The Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers. Those were the only two teams worse in red zone efficiency than the Dallas Cowboys in 2015.
Despite that great, powerful offensive line and the NFL’s fourth leading rusher the Cowboys struggled mightily in red zone and short yardage situations. As a team the Cowboys fell from just about 65% in red zone efficiency in 2014 all the way down to 44.44% in 2015. Of course, the absence of Tony Romo put a huge dent into this number, but it could be argued that Dez Bryant‘s injury handcuffed this offense in the red zone even more than Romo’s did at times.
Without Bryant, the Cowboys lacked any type of long receiving threat who could go up and get the ball at it’s highest point and bring it down for a touchdown.
I don’t want to overreact to one inter-squad scrimmage and a week of training camp, but so far, undrafted free agent wide receiver Andy Jones looks to be that missing threat.
While he is listed at 6’2″, the former Jacksonville State receiver plays much longer than that on the field. Andy Jones has even already gained the trust of just about the most important player to the future of his career, quarterback Tony Romo. According to Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com, Romo already has so much confidence in Jones’ ability that he is “not afraid to throw him the ball in any situation.”
Wow. That’s a lot to say about an undrafted rookie free agent.
When the lights turned on yesterday for the Cowboys blue/white scrimmage and fans packed the house or streamed eagerly on their computers, Jones continued to prove why he deserves a spot on this team.
I see you, Dak. Play action fake, finds Andy Jones. https://t.co/k6hQvw0SOw
While it is hard to see his entire route from this angle, you can see Jones go up, extend his arms, and catch the ball while knowing that the defensive back was just waiting to deliver a blow. Then, he toe-taps in for a reception.
Showers to Andy Jones https://t.co/ILmFr9Ysky
We get a bit of a better angle on this play, and we can watch the entirety of Jones’ route. He comes off the ball with a purpose, making the defensive back believe that he is running straight up the field. Then, he is able to quickly change directions and cut inside, creating separation and making the play.
There were also multiple occasions that I saw Jones be physical at the line of scrimmage with corners, helping him to win on those quick hitting routes. Much more physical, I might add, than any receiver on this roster not-named Bryant has shown us before.
Dak finds Andy Jones in 7v7 https://t.co/gHKUPuIlOY
Here is yet another example of Jones not being afraid to go over the middle, get up and make the play. Yes, it’s just 7 on 7 and you can tell that no defensive back is going to come up and really drill him, but you can still clearly see the ability that Jones seems to possess.
There seems to be a logjam at the wide receiver position in Dallas, as five guys- Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, and Lucky Whitehead- are all already expected to make the final roster. But it is becoming more and more obvious that undrafted free agent Andy Jones is going to make it very difficult for the Cowboys staff to let him go. Even if that means keeping six wide-outs, or letting one of those aforementioned five go.
Andy Jones will be on an NFL roster this fall, and I sincerely hope it is this one in Dallas.
(Here’s one last great Andy Jones catch for good measure)