IRVING (AP) — Julius Jones felt he was running “like a robot” at times last season, confined by what he was being told to do by his coach and how he was being used by the Dallas Cowboys.
“I was being told a little bit where to run and not really being able to use my instincts,” Jones said Sunday. “Maybe I listened to coach Parcells a little too much and was kind of running like a robot … I was being coached and just listening to my coach.”
Even though he became the first Cowboys running back since Emmitt Smith in 2001 to have a 1,000-yard season and started every game, Jones became unsure of his role. He rarely played on third down or in goal-line situations, then averaged only 11 carries the final five games.
“It was confusing,” he said. “They tried to tell me what my role was, and it didn’t really show on the field. I didn’t know, but this year is a brand new start and I look forward to it.”
That’s because Bill Parcells is no longer around.
Parcells, the ever-demanding coach who in 2004 bypassed Steven Jackson and later got Jones in the same draft, retired after last season and was replaced by Wade Phillips.
“Everything is brand new. Plays are new, perception is new. Just a new start for everybody,” Jones said. “The coaches, I like the way they operate. Things are a little bit more laid back. … Playing in a system like that, where you have freedom and you like the guy you’re playing for, you’re going to win a lot more games.”
Being away from Texas also helped Jones, who is going into the final year of his contract, avoid hearing talk about the possibility of the Cowboys trading him. Owner Jerry Jones has insisted such conversations were prompted by other teams inquiring about the running back and not the Cowboys trying to move him.