Ever since Emmitt Smith, the Dallas Cowboys have had a committee in the backfield do what one future Hall of Famer did for over ten seasons.
That’s so cliche. The reality is we’ve only had one 1,000-yard rusher since then, and he was a nicked-up scatback that many people, to this day, lament we took over Steven Jackson. So we’ve had nothing but bureaucracy out of this “runningback by committee.”
Here’s the strange thing though. It’s not like we’ve got a bunch of bums in the backfield or we’re like Horseteeth in Washington when he could plug in different runningbacks each season out in Denver. Felix Jones is a very talented runningback worthy of his first round status. Demarco Murray is another very talented runningback who has surpassed his third round status. So with these two runningbacks, we know what we have.
You know, I remember talking to a notorious underground scout about Demarco Murray and Tony Fiammetta. Remember Tony Fiammetta? Remember how everyone could ape they were a runningbacks coach by talking about Tony Fiammetta’s importance last season? Anyway, the notorious underground scout said Demarco Murray worked so well was because his vision matched with Tony Fiammetta’s vision. So they were seeing things similarly and there was a simpatico.
Now we’ve got Lawrence Vickers. Hey — and I hate to use that interjection because it’s Mickey Spagnola’s favorite word –, he had a lot to do with Arian Foster’s success, not to take anything away from that talented back. But Lawrence Vickers will be to our runningbacks what the lightning shield power-up was to Sonic in Sonic 3: we’ll be able to reach new heights.
What about our third runningback? You know, in 2009 and 2010, we thought we had it made with Tashard Choice until he started playing too much like Cuba Gooding, Jr. instead of just resembling him. In a lot of ways, Phillip Tanner filled that void. How could you root against him when he ran for that touchdown against the Chargers in preseason with no helmet? I know it didn’t count, but that’s the kind of effort we like to see out of our runningbacks here in Dallas. But there are rumors abounding that he’s on the way out. Could it be that Lance Dunbar from up I-35 will supplant Tanner? Then we’ve got Darrell Scott from the University of South Florida that’s vying for a spot on the roster.
Competition is a good thing. And it will be evident at our third runningback position.
On bright computer monitors, the Cowboys’ runningback situation looks enviable. But we all saw what happened in 2008 and even last year in October and December: injuries galore. That’s why I hope Peete, Callahan, and Garrett are installing a system in place and have the right character guys to keep our backfield stable during such injury turbulence.
Whatever the case, this will all make for an interesting case to observe come training camp and all the way to Week 4 of preseason.