EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06: Marion Barber #24 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball in the first quarter against Barry Cofield #96 of the New York Giants at Giants Stadium on December 6, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jerry Jones rarely wonders aloud over matters concerning his football team.
To be sure, he expresses his wishes, discusses things as he sees them and, as a general rule, speaks with the authority and intimate knowledge of the team's workings of a head coach--Wade Phillips, for example. And yet, Jones mused yesterday in a radio interview on the role of Marion Barber. Namely:
Should Marion Barber be used more sparingly, in order to maximize his effectiveness?
It is a legitimate question. Barber has been noticeably less effective since becoming the starter in 2008. In the seasons previous, he was used as a specialist of sorts, using his bruising running style as a compliment to the (often ineffective) speed of Julius Jones. Now, Dallas has three runners, including Barber, with three varying styles. Questions like these, of Barber as more of a specialist versus Barber as a primary runner, sat at the heart of Jones' Thursday musings.
"I think the real question is, should he be finishing rather than beginning?” Jones said, on KRLD-FM. “In his Pro Bowl year, where he had his best year, [Barber was] finishing the game. If you recall, Julius Jones started the game. We injected the quickness of his speed there early.
“That would be the issue. It’s not a question of starting as much as it is, when do you use Barber at his best? There are a lot of people, prominent people who know Barber well, who feel like he would be better served used to finish the game than really used a lot at the start.”
One is forced to wonder if one of those "prominent people" who (a) know Barber and (b) see him better served as a specialist, isn't named Jerry Jones. In any case, this is no "the team will play up to the level of the stadium," senility-driven jabberwocky. That is, Jones has a point; however, this point flies in the face of Wade Phillips' remarks earlier this week, as he reaffirmed Barber's role as starter and primary back, sent to "start the game and finish it."
With three backs, Dallas is presented the enviable conundrum of how to best use them. It will be interesting, considering Jones' comments this week, to see how it will play out on the field on Sunday.