The revolving door at running back for the Dallas Cowboys seems to have finally stopped turning since the arrival of the talented, if somewhat fragile, DeMarco Murray. That being said, Dallas is still floundering at the bottom of the league in terms of their ground attack and I can’t help but to harken back to some of the miscues and boo-boos that have plagued the Dallas backfield dating back to the departure of Emmitt Smith.
With that in mind, let’s all get out our time-turners ala Hermione Granger and travel back to the year 2004. At that time the Cowboys were in the unenviable position of trying to replace the league’s all-time leading rusher. It seemed that Lady Luck was indeed smiling on the Cowboys when they found themselves in the enviable position of adding Steven Jackson to their roster. Instead, much to the befuddlement of fans and draft forecasters alike, Dallas opted to trade their round one pick to the Buffalo Bills. After that War Room blunder, Dallas selected Julius Jones with their second round pick.
Like the aforementioned Murray, Jones was doomed with the injury bug and was soon sidelined, forcing the Cowboys to rely on veteran Eddie George in his stead. Despite his inauspicious beginning in Dallas, Jones flourished upon his return to action, even besting his brother Thomas of the Chicago Bears in the annual Thanksgiving Day game that same year. It appeared that Dallas had finally found a solution for its backfield woes.
Enter Marion Barber III. After being drafted by the Cowboys in 2005, it didn’t take long for Barber to make an impression on the Cowboys’ faithful. His bruising style was the perfect complement to Jones, as he would pound the opponent into submission after his counterpart wore them down. It seemed as if Dallas had the perfect cast of characters to be a productive force on the ground and the failure to draft Jackson faded into memory. The term “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” was ignored, though, as the Cowboys, gave in to the clamoring from the peanut gallery by promoting Barber to starter and subsequently ushering Jones out of Big D.
As the Cowboys soon found out, Barber’s punishing style simply wasn’t suited for a start to finish role. When called upon to provide his pounding attack for four quarters, his body just couldn’t cash the huge check the Cowboys had given him. Fickle fan favor soon gave way to Barber being blamed for the Cowboys ineffective short yardage game and Felix Jones became the newly crowned favorite in Dallas.
At that point the elephant in the room that was the Cowboys sorry offensive line had largely been ignored by those doing the heckling of Jones, then Barber, followed by Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. By the time that it dawned on the Dallas muck-a-de-mucks that on one, not even the second coming of Emmitt Smith, could carry the rock with success without the proper blocking, the damage was done.
If there is a bright side to this disastrous drama, it is that the Cowboys seem to have turned the corner in terms of rebuilding their OL by making it a priority in the last three out of four drafts. Another cause for optimism has come with the apparent focus on adding a fullback to the roster for 2014.
Despite the drafting blunder of letting Jackson slip through their fingers and the unwise use of the talents of Julius Jones and Barber maybe the apparent change in the Cowboys mindset will bode will for Murray if he can stay healthy and for Cowboys Nation come playoff time.