The question on everyone’s mind these days is and will continue to be, how and better still can Jason Garrett use the wealth of running backs he has at his disposal?
With the start of training camp rapidly approaching one would think that Jason Garrett is hard at work devising a plan to optimize the abundance of talent he has at the running back position??????
The Cowboys invested #1 money on Marion Barber to be the #1 guy, but we are all aware of the fact that Marion is better suited to be fresh in the fourth quarter!
The Cowboys also used a first round selection last year on Felix Jones, so there is an extremely high need to get him touches as well.
Then let’s not forget about the 2008 unsung hero from Georgia Tech, Tashard Choice! When the Cowboys were decimated by injuries Choice stepped in and performed at an extremely high level.
These are three very different running backs which will allow Jason Garrett a ton of flexibility.
Marion Barber: Marion is the head knocker of the group, while he is not a burner so the big plays you get from him are more of the “just ran over three people on his way to a 20 yard touchdown” variety. However with his hard nosed running style his body wears down much quicker than the elusive style back.
Felix Jones: Felix is the epitome of a “Home run hitter” there is not one spot on the field where he cannot score from. Possessing speed, agility, vision, and great hands. Felix Jones is in the mold of a Reggie Bush type. For all the good qualities he possesses the one concern with him is his ability to stay off the injured list.
Tashard Choice: Tashard is very much so one of the most vocal leaders on this team. He is the most complete back of the group, while he is not the fastest or strongest he can do a lot of good in many areas. He has the ability to give opposing defenses many different looks. The only question with Tashard is, was last year legit or did he catch some teams off guard and worn down?
What is considered by many (including myself) to be the biggest strength of this years team, could possibly be a nightmare for Jason Garrett? If Garrett fails to adequately use this group, the wheels of this season could come flying off!
There has been many people try this off season to predict how many touches each man should receive on a per game basis. While there is no one good way or rule to go by, many claim a sequence such as this:
Marion Barber: 15-20 Touches
Felix Jones: 10-15 Touches
Tashard Choice: 5-10 touches
This appears to be a solid marker to follow, but I am not a big fan of this way of thinking. I just feel that if you set yourself boundaries, you ultimately are setting yourself up for failure.
The amount of touches this unit gets (designed running plays) should be and I believe will be handled on a game by game, scenario by scenario basis.
Jason Garrett needs to know what he has, and to put the player and the team in good situations. Part of knowing what he has is going to be the recognition of what situations the player performs at his peak.
Many people including myself marvel at the closing ability of Marion Barber, while this is a very true statement there is something that must be taken into account. The only time his closing ability will come into affect is if this team is ahead in the fourth quarter and that they can continue to pick up first downs.
Jason Garrett cannot become predictable with his formations or his sub packages, the defenses cannot be given the luxury of simply looking in the backfield to see who is there and know what the play is.
The Cowboys should be able to line up two if not all three on the field in certain situations.
If I was a betting man I would have to say that Felix Jones will spend a lot of time this year lined up out wide and in the slot. Allowing Garrett to give teams a full dose of Marion and Tashard early and often!
The first half of games this year will be crucial to the success of the team. They need to be able to establish the ground game early on. The score at the end of the first half is not the most important thing.
The rest of the league knows what the Cowboys have at the running back position; So Garrett will be forced to make some crucial decisions very early on in games.
Teams will simply overload the line of scrimmage and try to force Garrett to give up on the run. He must be strong willed enough to fight off the urge to open up the air attack! We all saw what happened when this team became so one dimensional last year.
Those 90’s Cowboys teams were the best at simply beating a team into submission by the 3rd quarter. This team has something that those teams did not, depth! There is no need for 35 carries a game to one man, this team can run a different guy through the holes in the line like fans through the turnstiles!
If this team and Jason Garrett use what is available to them correctly, there will be nothing that anyone can do about it! That is one big IF though.