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7.8 Reasons Why Dallas Should Start Felix Jones

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I'm back with another edition of my Felix Jones-is-Tiki Barber-redux campaign.  Using K.C. Joyner's run metrics from Scientific Football '09 and from the new Maple Street Press Cowboys Annual 2009, I'm going to present more evidence why Dallas should return to the running back platoon it used so effectively in 2007 with Julius Jones and Marion Barber.  What's more, I'm going to demonstrate why I believe Felix should get Julius old starters job and push Barber back into the closer's spot.

Joyner's "Dallas by the Numbers" piece in the Cowboys Annual records running back performance by run type.  He lists seven types of running plays -- counters, draws, drives, isolations, off-tackles, slants/stretches and tosses/sweeps.  I'm not going to present Joyner's breakdowns here (sorry folks, you'll have to buy the magazine) but I am going to repackage his stats in two categories.

Make the jump for the rest.

I'm going to catalog two types of runs.  "Between the tackles" runs are the isos, dives, draws and counters. Outside runs are off tackles, stretch plays and tosses and sweeps. 

Inside Runs

Player Attempts Yards Yds. per Att.
Marion Barber 137 620 4.5
Tashard Choice 59 310 5.3
Felix Jones 17 133 7.8

 

Outside Runs

Player    Attempts   Yards   Yds. per Att.
Marion Barber 94 243 2.6
Tashard Choice 32 156 4.9
Felix Jones 11 178 16.2

 

The difference on outside runs is staggering.  Jones is a touchdown threat any time he takes the ball to a defense's perimeter.  His inside numbers make the case to start him.  Jones didn't get many inside carries last year, but he was just as much a touchdown threat on these plays.

Jones dominated across the board.  He did not run a dive play last year, but he had team-best averages on five of the other six run types.  Had Choice not posted a slightly better average on draws, Jones would have run the table.

Felix Jones has the look of a special back.  He's bulked up to 212 pounds this offseason.  He gives Dallas the best option on first downs, because defenses cannot stereotype him as a perimeter runner.  If the do, he'll burn them on a counter or isolation run. 

Make him the starter.  He'll give the team better performances on early drives and he'll make Barber a better runner, by letting him reprise his role as a late-half hammer.