The Dallas Cowboys find themselves in unfamiliar territory when it comes to their running back depth chart. For the last seven years Ezekiel Elliott has been the guy behind Dak Prescott. With that no longer being the reality, the Cowboys have a relatively unknown situation to monitor in their backfield.
While many believe Tony Pollard being the main guy has been a long time coming, even coming off an injury and the questions that may arise from that, most of the Cowboy’s questions will be focused on who is behind him and how the opportunities shake out. With many suitors and a short offseason to sort it out, the Cowboys will need to see who rises to the occasion and takes hold of the backup running back spot.
There seems to be contingents within the fanbase that like the idea of Duece Vaughn, Malik Davis, or even Rico Dowdle for the RB2 job. However, there is one more name you should not sleep on and that man is Ronald Jones. Jones has a real chance to take the opportunity and run away with it.
Jones has proven himself as a reliable performer throughout his professional career. While the numbers have varied year to year since joining the NFL in 2018, Jones has exhibited a veteran, steady presence in his performance when given a chance. Jones’s best season in the NFL came in 2020 while a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tallying 978 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, and seven touchdowns. The opportunity and talent around him were right and allowed him to thrive and while those numbers are not what is expected of him in this year’s role, we aren’t so removed from them to think he isn’t capable of being that guy once again.
Physically, the toll hasn’t accumulated as of late. Jones has only carried the ball 118 times over the last two seasons, and while some may look at that as a reason for concern or thinking that his time being productive may be behind him, the other way of viewing it is to see that the opportunity in his previous stops were not ones that was an ideal situation for him to have a real chance to make an impact. The Cowboys' backup position is wide open, and while there is some intrigue with the other names on the roster including exciting rookie Deuce Vaughn, Jones has a chance to bring stability in relief of Tony Pollard as he still possesses the ability to utilize his agility, burst of speed, and solid field vision to be a well-rounded backup option. It’s not going to be a fan favorite option, and it may not be a flashy one either, but Jones has a real chance to come into camp and grab ahold of the position and keep it from the others.
Jones’ versatility makes him an intriguing prospect for the Dallas Cowboys. He is not limited to just one style of running. He can excel both between the tackles and on the perimeter, while also possessing the ability to pass protect, catch balls out of the backfield and be a complete back the Cowboys are always looking for. This versatility allows the Cowboys to utilize a varied playbook, providing different options and formations to keep opposing defenses on their toes and continue to stress the defense even when Pollard gets a breather. Jones’ ability to catch passes out of the backfield also adds another dimension to the Cowboys’ offense, opening opportunities for creative play designs and screen passes.
If you aren’t sold on his past production or his future prospects, the fact that he is just 25 years old should peak people’s interest. Despite being a veteran with five years of experience, Jones represents a player with significant untapped potential who is still years away from the proverbial cliff that being 30 years old brings. He has already demonstrated his abilities at a young age and has room to grow and develop further. By acquiring Jones, the Cowboys secured a talented running back for the present, but also potentially reap the benefits of his continued improvement in the future if he proves capable of doing so starting in Oxnard.
Jones’ skill set complements that of the Cowboys’ current starting running back. With Pollard carrying the load as the primary back, Jones’s style of running provides a contrasting change of pace but is well-rounded enough to do whatever the Cowboys ask of him. His skill set provides a fresh approach to keep opposing defenses off balance and ensure the offense maintains a high level of productivity when Pollard is off the field.
This is a new day for the Dallas Cowboys. With Ezekiel Elliott gone, a chance has presented itself for the first time in almost a decade.
Past performances and veteran presence coupled with versatility, breakaway speed at a surprisingly young age, plus a complementary skill set, durability, and work ethic make Jones a compelling choice as the second running back for the Cowboys. His potential to excel in a multifaceted role would add depth and diversity to the Cowboys’ offense, enhancing their chances of success on the field. As the team strives for greatness, Jones could be an important depth piece for 2023 and possibly beyond.