How Can the Cowboys Get the Most out of Felix Jones in 2012?
Jones was drafted to become the Cowboys' feature running back, but that approach has not seen much success.
However, with teammate DeMarco Murray's 2011 performance cementing him as the Dallas starter, Jones can go back to doing what he does best: contributing as a backup.
Every running back comes into the league hoping to become the next Barry Sanders or Marshall Faulk, but there's some that are just better suited to be the next Thomas Jones or Kevin Faulk.
The reason Jones was pegged as a first-round draft pick back in '08 is that he posted almost 2,500 yards in his last two seasons at Arkansas despite being the backup to Darren McFadden. He also excelled in 2009 and had his best NFL season in 2010 backing up Marion Barber.
The five-year veteran has played his best football for Dallas in two-headed rushing attacks, not as the sole workhorse.
Jones knows how to take a limited amount of touches and make the most of those attempts.
As the sole starter at the beginning of last year, the former Razorback didn't show that same flare Cowboys fans had gotten used to the previous two seasons.
Jones had just one 100-yard game last year before losing his job to Murray after once again sustaining an injury. Even in 2010, when he posted 800 yards, Jones had just one 100-yard game, as well, though I should note that Jones did end up with more carries than Barber by the end of the season despite technically being the backup.
No. 28 has proven over time that he has neither the durability nor the consistency to just take the reigns and handle the full workload.
Luckily, Dallas isn't planning on that this year, with Murray secured as the starting running back.
Now without the physical toll of starting, Jones can go back to what made him successful in this game, and that's receiving 30-40 percent of the rushing attempts and making the most of them. He's deadly when he gets to the sideline, and his agility is well documented.
Pair that together with a large serving of Murray's strength and elusiveness, and these two can be more successful than the old Jones and Barber tandem.
The Cowboys coaching staff doesn't need to change the play-calling all that much whenever Jones subs in for Murray, as both backs have similar rushing approaches. The only real tweak would be giving Jones more sweeps and off-tackle plays in order to let him work his sideline magic.
Whether considering his college days or his earlier years with Dallas, Jones' best seasons of football have been when he's backing up starting rushers. He understands how to come into a game and provide a much-needed spark to an offense before passing the torch back to the main workhorse.
Dallas simply needs to use Jones in running plays that utilize his skill set and realize that he's at his best when given a limited number of carries.
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