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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The myth of the change of pace back

Hot position battle #2 is the backup RB. Julius Jones looks like a star. Regardless of any promise the backup candidates have shown, it probably doesn’t matter. Any of them might be serviceable. But I’m afraid if Julius goes down, Parcells will play his “I can’t trust these guys” card and have Bledsoe throw too much. Like last year.

Parcells has stated a desire for a “change of pace back.” Probably because “change of pace back” has become a cliché, and the media loves the idea. Let’s see, Julius Jones is fast and powerful. What exactly is the change of pace from that? Do we really need a slow runner that can’t break tackles?

A less obvious variation that means the same thing is “complimentary.” We need a back to complement the starting tailback. Unless this means a back that tells the starter he’s a handsome man every day, I don’t get the need, if you have a back that pretty much does it all.

Emmitt was fast, powerful, and could catch. What’s his ideal backup? I’m asking, for real. There is a right answer.

The right answer to complement Emmitt was… another fast, powerful back that could catch. They never really had one of any lasting quality. Chris Warren was probably the best of the backups during Emmitt’s time. Otherwise it was the plodding Lincoln Kennedy or quick, small, drugged out Sherman Williams.

Thankfully, Parcells has also said that when it comes to Julius’s backup, he has to look at “what if Julius goes down?” If you’ve got a change of pace guy, who probably is one-dimensional, that becomes the pace, and you’re back to looking for someone who can do it all, or at least do most things well.

Finally, Parcells wants backups that contribute on special teams. So, he wants a change of pace back that can fill in for Julius for an extended period if needed and plays special teams.

The Canidates:

Tony Thomas looks kind of plodding. Not Ed George plodding, but, umm, Ed George plodding when Ed was good. He wasn’t paid a fortune to come to Dallas, so I don’t think he’ll stick just because he was a free agent signee. Like in Chicago, he seems to have gotten the “can’t catch” label. But as far as I know, he hasn’t been a fumbler.

Marion Barber III fumbled in a game, and drew Parcells’ wrath for fumbling twice during camp. He missed the Houston game with a foot infection. He hasn’t looked special, but hasn’t looked bad at all. He was a 4th round pick, though that may have been too high, and I think if he were cut, he’d have good chance to clear waivers and be signed to the practice squad, but I kind of doubt they’ll do that.

Tyson Thompson was undrafted, but has been the most impressive of the three. He’s shown blazing speed and against Houston he was a willing inside runner.

I think they keep all three, and FB Lousaka Polite. I think the noise about keeping four TE’s is just that, noise. None but Witten have caught a pass, and either Sean Ryan or Brett Pierce would likely clear and make the practice squad. I’d rather risk losing one of them than one of the RB’s.

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