Disappointing Byron Jones Loses Playing Time

Byron Jones has been on the field for 733 plays - more than any other Cowboys' defender this season - and he has four pass deflections, three tackles for loss and an interception.

Now, you know why he's sharing his safety position with Kavon Frazier, who's in his third year.

The reality is Jones has yet to become the player the Cowboys thought they were getting when they took him in the first round.

He hasn't been a play-maker. He hasn't been consistently physical. [[459650663,R]]

He hasn't made enough plays, even though he's been on the field for 93 percent of the Cowboys' defensive plays. He still played 45 of 60 snaps Thursday against Washington and finished with four tackles and little impact.

It was his lowest snap count of the season.

Frazier made six tackles, one for a loss, in 21 snaps, and provided a physical presence the Cowboys have been missing most of the year.

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Jones, a terrific athlete, was billed as a player who had range and could make plays on the ball. Well, he's started 39 games and he has two interceptions and a forced fumble.

Now, he's playing for his job. The Cowboys told Jones early last week that he would be rotating every two series Kavon Frazier.

"It's about competition. We're trying to have guys compete in practice and compete in games for the opportunity to play," Garrett said. "Kavon took advantage of his of opportunity and Byron did a nice job as well. That's a healthy dynamic on your football team."

Frazier made a difference in the Cowboys' 38-14 win over Washington, and he'll get an opportunity to do it again Sunday against the New York Giants.

Frazier attacks the run; Jones doesn't. Frazier can be a liability in coverage, so the Cowboys try to limit his exposure in the passing game.

But the good thing about Frazier is he does a good job making plays against the run at the line of scrimmage - even if he's lined up at deep safety.

He made several form tackles and created an energy on defense.

"Kavon really took advantage of the opportunity that he got. He's a physical tackler.," Garrett said. "He didn't play a perfect game, but he certainly played with confidence.

"He's a physical guy, who loves to play and a lot of times that can be contagious throughout your defense. He certainly made his presence felt with some of the big hits he made out there."

Garrett and the coaching staff started making changes after raggedy defensive performances against Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Diego. The Cowboys were outscored 92-22, including 72-6 in the second half.

They gave up 411.3 yards, 142.6 rushing, and 30.6 points per game.

Garrett and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli had to do something.

So they told Jones he was rotating with Frazier and they benched cornerback Anthony Brown for Chido Awuzie, a second-round pick.

"We just felt like we needed to play better on the back end," Garrett said. "We felt like we had some guys who were deserving of an opportunity based on what they've done in practice and the limited opportunity they had in games.

"That was important for our team," said Garrett, "and I think everybody responded the right way - the guys getting the opportunity  and the guys who had some of their reps reduced.

"It's all about performance and production and we need them to be productive in the ballgame and do what we're asking them to do.

"Do things that they're supposed to do. Understand their assignments and execute those assignments and show up in the games and be productive."

Jones has evolved into a player who's OK at a several things - he can cover tight ends, he can play corner and he can play inside when the Cowboys use five or six defensive backs - but he's mastered nothing.

That's why his starting position is tenuous.

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