Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Position: Running Back
Size: 5'11, 210
Age: 27, 11/20/84
Drafted: 2008: Round 4, Pick 122
Experience: 3 seasons
Salary History and Contract Status - According to Rotoworld - 2011: $555,000, 2012: Free Agent
2008 Draft Profile From OurLads.com: Tashard Choice - 5'10/215 - 4.53 (40 time) - Two-year starter. Impressive short area quickness. Finishes his runs. Catches the ball in his hands away from his body. Keeps his feet in traffic. Good balance and agility. Runs hard from tackle to tackle. Physical runner. Leaks through the holes quickly. Good vision and running skills. Can see the cutback and make the sudden hop cut in the hole. Downhill runner that runs with power. Competitive runner that will run through a tackle with strength. Solid back that is more than a one speed runner. Flashes some secondary acceleration. Instinctive runner that sets up and follows his blockers. Transferred from Oklahoma. Good lateral quickness. Will play through injuries. A tough kid. A willing blocker. Needs some work, but is not afraid. Doesn't go down easily. Third/Fourth Round.
Pre-2010: To fully understand the plight of Tashard Choice, one would have to fully understand the Cowboys rationale in the spring of 2008. For reasons that I cannot possibly decode, in April of 2008, the Cowboys spent two very valuable draft picks on Running Backs - Felix Jones in the 1st Round and Tashard Choice in the 4th Round. Then, 3-4 weeks later, the Cowboys paid Marion Barber $45 million on a 7 year contract with enough money guaranteed ($12 at signing, at least half virtually promised) that there appeared no reasonable rationale to finding 2 young bucks to carry the position. With Felix Jones, you could at least understand the 2-back attack with 2 players with varied skills. But, with Tashard Choice, they took a 3rd back who would either not play - or play because of injury. In his rookie season, he did get a chance because Felix Jones and Marion Barber spent time hurt. In fact, by December, he was trying to help save the team's season - being a primary back against some of the best defenses in the NFL - Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia. All things considered, he did very well, with over 5 yards a carry. The negative was that he was being defeated with blitzes and a pass rush assignments on a routine basis, so the Cowboys were forced to go almost exclusively to the shotgun because they could not trust his pass protection and had nowhere else to turn. 2009 saw greater health to Barber and Jones, so Choice never had too much of a role on a week to week basis. He did have a great day in Kansas City and helped the Cowboys to an amazing year of running the ball, but again, his pass blocking and blitz recognition was counted against him. 5.5 yards a carry was very impressive, but the Cowboys looked elsewhere when they wanted to throw the ball - thus limiting his role in the game plans.
2010: Last season, Tashard seemed to really attempt to improve leading up to the year. You could tell that he understood his responsibilities much better and was then more able to pick up rushers. However, the Cowboys were far more interested in getting Felix Jones as many touches as possible, and allowed Felix to take over the very important 3rd Down/2-min Drill offense responsibilities in "11" personnel, and when that happened, the spot for Choice was almost completely erased. From Week 4 in Minnesota through Week 6 against the Giants, Choice played a total of 1 play. Further, his job on special teams was ultimately reduced and phased out because it appeared his effort had diminshed. On one particular kick return against New Orleans, he was tossed 5 yards back by Anthony Hargrove and then called out by Jerry Jones in the media for poor play. From that point, he was taken off special teams for the game against Philadelphia. His productivity dipped to 3.7 yards per carry and his 220 plays were a career low. His pass protection really improved, but everything else for Choice went quickly in the wrong direction. He did have a bright performance against the Colts after Barber was hurt, but there is really very little about 2010 that went well for Choice.
2011 Analysis: So, what is his future? Many of us believed the Cowboys were comfortable with him as Felix Jones' backup. It has been said in the media countless times that Choice may be the Cowboys most complete back. With Barber clearly out of the picture in 2011, it seemed that Choice would finally get a serious look. And then, in the 2011 draft, the Cowboys spent a 3rd Round pick on DeMarco Murray, sending everyone to wonder if Felix Jones and Choice will both have to compete for their places. Given that Tashard is due just over $500k in 2011, it would seem a long-shot that his roster spot is in jeopardy, but with each Twitter and autograph story, you do wonder if the team's view of Choice is anywhere near the public's view. He has a very magnetic personality, but the presence of Murray, the performance in the 2010 season, and the fact that Choice seems anxious to get a chance to play more of a role (he turns 27 this season and is actually 30 months older than Felix) does make one wonder if things are coming to a head. His spot in this team's plans is anyone's guess after the selection of Murray and the emergence of Felix Jones in full-time duty. And honestly, Choice might be fine with a change of scenery if he were given the choice.