizona Cardinals much of the focus and debate has been on which passing attack will have the biggest game. Kurt Warner is back in top form and poses a significant threat against a depleted Cowboys secondary and it's questionable on if the Cowboys will be able to contain it.
The best defense against a high powered offense: keep the ball away from them.
The Cowboys have the ability to rack up a ton of yards on the ground, and now are doing so before the 4th quarter where in the past Barber had gotten the majority of his yards. Dallas has the manpower to play a ball control offense against a decent Cardinals defense, and it wouldn't be the worst idea to limit Tony Romo's touches. Despite what the numbers say, Romo has been uncharacteristically "off" the past few weeks. Perhaps another big game from Barber and Jones would help take some pressure of Romo and allow him to find his groove again.
Marion Barber, do what you do best. It was questionable whether he would be able to shoulder the load of a starting running back and so far the answer has been a resounding yes. Does anyone have a doubt that if faced with a fourth and one, Barber will find someway to get the first down? He has also shown he is an elite pass blocker, time again blowing up blitzers before they could get to Tony Romo.
Felix Jones is the perfect example of a player making the most of limited opportunities. He instantly silenced all doubters and has quickly become one of the league's premiere playmakers. While he deceptive speed has left many defenders behind, it's his uncanny ability to make defenders miss while never losing speed that is his best weapon. Many thought Jones was just a one-trick speedster in college, yet he has shown he has the strength and elusiveness to make plays between the tackles.
Together Jones and Barber are one of the league's most dynamic running back tandems. Against a dangerous offensive team like Arizona, the ability to steadily move the chains on the ground while also threatening to score with any touch will prove the difference in what most likely will be a high scoring affair.
Pound the ball, burn them deep.
Interesting stat of the day: While averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, the Arizona Cardinals lead the league with 8 rushing touchdowns. The Dallas Cowboys are tied for 2nd with 7.