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Thursday, December 15, 2011
Five-star: It's all about the fullback

By Tim MacMahon

Five-Star Question: Will Felix Jones, who has one run of 10 yards or more in 44 carries on the road, match or surpass that total this week in Tampa?

It’s not about Felix Jones. It’s about Tony Fiammetta.

It’s really pretty simple. The Cowboys are an elite rushing offense with Fiammetta as the fullback. They’re one of the league’s worst without him.

Cowboys’ tailbacks have 24 runs of 10 yards or longer in Fiammetta’s seven games. They have only four runs of that length in the six games the fullback didn’t play.

Jones has two 100-yard games this season, one more than he had in the previous three seasons combined. It’s not a coincidence that both 100-yard performances came with Fiammetta paving the way for him.

Fiammetta and Jones have only three games together. The lone opponent in those games to hold Jones under 100 yards was the San Francisco 49ers, who have by far the best run defense in the league.

Tampa Bay is a long way from San Francisco. The Buccaneers rank 28th in the NFL against the run, allowing 139.7 yards per game and 4.6 per carry.

Jones had four 10-plus-yard runs against a bad run defense in Sunday night’s shootout loss to the New York Giants. Consider that the over-under against an even worse run defense on the road this weekend.