Felix Jones set a new career high for touches in a game against the Vikings last Sunday. He ran the ball 14 times and caught 10 passes, a workload that fulfills the deepest wishes of the many Cowboys fans who got down on their knees and prayed to Tom Landry's hat for Jones to play an expanded role in the team's offense.
The on-field results were mixed. He managed only 32 yards on the ground, a feeble total that had more than a little to do with the stout Vikings defense. His role in the passing game was a pleasant surprise, because getting the ball to Jones in space should pay off well for the offense. That wasn't really the case on Sunday. He gained only 61 yards on the receptions and it looked like his role as a receiver was a symptom of a Cowboys offense that didn't challenge down the field nearly enough.
The biggest drawback to the expanded role came when the Cowboys went to the locker room during halftime, however. According to Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas, Jones spent the break vomiting and needed an I.V. because he was wearing down from being used so much. Anyone who's watched the Cowboys this season can sympathize with the need to puke, but most of us wait until the end of the game to actually visit the porcelain.
Taken together, those are two pretty big blows to those who believe the Cowboys were somehow selling themselves short by not making him the feature back. Those backs need to be able to have the ball in their hands 25-30 times a week and they need to be just as strong in the fourth quarter as they are in the first 10 minutes. Jones couldn't make it 30 minutes without losing his lunch and needing medical attention.
In fact, by converting five first downs on short yardage runs, Marion Barber made his strongest case in quite some time for holding onto at least a co-top spot in the pecking order. As exciting and explosive as Jones is when he's at his best, the Cowboys can't just turn their running game over to a guy whose entire career has been a lot of waiting for relatively little action.
What they really need, of course, is a guy who combines Barber's grit with Jones's glitz. That's not going to just materialize out of thin air, however, so the Cowboys running game remains a work in progress.
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