Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ironic, isn't it?

Having jettisoned the disappointing Rashard Mendenhall this past off-season, the Steelers have traded for the underwhelming Felix Jones, the running back selected immediately before Mendenhall in the first round of the 2008 draft (21st and 22nd overall). Neither player has lived up to his respective hype.

What do the Steelers want with Jones?  The reports out of Philadelphia say that his skills have eroded and he was about to be cut, even after being signed as a free-agent during the off-season.

Here's what blogger Jimmy Kempski wrote on Bleeding Green Nation after the trade was announced on Friday  ...
Felix Jones is done.
A week ago, I listed my 5 best and 5 worst performances at Eagles training camp. The first name I listed under "worst" was Felix Jones:
Felix Jones: He can't run, catch, pass protect or play special teams anymore. But otherwise, he was great.
Jones had virtually no chance of making the team, so the Eagles did well just to get a body in return for him at a position where they are very thin.
That's nice. It also represents the consensus opinion from Philadelphia.  On top of all that, Jones injured his ribs in his last appearance in an Eagles' uniform. He's passed his physical, though, so now he's a Steeler.

For Steelers' fans, it's another puzzling move.  Frankly, we're still mystified why they tendered/signed Jonathan "Tap Out" Dwyer in the off-season.

Dwyer's focus and motivation seem to go off and on, and off again, his weight fluctuates wildly, he fumbles, and last year, he "tapped out" of games after getting "tired" following a handful of consecutive carries. He's simply not reliable.

If the Steelers think Jones is more reliable than Dwyer, they're in trouble. Maybe the Steelers have no intention of keeping Jones. If that's the case, however, why did they trade for him?

Who will be cut?
The acquisition of Jones signals somebody currently on the roster is gone. Just before last Monday's game vs. the Redskins, we heard Mike Tomlin's pre-game radio interview, during which he called running back Baron Batch by the wrong name, "Byron Batch."  Oh-oh.  Not a good sign.

Even if the Steelers cut Baron Batch, some other running back will also be cut. Maybe it will be off-season free-agent acquisition LaRod Stephens-Howling, whose size and game is similar to that of Jones. Could it be that Howling is hurt more seriously than any of us outsiders know?

Might Isaac Redman be cut?  We'd rather have him than Dwyer.

About That 2008 Draft ...
In any case, adding Felix Jones feels like grasping at a straw in the wind.  It's also a bitter reminder of that 2008 draft. Not one player from that draft is on the Steelers roster today.

Most galling, not to beat a dead horse, to draft Mendenhall, the Steelers passed on Rutgers' Ray Rice, who was no secret to anybody and especially not to Pittsburgh fans who watched Rice trample Pitt and the rest of the Big East during his collegiate career. Now, Rice is arguably the best running back in the NFL and a linchpin for the hated Baltimore Ravens, no less.

Also in that 2008 draft, as Rebecca Rollett points out over at the always-worth-reading Behind the Steel Curtain, the Steelers passed on running backs Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles -- all of whom have been much better than Rashard Mendenhall and, yes, better even than Felix Strinkin' Jones, the 21st overall pick in that draft.

Friday's trade for Felix Jones is probably a non-event. Honestly, though, sometimes we do wonder what the front office is doing, and what the hell they're thinking.

The shelf life for running backs in the NFL is about four years, give or take.  By all accounts, Felix Jones's "Best if Used By" date has expired.  There must be somebody out there who has more upside than Felix Jones.

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