Settle down people and take a deep breath. Collect yourselves. Serenity now. Serenity now. The word “controversy” is an ugly one when put into NFL context, and for the record, there is no running back controversy within the Valley Ranch halls and practice fields. At least not yet.
While we’re at it, let’s get this one on the table. If a running back controversy arises, it will be for absolutely ugly NFL terminology known as durability concerns. With this understanding out of the way, let’s assess what the Cowboys have in their offensive backfield.
How about luxury and depth? These are good things, not the “what are we going to do now?” Chicken Little sorts. The Texas sky is not falling. The three-headed and six-legged non-Julius monster is a pretty, and necessary, animal. Feed it, and it will grow. Especially the youthful two thirds known as Barber and Thompson. Thomas is a seasoned, proven mudder poised and ready for Northeastern November and December slop duty. All this “no Julius” is actually a good thing.
Rewind no further than last year. What was the Vinny Testaverde down fall and Achilles heel? Say what, a Julius Jones injury? Really now, so what’s the difference, and why isn’t Drew Bledsoe suffering the same dire straights? Recognition, depth and insurance. The Cowboys made darn sure they weren’t going to duplicate 2004 short sidedness. Is a refresher needed on what was trotted out there when Julius’ scapula went ka-ploo-ey? It wasn’t pretty, and if only the Cowboys had used the same in and foresight when it came to safeguarding against a ka-ploo-ey of the Drew Bledsoe kind. But hey, that’s a beef for another day. Let’s just pray there’s no Bledsoe injury in sight thus rendering this “major” concern inept.
The next disturbing post game caller commentary went something like this. “It was only the Cardinals.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the fort. Back up the truck. Tap the brakes. People, are you watching today’s NFL? Was the Tampa Bay populace not saying, “It’s only San Fran?” Or the Dawg Pound professing, “It’s only the winless Texans.” Snooze and you lose. There are no “givens” in today’s pigskin venues. No gimmes. No freebies. The only guarantee is the bye week. What Marion Barber III and Tyson Thompson did was dissect a NFL defense which, like them, is out playing every Sunday. Stop with its only so and so commentary. A win is a win. Move on.
When doctors, Britt Brown and Parcells provide ground clearance, #21 will be introduced with the starting offense and proceed to tote the rock. Nothing has changed. If anything, young Julius may come back to the fold a little more motivated with vigor in his step. The stable is currently filled with eager fillies wanting to get on the track, and don’t think for one minute Parcells isn’t planting this mental seed into Julius’ helmet every chance he gets. Motivation of the cruelest kind. “Maybe you don’t have what it takes Jones. Maybe you’re too brittle. Maybe your Notre Dame days were a fluke. I’ve got Big Ten backs and a kid from the backyard who wants to run the ball.” Oh, the Parcells’ mind games.
What the talk show callers should have been spouting from their critical cans was, “This Marion Barber kid may be a player.” Why? Because he is. The University of Minnesota may have had the most dynamic duo in the nation last year. They both have such tremendous talent and natural ability, but the masses never saw the full potential of Barber and running mate Laurence Maroney. As witnessed against the Cardinals, Barber is very effective with blitz pick-up and double team blocks. These are the continued Thompson concerns, but Parcells seems to favor Barber’s ability to know all assignments, and with Parcells, it’s all about doing what you’re supposed to do. Instead of trying to thrust him into a starting role, just be thankful the Cowboys had him slotted for their first pick on Day Two of this year’s NFL Draft. To date, it was a very nice selection.
The Cowboys, possibly contrary to naysayer’ beliefs, are a better team with Julius Jones in the line up. They are. If concerns exist, they should be on the premise of potential durability concerns. This “nicked up” syndrome does not precede him, and that’s a very good thing. At this point, it’s only a streak of apparent bad luck. Ankles are one thing, but a broke scapula? What are the odds of this injury? Not highly probable or common place in the NFL. Indeed, the two year, game participation figure, 13 of 24, is not favorable or impressive by any stretch. Yes, there’s plenty of room for marked improvement, but it’s far too early to write off last year’s second round (the Cowboys first overall) selection. Patience is not something highly adhered to in the Cowboys’ Nation, but it’s a necessity when considering the future of Julius Jones. Throwing in the towel would be tremendously premature.
So, it’s hurry up and wait. Such is the nature of life. Ever hear the one about good things happening to those who wait? The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, and it’s time to let the wounded heal. Unless someone is hiding something, which in the Parcells’ directed and mandated world is entirely possible, it’s a favorable bet to see #21 back in action on the Monday night clash at Lincoln Financial. The Cowboys will need a full arsenal when traveling to Philly as the big bully will certainly look to avenge past transgressions.
While it’ll probably be a little early for full-blown Northeastern precipitation, you never know what you’ll get in terms of November weather. The good news is there a plethora of running back options to utilize, and when isn’t that a good problem to possess? It’s understood it wouldn’t actually be the Cowboys’ Nation without concerns and controversies, but this is one of those non-issues. Be thankful for the talent and options and turn your worries to something more meaningful, substantive and freightening.
God forbid, but if Drew Bledsoe were to incur the dreaded high ankle sprain, there is no quartet to carry the show. It’s a one man solo effort, and if he isn’t singing and slinging, the masses will truly have a concern worthy of mention.