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Dallas Cowboys Times’ Final 2009 Defense Grades, Player Rankings

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As we close in on completing our 2009 “Grading the ‘Boys” Series (we have just the tight ends and Tony Romo left to grade), we can begin to piece together a list of player rankings.  Today comes the defense.

You can find each individual defensive position study here: defensive linemen, inside linebackers, outside linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties. In-depth statistics for each player can be found in the gallery at the bottom of the article.

A few notes before reading:

  • This is not a comprehensive list of everyone who played defense last season, but rather those players who participated in enough plays to gather statistically significant results.
  • It is also not a ranking of the best defensive players, but rather a list of the most important players to the team (as we see it) in 2009.  For example, we don’t think Jay Ratliff is less talented than Keith Brooking, but we do think Brooking’s play and leadership were comparable to Ratliff’s in 2009.
  • Lastly, players listed in blue are those we expect to improve in 2010.  We anticipate a decline in production from those players listed in red, and neither a vast improvement or deterioration in play from those listed in black.

1.  Demarcus Ware:  94.0 (A)

Tallied a ridiculous 56 quarterback pressures last season–20 more than any other outside linebacker in the NFL

2.  Anthony Spencer:  92.0 (A-)

Racked up 28 more tackles and 1.77 times the hits-per-rush as Ware

3. Mike Jenkins: 89.8 (A-)

Allowed just 49.1 percent completion rate and led all cornerbacks in yards-per-attempt, deflections, and interceptions

4. Terence Newman: 88.2 (B+)

Thrown at less than any cornerback in 2009 (9.49 percent of all snaps) and a supremely underrated tackler (65 tackles, 8.5 percent missed tackle rate)

5.  Keith Brooking:  87.6 (B+)

Solid numbers against both the run and pass (led all inside linebackers in tackles, tackle rate, and yards-per-attempt against), but most important grade was ‘A’ in leadership

6.  Jay Ratliff  87.0 (B+)

Led all linemen with a .82 percent sack rate from the nose tackle position

7.  Igor Olshansky 85.0 (B)

Probably higher on this list than others would like, but acquired a solid 33 tackles last season–11 more than Spears

8.  Bradie James:  84.1 (B)

Missed only three tackles (3.4 percent) all season

9. Ken Hamlin: 82.3 (B-)

Missed just four tackles all season to record lowest missed tackle-percentage in secondary

T10.  Jason Hatcher 80.2 (B-)

Could see greatest leap forward in production in 2010 as he garnered 17 quarterback pressures last season despite recording only one sack

T10.  Marcus Spears 80.2 (B-)

Run-stuffer who will likely be out of Dallas in 2011

12.  Stephen Bowen 79.8 (C+)

Led all ends in sack and quarterback hit rate

13. Alan Ball: 78.3 (C+)

Solid against the pass, but missed nearly one-fourth of all tackles attempted

14. Orlando Scandrick: 76.6 (C)

One of the most-targeted cornerbacks in the league (13.91 percent of snaps), will improve vastly in 2010

15.  Victor Butler:  76.0 (C)

Showed flashes but must drastically improve run defense to become a more complete player

16. Gerald Sensabaugh: 75.7 (C)

Missed twice as many tackles as Hamlin and allowed 67.4 percent completion percentage

17.  Junior Siavii 71.0 (C-)

Recorded zero sacks or quarterback hits in limited action

18.  Bobby Carpenter:  69.4 (D+)

Horrible 18.4 missed tackle percentage was 5.4 times that of James


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7 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Times’ Final 2009 Defense Grades, Player Rankings

  1. CBFan says:

    I would have Gerald Sensabaugh in blue for I’m sure some of his missed tackles and completion percentage was a result of playing with one hand.

    We could see Sensabaugh with the biggest overall improvement of anyone in our secondary provided he is and stays healthy..

  2. It was a close call for us. He could definitely be a candidate for improvement, and your point about his injury is a good one, but I’m not convinced he is as likely to bounce back as the other players in blue (Scandrick and Hatcher in particular).

  3. Jared says:

    One play that incapsulates Bobby Carpenter’s play on the field is against Atlanta last year. I think you can go on nfl.com and watch it on the highlights, but it’s on a run play. Jason Snellings spells Turner, takes the handoff to the right side for about 30+yds… just watch Carpenter the whole play. It’s almost like he’s just standing there waiting for someone else to do something. And at the last moment, while Snelling is runnning past him, he makes a half hearted effort to tackle him. It’s such a frustrating play to watch.

  4. Jonathan Bales says:

    I remember the run but not Carpenter’s reaction. I will check it out then.

  5. john coleman says:

    Getting rid of Carpenter is no doubt the right move. According to this, we got rid of the wrong safety.

  6. Let’s see how Sensy performs in 2010. I know he wants a long-term deal, but Dallas will make him play for it this season.

  7. Pingback: Grading the 'Boys, Part X: Tight Ends | Dallas Cowboys Times

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