Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Fast Felix jumps the Barbarian
I have a hard time believing today's report that Wade Phillips is keeping Marion Barber as the starting running back for the Dallas Cowboys over back up Felix Jones. It's not a matter of is this the right call or not -- on the surface it's not -- but rather the true issue is does this really matter?
The answer: No.
Marion Barber can be the "starting" running back in 2010, that's fine, just as long has he is the "starter" the same way that Julius Jones was the Cowboys "starting" running back in 2007. He can be on the first on the first play of the game. Good for him. But at the end of the day, it isn't a question who will receive the bulk of the carries.
In 2007... Julius Jones started games, but Marion Barber was the undoubted workhouse of that backfield on a 13-3 team. Barber was named the starter in 2008 and Julius made his way to Seattle as the Cowboys drafted the speedy Felix Jones as well as Tashard Choice to fill in the depth chart.
This season, it's Barber who is not producing at the necessary level. He isn't the same guy that iced the game at Washington in 2008. Many Cowboys fans will clamor to give all his touches to the younger backs, the Tennessee game at least illustrates what so many have known since Fast Felix busted out a 98-yard kick return touchdown in Week 2 of the 2008 season: this is the guy.
Let Barber start the game, sure, no big deal. But when it matters, when the Cowboys need to actually move the ball, Tony Romo should put it in the belly of No. 28. And the Cowboys did just that on Sunday, albeit in a losing effort to the Titans (to no fault of Felix Jones, we should add).
Considering the 2003 Dallas Mavericks. Shawn Bradley was a "starter" for that team. He would go after the jump ball to start games (and sometimes even gain possession!), but Nick Van Exel was the guy who played a bulk of the minutes off the bench, twice as many minutes as Bradley during a playoff run to the Western Conference Finals.
Marion Barber can go after the jump ball just so long as Felix Jones handles the majority of the duties.
Wade Phillips is trying to be politically correct in his own locker room. Maybe he doesn't want to hurt MB3's feeling or maybe he just doesn't want to come right out and make the switch as he did when pressured into putting Barber in the starting role prior to the NFC Divisional Round loss to the Giants in January 2008. Whatever the reason, he's saying the right things, but as long as the plays called reflect a different attitude, that's all that truly matters.