Dallas Cowboys: Jamaal Charles

Cowboys run D to be tested too

November, 23, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have offered up little resistance with their pass defense. They are allowing 313 yards per game through the air, worst in the league.

Eli Manning started it all off with 450 yards passing in the season opener with four touchdown passes. He was intercepted three times, but he has had his way with the Cowboys at times in his career.

But part of the Giants’ resurgence lately has not been with Manning leading the way. It’s been with a ball control offense. On a conference call Wednesday Giants coach Tom Coughlin made note of how much the Giants have run the ball in their four-game winning streak: 31, 32, 38 and 24 times.

“That’s what they used to do, run the ball and then play-action to pass it,” defensive tackle Nick Hayden said. “They’re just trying to get back to it and being balanced instead of just throwing the ball the whole time.”

It’s not that the Giants have run it great. They are averaging fewer than 3 yards per carry, but Andre Brown, Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis can be bruising backs. The Cowboys have faced mostly shiftier backs in LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush and Jamaal Charles.

“Just harder to bring down guys and they can break a lot of tackles,” Hayden said. “We’ve got to be more physical.”

And as bad as the pass defense has been, the Cowboys allowed the New Orleans Saints to rush for 242 yards in their last game.

“We just got the details, be where we’re supposed to be at when we’re supposed to be there,” defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. “We’ve been playing with a lot of guys, just here and there filling guys in. We’ve been banged up, but I’m not the guy to make excuses. We’ve got to do better. We just have to go out here and concentrate on it and take it one step at a time and we’ll be OK.”

Jamaal Charles still supports Mack Brown

September, 14, 2013
IRVING, Texas – In case you've missed it, the University of Texas football program is going through some turmoil.

Last weekend saw the Longhorns beaten 40-21 at BYU, a game in which they allowed 550 rushing yards. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was fired, coach Mack Brown received a vote of confidence from athletic director DeLoss Dodds, and now starting quarterback David Ash will miss Saturday's game against No. 25 Ole Miss with head and right-shoulder injuries.

Texas alumnus and current Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said he's still a supporter of Brown.

"He won a national championship," Charles said in a conference call ahead of the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Chiefs on Sunday. "I still believe in him. I think he gets the guys going. Coach Brown is just a great coach. I [was there] three years and in my three years we were able to go to a bowl game. He gets on the players so hard, if they just start listening to everything he says and take it in, coach Brown will lead a team."

Of the BYU loss, Charles said, "It kind of hurt. (Chiefs coach) Andy Reid went to BYU so he kind of teased me about that. It hurt watching the game and watching my former team. I know they prepare so much to go out there and play in an environment, and to end up with those results, it’s bad. But I still believe in my Longhorns. Hopefully we can overcome that and just take it one game at a time now."

Felix Jones era is over with Cowboys

May, 14, 2013
Felix Jones signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles today, officially ending his time with the Dallas Cowboys.

Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he took away from the Dallas Cowboys' rookie minicamp.

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If Jones remains healthy -- and that's always been a big "if," because he's had toe, hamstring and thigh injuries -- the Cowboys could see him twice this season.

His role with the Eagles most likely will be as a change-of-pace runner, which was exactly his role with the Cowboys.

That's not a problem for the Eagles. For the Cowboys, it was.

In 2008, the Cowboys invested a first-round pick on Jones, hoping he'd become a backup for Marion Barber. That was wrong. An NFL team should never spend a first-round pick on a backup player.

In five NFL seasons, Jones rushed for 11 touchdowns and had 26 games with double-digit carries -- but only two with 20 or more carries. You could blame that on any number of factors: Jones' inability to remain healthy, coach Jason Garrett's lack of trust, or even inconsistency.

Before his injuries, Jones displayed speed, toughness and elusiveness. His body just wasn't durable enough to sustain it.

If ESPN Films' documentary series "30 for 30" ever does one on the stellar 2008 running back draft class, I'm sure somebody with the Cowboys will defend the franchise's choice to select Jones. But there's no defending it. Don't you wonder what would have happened if the Cowboys had bypassed Jones and instead drafted Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Matt Forte or Jamaal Charles?

When you don't offer a second contract to a former first-round pick -- no matter the position -- that tells you something about what the franchise thinks of that player. The Cowboys will say Jones wasn't a bust and that he scored 15 total touchdowns in five NFL seasons and rushed for 2,728 yards.

But now the Eagles have their backup running back, and they acquired him the way you normally would ... and not by using a first-round pick on him.
PHOENIX -- Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he's open to bringing former first-round pick Felix Jones back to the team if the free agent is still available.

ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins joins Galloway & Company to discuss the latest from the NFL owners meetings, Tony Romo's contract situation and much more.

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Felix Jones showed flashes at time, but injuries hampered his ability to have a bigger impact. Now a free agent, Felix Jones has yet to visit with any NFL teams.

"We've got to look at the backup backfield," Jerry Jones said. "You can't dismiss Felix. I don't want to dismiss him from our thinking."

The backup running backs to DeMarco Murray currently are Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar.

"Dunbar is pretty impressive when you look back (on his season)," Jerry Jones said. "When he got his chances, he did real well. He was in some pretty critical situations. He's got a real receiver knack. He can find the soft spot. He gives us an alternative. He's going to have to make the contribution on special teams. It's hard not to have that third back be a special teams contributor."

Felix Jones is not a special teams contributor, but he's someone, if healthy, who could have an impact.

"I didn't expect Felix to have some of the physical limitations that he's had," Jerry Jones said. "I know how hard of a worker that he is, and I know what his motor was when he came out of Arkansas. The facts are he did some good things for us last year. I would have hoped with those two No. 1 picks, Felix could have been the one. But of course, Murray had something to say about that. But the big thing with Felix has been his health. That's been the most disappointing thing."

The owner wouldn't call Felix Jones a bust, but compared to the other running backs drafted in 2008 -- Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles -- there is major disappointment.

"I'm disappointed that Felix hadn’t been healthier," the owner said. "But I know that when he first joined our team, we were proud to have him with that No. 1 pick. And, as late as last year, I was proud to have that No. 1 in (Mike) Jenkins, the other first-round pick that year. But it's five years down the road now."
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys need to get their struggling running game going against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Cowboys have rushed for just 128 yards the last three weeks combined.

Overall, the Cowboys are 31st in the NFL with 271 total rushing yards.

Now they face the Ravens a team that's allowed 592 rushing yards, 22nd in the league, and coming off a game against Kansas City last week where they gave up 214 rushing yards. In the first five weeks of the season, the Ravens have allowed at least 100 rushing yards in four of the games.

But inside linebacker and 13-time Pro Bowler Ray Lewis isn't backing down.

"I tell you what, they can look to do whatever they want to do, but it ain't going to be what they think it's going to be," Lewis said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.

Now, Lewis wasn't trying to start anything, he was just answering a question.

But he understands the Ravens can't allow another running back to produce the numbers like the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles did. He rushed 30 times for 140 yards, but had no touchdowns.

"If you look at it per play, we're No. 3 per play, so if you take out the big plays, which every team has to figure it out, whether you go through it sooner or later, that's the business of football. We've been through this before," Lewis said.

Does Cowboys run game get going vs. Ravens?

October, 10, 2012
IRVING, Texas – It seems to be a matchup that will be a push Sunday, the Cowboys' run offense against the Baltimore run defense.

The Cowboys can’t – or won’t – run the ball, averaging 67.8 yards a game on the ground, which is 29th in the league. The Ravens are giving up 118.4 yards per game on the ground, which is 20th in the NFL and a far cry from how good their run defense has been.

Last week, Kansas City ran it 50 times for 214 yards against Baltimore, led by Jamaal Charles' 140 yards, which has created the perception that the Ravens aren’t what they used to be. But they are still allowing only 3.5 yards per carry and have never allowed 4 yards a carry for a season since moving to Baltimore in 1996.

The Cowboys are averaging 3.4 yards per carry, and if you take away DeMarco Murray’s busted play run of 48 yards in the season opener at the New York Giants they are averaging 2.9 yards per rush.

“I think there are a lot of reasons (why the Cowboys have not run better),” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve talked about some of the pre-snap penalties that got us in some bad situations in a couple of games. We’ve had some minus runs and there are some different reasons for that, as well. Guys getting physically beaten up front or on the edges or wherever they need to be, and we’ve played some good run defending teams where there’s been a lot of movement up front and frankly we’ve not blocked it as good as we need to. We haven’t run it as well as we need to.”

The opponents’ comment is a good one. Tampa Bay is No. 4 against the run, Seattle is No. 3 and Chicago is No. 2, but that can’t be an excuse either.

“In order for us to be the offense we want to be we have to be balanced,” Garrett said. “You’re not going to be able to run the ball well every week in this league. Just look around at all the good offenses, they don’t do it. But you have to do it better than what we’ve been doing it.”

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis isn't looking for the running game to get healthy this week.

“They can look to do whatever they want to do but it ain’t going to be what they think it’s going to be,” Lewis said on Wednesday's conference call.

Fantasy week: DeMarco Murray's value

June, 27, 2012

We'll wrap today's run of fantasy football video content with this roundtable discussion about Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray. He took the NFL and fantasy worlds by storm last season once he got the job as the Cowboys' starting running back, and before he broke his ankle in the December game against the Giants he'd emerged as a top fantasy option. He says he's healthy and will have no training camp limitations. So if we take him at his word, where do we draft him?

Eric Karabell starts off the discussion by saying he won't rank Murray in the top 10 because he fears a timeshare with Felix Jones. I think such fear is unfounded. When everyone was healthy last year, Murray was clearly the starter and Jones clearly the backup. Murray even showed enough pass-catching ability to keep Jones on the bench in those situations. So assuming he gets and stays healthy, I don't think there's any fear about Murray as the clear No. 1 back in Dallas.

Christopher Harris ranks Murray No. 9 among running backs. He has reservations because of the extent to which Murray's numbers were inflated by the one huge game against the Rams (as were the numbers of any good back who played the Rams, hello, Ryan Torain). And he qualifies his ranking by pointing out the questionable value of the other backs around him in the rankings (injury-recovery cases Darren McFadden and Jamaal Charles, to name two). But he says he's "willing to take a chance on the upside," and I agree. I think Murray should be viewed as a very good second-tier option after the elite guys are off the board. He plays in one of the league's top offenses. He performed as one when given the chance, and if he's healthy he has that experience on which to draw. I'd shy away a bit in keeper leagues, because I have this fear that he's not the kind of back that holds up long-term. But in the short term, I think Murray can be extremely productive, and he has a rare quality among fantasy running backs: There's no real threat to his starting job.
During a podcast with NFL Network's Rich Eisen scheduled to air Thursday, The Triplets -- Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin -- talked about the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Super Bowl title, the first for Jerry Jones, and various other subjects.

Smith, the Hall of Famer and NFL's career leading rusher with 18,355 yards, likes the Cowboys' running backs but made some interesting comments about backup Felix Jones.

"And then when you look at the running back corps, they have two good guys – very good guys – and either one of them can shoulder the load and shoulder the burden at any point in time," Smith said. "We need Felix Jones to step up because we know DeMarco Murray can make it happen. We need Felix to step up a little bit – that’s a true statement."

Now, let's repeat, Smith said the Cowboys, "have two good guys, very good guys" as running backs. Yet his comments about Jones are worth looking into.

When you look back on that 2008 draft, we can think about at least five running backs selected after Jones who have produced better numbers. Jones has rushed for 2,326 yards on 458 carries. He's got only eight rushing touchdowns. By the way the five backs we thought about were Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles. When the Cowboys drafted Jones, it was mainly to back up Marion Barber.

But do you really waste a first-round pick on a backup?

Jones is a terrific running back, someone who can make defenders miss in space. He doesn't have the speed of, say, Johnson, but he's a running back who is hard to chase down at times.

The Cowboys have always described Jones as a complementary back and with good reason. He backed up Barber since he came into the NFL and when given the chance to become the full-time starter last season, he lost the gig to DeMarco Murray due to injury.

Jones has played 16 games in a season only once in his career.

Yes, running back is a tough position and few teams go with just one back, but Jones' durability is something that has been an issue for him throughout his career.

And as he enters the final year of his contract, you begin to wonder if he'll get a second deal with the Cowboys.

The Felix Jones draft debate

October, 8, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- There is this debate regarding Felix Jones, the Cowboys third-year running back, and whether he should have been drafted ahead of some other stellar players at his position.

In some ways we forget just what was said about the 2008 running back class.

In Mel Kiper Jr.s 2008 draft report, the top rated running backs in order was Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall and Jones.

Here's what Kiper said about the Top 3.

On McFadden: "With his natural athleticism, determination and versatility, he is one tremendously talented performer who should turn heads immediately in the NFL this fall. You just don't have many RB's in the NFL that are capable of taking it 40-plus yards at any time."

On Mendenhall: "It's amazing how highly he's regarded right now, when you stop to consider that he had just 126 total carries in his first two seasons in the Big Ten." Later on, Kiper writes, "He'll keep offenses in the NFL on schedule, since he heads north-south at all times and is rarely in danger of being tackled for negative yards."

On Jones: "Like Reggie Bush, he can't take much of a pounding, so he's not going to step in and be a workhorse or feature back. With a complimentary performer in place, Jones presents one heck of a change of pace."

However, Chris Johnson, who was the 24th pick of the first round, has better career numbers than the top three with 703 carries for 3,588 yards and 27 touchdowns.

You could say the following players, Jonathan Stewart, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Steve Slaton and Johnson are better than Kiper's Top 3 players.

Which brings us to Jones.

Did the Cowboys make a mistake in drafting Jones, No. 22 overall in 2008?

Some would say yes, just based on what happened after Jones was drafted.

Five players drafted after Jones have more yards and carries than him.

And seven of the last eight running backs overall that were drafted between Jones and Tashard Choice, a fourth-round pick, who was selected at No. 122, have more yards and carries than Jones.

So what gives?

At the time the Cowboys were deciding between Mendenhall and Jones.

"More Felix than anybody," coach Wade Phillips said. "We discussed all the backs that year and how we wanted them and we picked the guy who would help us the best."

The Cowboys picked a player who would be a good No. 2 to Marion Barber. Jones was supposed to be a third-down back and a change of pace to make the defense off balance.

In three seasons, Jones has just 168 carries and only 25 receptions.

Jerry Jones said Friday afternoon he wants the Cowboys to give Felix Jones more carries, but not if it means messing up the entire offense.

Jerry Jones understands the issues here espeically this weekend with the Cowboys taking on the Titans, the team Johnson plays for.

"We feel that Felix has the ability to challenge the defenses and make the defenses think about what he's doing just as we're thinking about what Chris is doing, and believe yo me we're thinking about it," Jerry Jones said. "When you have to focus in on a back like Johnson then you have to adjust and take away from some other players at other positions. Well, we got other players at other positions that we would like a chance to get the ball to. So all of it puts a spotlight on Felix and Felix gives us a chance to have some of the kinds of plays that Chris Johnson does."

Jones could have a longer career than Johnson because running backs to take a pounding don't last in today's NFL. Jones can also do more things. He's a better blocker than Johnson and if given the chance is better at catching the ball. Johnson's speed and ability to make people miss gives him an overall edge on Jones right now.

In the short term, the Cowboys look like they made the wrong choice at running back. In the long-term, maybe Jones might pan out afterall.

"He was a smaller guy [and] nobody could catch him," said Phillips, who also liked Johnson coming out of the draft. "So, it was a great draft class. You can say Felix hasn’t done well and I think he has."
The running back crop in the 2008 draft will probably go down as one of the greatest in NFL history.

The Cowboys feel good about Felix Jones, who is likely to take over as the lead horse after a season and a half as an electrifying change-of-pace back. But it's tough to argue that he was the best possible pick at No. 22 overall.

The debate at the time was Felix vs. Rashard Mendenhall, who was selected by the Steelers with the next pick. And that's still worthy of an argument after Mendenhall rushed for 1,100 yards last season, when Jones averaged 5.9 yards per carry, 1.3 more than Mendenhall with a workload half as heavy.

But two years and one 2,000-yard season later, there's no question that Tennessee's Chris Johnson is the best of the bunch despite lasting until No. 24 overall.

You could make a strong case that Baltimore's Ray Rice, who lasted until late in the second round, is the second-best back in class. All he did last season was account for more than 2,000 total yards for a passing-challenged playoff team.

Third-rounder Jamaal Charles, the Texas product picked by Kansas City, has to be somewhere in the conversation. He rushed for 1,120 yards despite getting only 190 carries, matching Jones' yards per pop. Carolina's Jonathan Stewart, who has rushed for 20 touchdowns in two seasons as a part-timer, also merits mention, although he was long gone by the time the Cowboys went on the clock.

At least the Cowboys didn't trade into the top five to get Darren McFadden, who has been a dud in Oakland.

If Jones stays healthy, the Cowboys have no reason for regret. But we can still play the what-if game on a slow day in May.