On the hot seat: Felix Jones

March, 1, 2011
3/01/11
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Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson looks at NFC East players who must improve in 2011.

The Cowboys' offensive line gets scrutinized quite a bit, and there could be several prominent changes up front, but they are a very good run-blocking unit. Few teams have receiving weaponry like Dallas. Tony Romo will be back, Dez Bryant is on the cusp of stardom, and the Cowboys have elite pass-catchers in Jason Witten and Miles Austin.

[+] EnlargeFelix Jones
Tim Heitman/US PresswireFelix Jones added weight last season but seemed to lose explosiveness in the process.
Felix Jones certainly isn’t a bad player, but he is loaded with talent and if he played up to that ability, this offense could be as good as any in the league. Jones added weight before the 2010 season, and that might have been a mistake. He didn’t look as explosive, and the long runs didn’t come with as much frequency.

Jones can run on the interior, but he is at his best on the edges using his extreme quickness and speed -- two things that may have been compromised by the added weight last season. Everything is there for Jones to be great. But right now, he is merely an above-average runner.

The same is true in the passing game. Jones is a solid contributor out of the backfield. But he could be a great receiving option who can detach from the formation and abuse linebackers one-on-one with more refinement of his craft.

Marion Barber could be playing elsewhere next season, but Tashard Choice's role could be primed for expanding. Choice is an excellent all-around back who does everything well but nothing exceptionally well. He would have had many more touches had he been a member of just about any other team in the league. Getting Barber out and Choice more involved might be the best thing for Jones and the Cowboys’ running game. Choice will push Jones. Jones is a very good all-around running back, but he could be great. If he takes that next step, Dallas will be very difficult to stop on offense.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

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