Jean-Jacques Taylor: Buy George? No interest will pay dividends for Jones
07:51 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Eddie George used to be a great back. He used to be a difference-maker.
He used to be the kind of runner who could will a team to victory.
Sadly, he's no longer any of those things.
He's still a warrior. He'll come to play every Sunday. And there will never be a doubt concerning his effort or intensity.
But you don't pay age in the NFL.
You don't pay for the name on the back of the jersey; you pay for the talent within the player.
Tennessee says George's talent is no longer with $4 million per year. They want to pay him $1.5 million.
An insulted George has asked for his release. He says Dallas is one of three teams he'd like to play for.
At this point, the Cowboys have no interest - and that's a good thing.
George has not missed a game in years, testament to his durability and character.
But that's not to say he hasn't been banged up.
He's had a bad toe. A bad knee. A bad calf. And those are just the health issues we know about.
In his prime, George was a workhouse. He carried the ball with a ferocity few have.
And he has paid a price.
He's no longer a dominant runner. He averaged only 3.3 yards per carry last season.
He'll be 31 in September.
To most, he is young man. To the NFL, he's just about ready for Social Security.
There's no need for George in Dallas. This team isn't ready to win a Super Bowl, so it doesn't need a security blanket like George.
This team needs to let Julius Jones carry the ball 320 times so he can learn the nuances of the NFL and make rookie mistakes that will make him that much better in his second year.
Every carry George would have wearing a star on the side of his helmet would be one fewer chance for Jones to gain valuable experience.
George has had his turn. Now it's Jones' time.
I have read about how many holes the Cowboys have. Bill Parcells doesn't name starters. He lets the whole world know that each position is pretty much up for grabs, so the perception is that there are a lot of holes. What do you think?
I'll give you credit for imagination, but I don't agree with you. That's because your point suggests that the media buys into whatever Parcells is selling, and I know that's not the case. You can look at the roster and see they don't have a solid right tackle or cornerback. You can also see they have an unproven running back and questions about depth behind their top three receivers. You can look at the stats and see they haven't had a defensive lineman with double-digit sacks since 1996, so there is a hole when it comes to rushing the passer. The holes on the Cowboys' roster have nothing to do with perception and everything to do with reality.
• • •
If it looks like Jamar Martin doesn't fit into the plan for fullback this year, is there any chance for a trade? Even a draft choice next year would be nice.
Daryl Mayer, Leominster, Mass.
I can't see it happening. Why would any team give you anything - even a conditional seventh-round pick - for a one-dimensional player like Martin, who has accomplished little in the league. Dallas would love to get something for him if he's not going to make the team, but I would say it's unlikely.
• • •
I know the Cowboys' defense has been highly regarded the last few seasons, and no doubt they have been outstanding. However, how much of this has to do with the offense? Teams do not fear the Cowboys offensively and so opponents are less likely to open up their offense and take a lot of chances. Your thoughts?
Todd Iverson La Crosse, Wisc.
That's a popular theory, but I don't know how much weight I put into it. You don't luck your way into the type of defense Dallas played much of last season. Now I don't put a whole lot of stock into how the NFL calculates the top defense because it's based solely on yards. But the Cowboys were among the league leaders in points allowed, third-down defense, first-down defense and completion percentage. Let's not qualify why they played good defense. Let's just say they did.
• • •
Last year the Cowboys averaged 18 points a game. What changes have you seen or do you anticipate this year that will allow the Cowboys to become a more consistent offense or will the team still struggle to score at crunch time?
R. Dixon, Brookville, Md.
I have maintained for months that the biggest asset the Cowboys have this year is continuity. This marks the first time Quincy Carter will have the same quarterbacks coach, head coach and offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons. Trust me, that is a big deal. The addition of Keyshawn Johnson should help because this staff knows exactly how to get the most out of him. Julius Jones should also help. I would bet you that Jones will have more yards, touchdowns and a higher average per carry than Troy Hambrick. Those few things alone should make the offense more productive.
• • •
Could you please explain why Dallas seems content to go forward with Julius Jones, who has never played a single down in pro ball? I do not understand this, and as Dallas goes forward, what if Jones has a serious injury, then what? If we are to contend for the division and playoffs, we need a stud running back. I just hope - and it's a huge hope - that Jones can fit the bill.
Steven J. Bone
I don't understand. They needed a runner in the draft, so they took one. They passed on the three players - Stephen Jackson, Kevin Jones and Chris Perry - who most draft experts tagged as the best. But on their draft board, they had Jones rated nearly as high as the other three. Would you be asking the same questions if they had picked Jackson, Kevin Jones or Perry? Probably not. You have to accept the fact that Jones is the guy they coveted and the guy who is supposed to be their featured back.
• • •
Darren Woodson had a solid 2003 season at safety. At 35, No. 28 is nearing the end. How many productive years do you think he has left, and will the presence of Roy Williams help to lengthen his career with the Cowboys?
I think Woody will play two more years at a pretty high level because he keeps himself in such good shape. I do not, however, think Williams is going to extend Woodson's career because Woodson struggles some in coverage, which means he can't play a traditional free safety role the Cowboys need. Free safety would also prevent him from taking such a pounding because he wouldn't be so involved in the running game.
• • •
Knowing that Parcells despises turnovers and players who commit them, would you agree that this is the reason we drafted Julius Jones and traded for Drew Henson? If I recall, each one is exceptional when it comes to avoiding fumbles and interceptions, respectively.
M.J. Klouda, Tyler, Texas
Actually, I don't think that had much to do with it. Henson is a terrific talent who gives the Cowboys a chance to get a big-time quarterback at a cheap rate - at least for awhile - if he plays to his potential. Jones was a good college running back, something Dallas lacked.
• • •
Jason Witten had a good rookie year, and Dan Campbell is solid. Why does Parcells keep looking for more tight ends?
Bob Stair, Dallas, Pa.
He loves the versatility the position gives him. He loves formations with two tight ends because they give balance to the formation, so the defense can't assume that you're running to the strong side. It also helps the running game because they're usually better blockers than fullbacks, especially in today's game. And when you run as many formations with two tight ends as Parcells does, you need four on the roster to give you depth in case of injury.
• • •
I'm assuming that this will be Billy Cundiff's first year to handle the kickoff duties. Just curious, but has his off-season workout regimen been more aggressive this year to prevent his leg from tiring toward the end of the season? Handling the kickoffs, along with a new holder, could have an impact on his ability to kick field goals from a reasonable distance in the second half of the season.
You make some intelligent points. I talked to Cundiff about that during the last minicamp, and he said that his routine in the off-season really hadn't changed that much. He's worked hard to increase his strength to ensure that he's not fatigued during the latter part of the season, but he doesn't think it's that big of a deal. After all, he said, he handled both duties in college. The biggest thing is that if he knows in training camp that he's going to handle kickoffs, he can work on it before the season as opposed to having it thrust on him in the middle of the season.