May 14, 2007
** SOPRANOS SPOILER AHEAD **
Regular readers will have to bear with me these next few weeks in terms of this blog because I’m completely buried with the magazine and I have a ton of personal stuff going on. My oldest son is wrapping up his first year in High School, which is 40 minutes away, playing baseball for the HS team and also for our town’s Babe Ruth team. My other son plays little league (I’m one of his coaches), takes piano, is in school band, and goes to art classes. Oh, and we have 14 month twins to deal with and we’re building a massive addition to our 5-year old house to accommodate them.
I’m also trying to deal with the shock of Christopher Moltisanti dying last night on Sopranos and especially how he died.
But I do have enough time to chime in on Julius Jones, the Cowboy back who has been a disappointment the last two years. I like Jones, but last year I was more inclined to tell people to target Marion Barber. That was the way to go, obviously, but I’m thinking now that the opposite may be true in 2007. One of the reasons I like Barber as a value more than Jones last year was because I knew Bill Parcells loved Barber. But Barber isn’t a featued back in this league, and Parcells is gone. The main problem with Jones is that he’s not physical enough. He doesn’t push the pile, and he goes down too easily. I’m not sure if he’ll get better in this area this year, but I had to reserve judgement on Jones for ’07 because I needed to get a feel for how Wade Philips views him. I know Parcells loved Jones, but he didn’t trust him. Parcells’ opinion, however, means nothing now; it’s all about how Phillips feels about him. I thought Phillips, an easy-going guy, would use Jones and get a feel for how HE feels about him.
I reached out to Mickey Spagnola of dallascowboys.com last week for our “32 Writers Answer 32 Questions” feature for the magazine last week and Mickey said he needed the weekend and the team’s minicamp to get a better feel for Phillips’ feelings on his running game and specifically Julius Jones. Well, the word is in, and here’s Spagnola’s reply:
Q: Julius Jones was the subject of trade rumors in the off-season and he never did fully gain the trust of Bill Parcells. Where does he sit with new head coach Wade Phillips and how would you compare his role in 2007 to his in 2006?
Spanola: Jones still is the Cowboys’ lead running back, and talking with Wade Phillips and new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, you get the feeling they will run more plays conducive to Jones’ particular talents, meaning, draws, stretch plays to the outside, screens – pays that will get him in space so he can use his cutting ability. Jones said he is hoping the new staff will allow him to return to being an “instinctive” runner, instead of the robotic one he became under Bill Parcells. It would appear his role will be expanded this year, although, he did carry the ball 267 times last year. The guess would be he would like some of those carries to be inside the 20 and closer to the goal line, where running backs can get rewarded for their hard work in those previous 80 yards.
Now I’ve also heard that Jones might still be on the move, but assuming a trade doesn’t go down, Jones is looking like a solid value, especially in leagues that typically draft the lower-end starters at the position as late as the 5th, 6th, or even a few rounds later.
This is a big year for Julius. He needs to learn from his brother Thomas, who sucked his first two years. If he does, Julius could be a more than a nice value this year.