Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the running backs of each NFC East team. Today: Dallas Cowboys
Not long ago, I did a piece on Felix Jones in my “On the hot seat” series. As I mentioned then, few realize just how effective Dallas’ run blocking was last year. The offensive line needs offseason attention -- without question -- because the pass blocking was mediocre at best. But those who pave the way for the running game do it very well.
That is why I want more from the talented Jones, and the Cowboys might put more on Jones’ plate. I am not down on Jones -- it wouldn’t shock me if he were exceptional this season. And this backfield overall is one of the better ones in the NFL. Tashard Choice is a personal favorite of mine. He doesn’t get enough snaps, but I contend that he could be an extremely efficient runner if given the chance.
Marion Barber may be heading out of town, and considering Jones’ record of missing games, Choice could become the lead guy in this backfield at some point next season. To me, that wouldn’t be such a terrible scenario. Given the wealth of receiving options and overall weaponry of this offense, a try-hard runner with a slightly above-average skill set could flourish behind the Cowboys' blocking. In fact, it might be a very good idea -- if Barber is out of the picture -- to use Choice on early downs and let Jones focus on his immense potential in the passing game.
As for Barber, there no longer is much to get excited about. He ducks out of bounds too often for a power runner and just doesn’t have the burst or physicality that he once did. Unfortunately, this is often what happens to power backs who lack elusiveness and the overall skills need to excel at the position for years.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.