Cowboys mothball their latest offensive weapon

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 27, 2008



It's our Sunday night ritual, sifting through NFL game stats and results (in between rounds of rye whiskey), while looking for a numerical edge on the lesser web sites.
 
With our unmatched ability to draw storylines from numbers, this ritual is the foundation of the Cold, Hard Football Facts and our superior method of sports analysis.
 
But  sometimes you don't need to be a rye-pounding Troll for a simple little digit to leap out at you like Johnny Lawrence jumping Danny Larusso after the big Halloween dance. 
 
One number that leaps out Sunday night is the big, fat, roly-poly (and quite Troll-like) zero next to the name "Felix Jones" in the Redskins-Cowboys score sheet.
 
The Redskins shocked the Cowboys in Dallas, 26-24, to gum up the logjam that is the NFC East playoff race (is it too early to call it a playoff race?).
 
Jones didn't touch the ball once on offense.
 
He was in uniform. No report of injury. He just never got the ball. (He did return a few kicks, with little success.)
 
Normally, that wouldn't mean much. After all, Jones is a mere rookie pup playing in the backfield with one of the most bruising ball-carriers in the NFL, Marion Barber.
 
But Jones has proved absolutely explosive as the counterpoint to Barber's bull-like gorings of NFL defenses on the streets of this Pamplona of pigskin that is the Dallas offense.
 
Jones has carried the ball just 18 times in the first three games of the year, but he ripped off 148 yards – a gaudy average of 8.2 YPA. He also scored 2 TDs.
 
Nice numbers, though a very small sample size.
 
However, there's a reason Dallas grabbed this former Darren McFadden back-up with a first-round pick in the 2008 draft: Jones did the same exact thing in college.
 
Jones ripped off 1,162 yards as a junior with the Razorbacks last year – on just 133 attempts! That's an average of 8.7 YPA for those of you keeping score at home. Beattie Feathers surely beamed with pride from the great big end zone in the sky.
 
During his three-year career at Arkansas, Jones carried the ball 386 times for 2,956 yards, or 7.7 YPA.
 
And he put up these gaudy numbers on an offense in which Heisman candidate McFadden averaged 6.3 YPA in his best year of 2005 (176 for 1,113 yards) and 5.8 YPA over this three-year Heisman-worthy career (785 for 4,590).
 
Sure, McFadden was the centerpiece of the offense, and besides getting hand-offs often took snaps from center (Ronnie Brown basically executed the McFadden-led Arkansas offense during Miami's shocking 38-13 win over New England in Week 3).
 
So defenses were geared up to stop McFadden. We're not saying Jones was better than McFadden (or better than Barber the Bull).
 
But there's no doubt that Jones is explosive. He was explosive at Arkansas. He's been explosive in his few short games with Dallas.
 
Yet in a big divisional battle that turned into an upset two-point loss, in a critical game in which the Dallas offense was largely inefficient by their standards, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips forget to pull this explosive weapon out of his arsenal.
 
He might live to regret the decision in a division in which a loss in September will look critical come December.

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