IRVING, Texas -- After three years do we know exactly what Felix Jones is yet?
Jones was injured for most of his rookie year in 2008. In 2009 he picked up the pace late in the season, which coincided with the Cowboys’ rise to NFC East division champs.
In 2010 he took over the No. 1 tailback duties once Jason Garrett took over as interim head coach. The results were positive. Jones carried the ball 112 times for 498 yards. He also caught 24 passes for 293 yards. The Cowboys went 5-3.
“It was good to see him get more carries,” Garrett said. “I didn’t doubt that but he got the opportunity and I think he responded well to it. We gave him the ball a lot. We threw it to him a lot and he handled some protections on third downs a lot more than he did in the past. He’s certainly shown he can be a complete back.”
Considering Jones entered the year with 146 carries and 21 catches to his credit in the first 20 games of his career, the second half of the season showed some promise.
It was not always perfect and he will not be used the way his draft classmates Chris Johnson and Rashard Mendenhall are used in Tennessee and Pittsburgh, but he showed he can be effective if a bit maddening. He has the speed to make the big play but he does not always have the best vision. That being said he was better at picking his spots with the more work he got down the stretch.
Jason Garrett does not want to have a back carry the ball 300 times in a season. He does not believe that is the most effective way to get the most out of a runner. Marion Barber’s 238 carries in 2008 are the most since Garrett began as a playcaller.
But with Jones and Tashard Choice – yes, I’m going out on the ledge to say Barber will not return in 2011 – the Cowboys have enough talent at running back to move the ball on the ground.