Rod Smith is a better option than Darren McFadden? The Cowboys seem to think so.
Everyone expected Darren McFadden to take on a role of Ezekiel Elliott’s replacement before the season as starting running back for the Dallas Cowboys since Elliott got suspended. In 2015, he was a great replacement for DeMarco Murray and overall he used to be a successful starter in the NFL before his days with the Cowboys.
However, Alfred Morris stepped up and completely beat him out of that job. And it was expected, to be honest. Morris was a two-time Pro Bowl running back during his days with the Redskins. We would go so far as to say that he deserves to be a starter somewhere. Therefore, falling behind Morris is not that bad actually. No shame in it for sure.
On the other hand, falling behind Rod Smith is strange. Rod Smith is Jaylon Smith’s brother, and many people know him only because of that. Seeing those three games without Elliott, it was clear that Smith would have a decent amount of playtime. Smith, not McFadden. It seems like the Cowboys wanted to use his roster spot for a hole elsewhere. And two days later Darren McFadden retired. Why did the Cowboys give Smith a go instead of McFadden? Scott Linehan might have cleared that up a bit during his interview for The Dallas Morning News.
‘He’s a good matchup in the pass protection game, has good hands and a nice feel of the passing game,’ Linehan claimed. ‘So his experience that he’s getting is on the job. He was doing a little bit of that for us when he was below Zeke but now he’s got kind of a full-time role.’
What’s even more interesting is the fact that replacing Ezekiel Elliott is a job that consists of two more separate ones. What do we mean by that? Well, the first one is to substitute Elliott, the runner. Morris is excellent in that segment, and there’s no doubt that he was the best equipped to do that. He may not be as good as Elliott, but as a replacement, he does the job quite well.
But Morris can’t do all of the other things that Elliott does on a regular basis. He can’t catch passes, he can’t help as a pass-blocker. No home runs are expected from him. But still, Smith was a better fit than aging McFadden. In the end, if McFadden planned to retire he probably wasn’t suited to be a starter or have a major role in the team that has the ambition of winning the Super Bowl.
If we consider those things, Smith’s rise was reasonable. If we don’t have Elliott, we have to find someone who can do his job while he’s out. Morris was never going to be the one who could do that, and neither was McFadden. Therefore, Smith is a role player in the best way possible. The Cowboys needed him to fill that position, he did exactly that. McFadden didn’t want to, and he is no longer with the team. Reasonable and crystal clear.