I'm glad Bob Sturm channeled some objectivity and some courage in order to point out what is killing Dallas' running game. Felix Jones is the "convenient", "easy" scape-goat for many in the DFW media and for some. However, Jones averaged 4.5 YPC in 2011; and his numbers were close to Murray's that year. The Rams game really helped Murray last year.
I watched the Baltimore game, and I saw Jones and Murray combine for 185 yards rushing and 1 TD and 32 attempts. That was Dallas' best offensive game of the season, imo. Those rushing lanes have been a distant memory for a good while. Moreover, I'm still shocked by that loss. The Cowboys lost Phil Costa's run blocking in the first half of the Carolina game. That really hurt the running game, because Costa was excellent against Haloti Ngata. The Cowboys destroyed Baltimore by running inside. Costa is a good run blocker, and he played in 2 games. The Cowboys need to address the center position in the off-season, imo. Losing Martellus Bennett's edge run blocking has hurt big, too. I can recall one run in the Carolina game where I think Bennett's size and strength against a defensive lineman could have helped spring a 40 yard TD for Jones. It was just a small crack, but the field was wide open. If Jones gets through, he's gone.
Would anyone argue against re-placing any of offensive linemen not named Tyron Smith? I sure wouldn't. I don't know how you do that. Dallas' offensive line has been broken since before the start of the 2010 season, and Felix Jones put up 800 rushing yards (185 rushes) and a 4.3 YPC that year. The 2012 run blocking makes the 2010 unit look great.
This year, DeMarco Murray had that rough 3 game stretch or the 3/5 below 50 yards rushing that Sturm references in support of his position. Also, Murray had 13 negative runs during his first 4 games. Murray averaged 2.6 YPC during that three game stretch against Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Chicago. After week 4, the Cowboys ranked 30th in rush offense. Felix Jones had 3 rushes. The Cowboys did open some inside holes for Murray against the Giants during the second half. Murray went 12-111 in the second half of that game, but his 48 yard run was crazy.
After the 2010 season, Bob Sturm called Felix Jones a "foundation piece". You can see it here. He talks about "fixing the offensive line", too.
Some people want to point the finger at Felix Jones, however, the run blocking has failed him miserably this season. This year Jones has quality, good games against Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Not getting Jones the football nearly enough in Atlanta (9
-39 / 4.3 YPC) helped prove fatal in that game. However, no one really cared to report it or hold the coaches accountable for that fact. The next week, Jones gets it 16 times and averages 4.4 YPC and rushes for 71 yards. However, the Cowboys got away from Jones in that game and lost control of the game. They didn't go back to him at the start of the 2nd half, either. I think the Carolina game will serve Jones very well, because he really showed his toughness in that game. Felix was at 4.8 YPC in the second half
of the Cleveland game, but that 2nd half mark was killed by the 3 goal-line carries (at his own end). Also, Dallas went back to running what worked in the Philadelphia and Atlanta games (during the second half of the Cleveland game). Why couldn't they just do that in the first half?
If you put Felix Jones behind Denver's line, he's gong off. He just might get his chance, too. I look for Felix to end up in Denver, Green Bay, or Atlanta next year. I think Jones will get a great chance to start despite the tough numbers this year, and he will not cost a fortune for the team that signs him. I can see Jones running, catching and running, and blocking for Peyton Manning next year. If not, I see Green Bay and Atlanta as good fits. Green Bay needs a running back who can do all three things. I think they would be interested in Felix, and I'd be interested in seeing what their coaching staff could do with him. However, Denver's offensive line is one of the best run blocking lines in the NFL.
Maybe, the Cowboys can fix the offensive line/run blocking before DeMarco Murray's rookie deal is up. Some better coaching wouldn't hurt, either. Jones has battled very poor run blocking and the coaches during his time in Dallas.