The Dallas Cowboys have made the playoffs just four times since 2001, and have won just one playoff game in the last decade. Now consider the fact that the last time the Dallas Cowboys had a running-back who rushed for over 1,000 yards was Julius Jones in 2006. Before that you would have to go back to 2001 when the great Emmitt Smith eclipsed the century mark for the last time in his career. See any correlation?
There has been much speculation the past few years about why the team once dubbed as “America’s Team” has been struggling, but the bottom line is, they haven’t had a go to running-back. Outside of Julius Jones’ 2006 season and 2007 season with Jones and Marion Barber, they just haven’t been effective at all.
When the Cowboys went 13-3 in 2007 Barber was just shy of 1,000 yards and is one of very few back-up running-backs to not only rush for more yardages and touchdowns than the starter, but to make the Pro-Bowl as well. Since being named the starter in 2008 Marion has been everything but the “Barbarian”. This past year, Barber ran for a career low 3.3 yards per attempt and despite starting ten games, Marion only ran for four touchdowns. That’s less than he scored as a rookie when he only started two games.
With all signs now pointing towards Barber’s release, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will be left to shoulder the load. Don’t get me wrong, Jones and Choice are great complimentary running-backs, but can either one be a feature back they can build a team around? Can either one take the beating a starting back takes and still produce?
When given the opportunity, Choice has done nothing but impress, yet for some reason, the Cowboys continue to diminish his role, despite him averaging an impressive 4.8 yards per carry on 222 career attempts. Felix Jones is not the home-run threat he once was. He appears to have put on some weight over the last two seasons and seemingly doesn’t know how to use it on the field. While he still may display some speed, he isn’t the kind of guy you want running the ball on a 4th and inches on the goal line.
So what happens now? Enter former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Ingram’s running style is very similar to that of Emmitt Smith. Ingram's quickness, power, vision and agility are all reminiscent of the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Not only would Ingram give their offense a major upgrade, he is reliable and the type of player you can count on.
Ingram can help bring the Cowboys running game back to prominence and help get this team back on top. The Cowboys may have other areas they need to upgrade, but upgrading the running-back position is will help make those weak spots look stronger. Ingram has the vision and initial burst to get through the line of scrimmage, something that Choice and Jones don’t. And with a running game to take time off the clock, the Dallas defense will have some time to make adjustments on the sideline and get some rest. So in a sense, drafting Ingram not only immediately upgrades their backfield, but it will also help out the offensive line play and defense as well.
The Cowboys hold the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. At the moment, experts are predicting the Cowboys will take Colorado Buffaloes OT, Nate Solder with Nebraska CB, Prince Amukamara or Purdue OLB/DE Ryan Kerrigan as possibilities as well. Mark Ingram should still be available at the 9th pick as it’s been suggested that he doesn’t go unto the Miami Dolphins at #15. If Mark Ingram is available when Dallas is on the clock, I as a Cowboys fan, hope they make what I consider the smart move and take him. Drafting Ingram is essentially the starting point to getting this team back to the top, where the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s Team” belongs.
Andrew writes for EE Sports World and is a coach for the 2010 State Champion Emery South Dakota High School football team. He’s been on the air at KMT Radio in Mitchell, SD since 2007 and also runs and maintains the High School team website.
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