Sunday's loss to the Jaguars was so ugly and the record is now so bad that not even Jerry Jones can continue to deny that the rest of the 2010 season will be nothing but a glorified audition process for the future.
One of the players who will be fighting for his spot on the roster going forward is Marion Barber, and we're going to come out and call him the loser in this fight already. After all, he can't even fight for one yard when his team desperately needs it so why should we think he's going to put up enough of a fight to stick around for the 2011 season?
Let's take things back to the final 15 seconds of the first half. It's third down and the Cowboys have the ball on the Jaguars' one with a chance to cut their deficit to a manageable 14-10 before getting a breather. Barber, the man who just last week had his spot affirmed by the team's owner because he runs hard, was in the game and poised to change his team's fortunes on a day that got off to a brutal start.
Alas, it wasn't to be. Barber got stuffed on third down and got stuffed again on fourth down, although the replay officials did take a long look before giving the ball back to the Jags. Unless they were just gobsmacked that a guy who is hyped to the heavens as a short yardage back of the highest order couldn't gain a single yard on two carries, we're not sure why they did. Barber wasn't close to getting into the end zone and there wasn't a single member of the Cowboys who seemed inclined to argue that he had snuck a ball over the goal line.
There were problems outside of Barber on both plays. The blocking was hardly outstanding either time and Barber collided with Jon Kitna on the fourth down attempt, but none of that makes Barber look any better. This is a guy who is on this team to play the inside running complement to Felix Jones's outside explosiveness -- check that, purported outside explosiveness -- and he was totally unable to provide it when his team needed it most.
We've given Jason Garrett loads of crap over the last few years for his unwillingness to commit to the running game, but watching Barber (and Jones, for that matter) yesterday actually made us feel like he deserved a bit of an apology. It's hard to commit to doing something when the guys responsible for executing it are totally unable to get the job done.
We can play the chicken/egg thing for hours about whether or not that inability is caused by the lack of commitment, but it will only leave us with the same conclusion: It's time to make a big change in the Cowboys running game and moving on from Barber looks like the logical place to start.
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