|The Cowboys' running game is in shambles and losing Jones doesn't help. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
In addition to concerns about the Cowboys' ultra-conservative play-calling late in the game against the Patriots Sunday, there's more bad news for an offense that has received plenty of criticism this season: the high-ankle sprain running back Felix Jones suffered in Foxboro will keep him out for a considerable time, which means he'll be sidelined for Week 7 and likely beyond.
Jones left in the first half with just 14 rushing yards on eight attempts. And his backups didn't fare much better. Tashard Choice rushed five times for 14 yards, and DeMarco Murray rushed 10 times for 32 yards. This came against the NFL's 25th-ranked run defense, according to Football Outsiders. Unfortunately, the Cowboys' run offense is dead last.
And we saw why Sunday. Inexplicably, the Cowboys decided to run the ball late in the game and, predictably, it cost them. Even Dallas owner Jerry Jones knew that. "You'll always second-guess whether or not we should have tried to run a little offense down there instead of running it three times. We went conservative rather than try to get some points and it bit us."
Jones, according to Yahoo.com's Michael Silver, had some additional thoughts on the drive in question. “When you get in a situation like that, you’ve got to go for the kill,” Jones said. “I felt like we could’ve been more aggressive. Our defense had been good all day, but you knew Brady had a length-of-the-field drive in him -- so it didn’t surprise me at all when he took them down at the end.”
Even with Felix Jones out, NBC reported Sunday night that Choice was on the trading block.
Whoever's in the backfield, the Cowboys have to be able to run the ball.
"We've got to be more consistent with it," tight end Jason Witten said of the running game, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "[The Patriots] are big up front. We knew that. But we have to be better at it. There are no excuses. You have to find ways to run."
Whatever fate awaits Choice, Murray, a rookie and former third-round pick, says he's ready for a bigger workload with Jones out.
"When I get an opportunity when I'm in there, I'm just going to try to make plays and continue to work hard," he said. "I think Felix is going to make a full recovery. I think he'll be fine. He's tough. He's a fighter."
In other injury-related goings-on, there's more bad news for Dallas. Starting guard Bill Nagy will likely miss the rest of the season with a broken ankle suffered during the Patriots game. CBS Rapid Reporter Nick Eatman writes that veteran Derrick Dockery has been out for three weeks with a broken tibia/sprained knee. If he's not ready to return, outside help at guard could be on the way.
UPDATED 8:44 p.m. ET: Garrett said today that he and Jones had a good conversation today about Sunday's game.
"I think everyone is well intended," Garrett said. "Everybody is passionate about it, and when you lose a ballgame like that sometimes things are said and you've just got to kind of understand what the environment is, process it and move on. We all went up there and we swung the bat hard against New England. ... We came out on the short end of it. We've got to somehow process that and go forward. We have a great challenge this week against St. Louis."
And though he might not have intended for it to sound this way, some of his comments made it appear that he wasn't really blaming the coaches for Dallas' inadequacies.
"We work these situations over and over and over again, in hopes that when we get in those situations, we can execute ball plays to allow us to win," Garrett said. "At the end of this thing it comes down to execution, and we have to be able to block them, we have to be able to run, we have to be able to throw and catch, we have to be able to tackle, we have to be able to catch the ball on defense, make a play. And as coaches, what we're trying to do is put our players in a position to do that as well as we can."
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