In the midst of a dull news day, and too much editorializing about the training camps, but few takes worth taking to heart, I found this article by Mike Sando, how do you say?, revealing.
"I definitely have a chip on my shoulder," he said. "I'm going to carry it every single year, every single practice, every single game. It's not going anywhere until I can prove what kind of back that I am and kind of redeem myself from the embarrassment that they have kind of put me through."
That’s Julius Jones, and the embarrassment he was put through was being benched in favor of a far superior back, Marion Barber. Now, is Barber an absolute superior back, or simply a superior back in the Cowboys system, playing alongside the Cowboys personnel? It actually doesn’t matter. Dallas didn’t have the luxury of switching out their blockers and playbook to suite Jones’ needs. Somehow, Barber and Dallas scrapped by.
Jones continues the chest thumping with this misguided bit of machismo
"The way I feel about being a running back is, everybody in the NFL can run the ball," Jones said. "There are a select few that will stick their nose in there and be willing to stand up to a Julian Peterson or a Lofa Tatupu. I think that separates the men from the boys."
At the start, this is an innocuous article. I don’t really care that Jones talks big, but I wonder how he missed Marion Barber completely outclassing him the past two seasons in Dallas. This turn, however, veers off the bridge.
But if the term "running back by committee" becomes the mantra in Seattle, it means the team doesn't have a marquee back.
If by “marquee” Sando means “headlining” and if by headlining he means “receiving the vast majority of the carries”, then…
And that is what he means.
Jones wants more than anything to emerge as an every-down back. Despite all those starts in Dallas, his carries never exceeded 267 in a season. Alexander averaged 330 carries per season while averaging 1,501 yards and 17.4 rushing touchdowns during a five-year stretch.
See, averaging 330 carries a season is part of why Alexander is now a flat foot Bedouin in a harsh, harsh sandstorm. Because he sucks. Because he sucks from overuse. And teams won’t employ him due to the overt sucking.
"It sucks," Jones said of the diminished touches. "I'm not an arrogant guy; I'm not a cocky guy. But I just know what I can do. I've been playing for a while and I've proven myself. When given the opportunity, I make things happen. I just want an opportunity. That's all I want."
There you have it. Holmgren is set in ways. Jones is already taking his cause to the big guns. Adjust your fantasy rankings accordingly. Julius Jones will be Seattle’s feature back. And the football luddites burn down the factory at which they work.
"All I know is what Julius can do," the Seahawks running back said, "and he can do a lot. He is a big-time back. … I want to get back to that. I want to show everybody."
So are we, in a word, horsed? No, not really. Though I unequivocally prefer a committee backfield to a feature back, over the course of one season, it’s not that important. Jones may shorten his career, push his perceived value head and shoulders above his actual value, and add a little hot air to the sagging myth of the feature back, but those consequences won’t roost until at least 2009. By then, Holmgren will be gone, Jones will be cheap and tradable, perhaps afloat atop a shiny 2008, and (GooD GoD PleasE!!) the standing mix of management and coaching will l embrace a rich, multi-headed, non-superstar backfield. Or re-sign Jones to a burdensome contract he'll default on the following season. I mean, y'know, it's all football.