The NFL has always been a league defined by toughness.
To name a few, there's Jack Youngblood playing in the 1980 NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XIV with a broken leg, Emmitt Smith rushing for 168 yards against the Giants with a separated shoulder, and Ronnie lot electing to cut his pinky finger off after it failed to heal properly.
Before his career is over, Marion Barber will be one of the toughest NFL players to ever play the game. Okay, that may be a little much. But he doesn’t have the nickname “Marion the Barbarian” because he enjoys gladiator movies.
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys suffered due to Marion’s absence. The team was able to supplement for a while with rookie Tashard Choice, but the ‘Boys were never the same after Barber went down with an injury.
This season is make-it-or-break-it for the ‘Boys of Valley Ranch. Romo is entering his third full season as quarterback and Marion Barber has help in the backfield with Tashard and Felix Jones.
The team cannot pin any offensive shortcomings on Terrell Owens anymore.
So, while Tony Romo receives the credit and the criticism for wins and losses, the team will only go as far as the Barbarian will take them.
In analyzing Barber's stats from 2007 and 2008, he tailed off a little in the fourth quarter last season due to injury.
However, unlike most backs, Barber sustains his production throughout the game.
In the fourth quarter last season, Marion had 53 rushing attempts and averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Compare that to 2007 when he was healthy, and Barber averaged a strong 4.9 yards per carry on 83 attempts.
Couple Barber's production with the speed and versatility of Choice and Jones, and the Cowboys could very well have the best offensive backfield in the league next season.
That’s if they can all stay on the field and healthy.
With the offensive firepower the Cowboys have stockpiled in Witten, Jones, Barber, Choice, Romo, and Roy Williams, there is no excuse for failure this season.
The Cowboys also have a brand new stadium that has seats that will need to be filled, so the fans' expectations for the team isn’t as high as team owner Jerry Jones.
If Tony Romo acts as the blood that flows through the Cowboys system, Marion Barber is the teams pulse. Without a pulse, you’re dead.