The DC Times

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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Times’ Final 2009 Offense Grades, Player Rankings

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About a week ago, we published our final Cowboys defensive player rankings for the 2009 season.  A few surprises were included, such as Keith Brooking being rated higher than Jay Ratliff, and Victor Butler ahead of Gerald Sensabaugh (don’t forget our ratings are not for overall production, but rather efficiency).

Now, we have concluded our “Grading the ‘Boys” Series, with the final offensive player rankings below.  You can find each individual offensive position study here: quarterback, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, offensive line (run blocking), offensive line (pass protection). We will post overall player rankings (both offense and defense) in the near future.

A few notes before reading:

  • This is not a comprehensive list of everyone who played offense 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 offensive players, but rather a list of the most important players to the team (as we see it) 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.  QB Tony Romo:  94.0 (A)

Threw only six interceptions over final 14 regular season games

T2.  TE Jason Witten:  93.0 (A-)

Team averaged nearly two full yards-per-attempt better when he was in route (9.3 yards) versus blocking (7.4)

T2.  WR Miles Austin:  93.0 (A-)

Dropped only 2.2% of balls and tallied an incredible 10.4 yards-per-attempt

T2. RG Leonard Davis:  93.0 (A-)

Average of 4.57 yards-per-carry when at point-of-attack is outstanding for guard; also gave up lowest negative run percentage

5.  C Andre Gurode:  91.0 (A-)

Solid in the run game and yielded least pressures and hits of any lineman–could be most crucial component of line in 2010

6. RB Felix Jones:  89.8 (A-)

Surprisingly the team’s top runner after contact (3.3 yards-after contact per run); averaged an incredible 10.0 yards-per-carry on 22 counter runs

7. RB Tashard Choice:  87.3 (B+)

Team-high 31.8% of runs up the middle and 5.8 yards-per-carry in that area could make him the 2010 short-yardage RB

8.  LG Kyle Kosier:  85.4 (B)

Perhaps offense’s most underrated player–led offensive line with just one sack yielded in 2009

9.  RT Doug Free:  80.6 (B-)

Will utilize athleticism at left tackle, but 4.54 yards-per-rush behind him last season much too low for right tackle

10.  TE Martellus Bennett:  80.0 (B-)

Quietly one of the team’s better blockers, but needs to increase his 51.7% completion percentage on balls thrown his way

11.  RT Marc Colombo:  79.4 (B-)

Gave up highest percentage of quarterback hits (by far) and largest percentage of negative runs (by far)

12.  TE John Phillips:  78.0 (C+)

Nice rookie season, but must improve as a blocker, particularly out of fullback position (only 3.7 yards-per-rush when in game)

13. RB Marion Barber:  77.2 (C+)

Name in red due to projected lack of production, not efficiency in 2010–should improve with less touches

14.  WR Patrick Crayton:  77.0 (C+)

Reliable player who lacks explosiveness–could be on another team in 2010

15.  LT Flozell Adams:  73.4 (C-)

Still a good run blocker, but led team in sacks, pressures, and penalties

16.  WR Roy Williams:  67.4 (D+)

Only 46.2% of targets ended in completion, but he will improve in 2010

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9 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Times’ Final 2009 Offense Grades, Player Rankings

  1. Frank says:

    Great work as always. The only thing that I thought was a stretch was using Choice’s percent of middle runs and the YPC for those runs to conclude that he may be the short yardage back. First, I believe he SHOULD be the short yardage back, and I thought that from watching the games rather than any statistics. He hits the hole quicker than Barber or Jones. But I think his middle carry percentage is higher because as a 3rd down back he faced more nickel defenses that were playing to stop the pass and the team used middle draws at times to catch defenses off guard. This also lead to a higher YPC than that type of run against a standard defense. I’ve never been an advocate of giving big contracts to veteran running backs, and Barber’s contract is hurting. He’s now the 3rd best back on the team.

  2. Thanks Frank. I think you have a point that the sample size of middle runs for Choice may not be a particularly convincing reason to label him the short-yardage back (although I also agree with you that he SHOULD be that guy).

    However, his YPC was not inflated by draws. Choice ran 22 draws on the season for just 3.6 YPC–well below his season avg. Thus, the majority of his success up the middle came from straight hand-offs or through Wildcat.

  3. Vince Grey says:

    I’m a tad confused. (Sadly, not an uncommon occurrence, but what can you do?) Why, exactly, are Columbo, Kosier, and Davis, all OL, listed as likely to decline? Is it basically an age thing? Because, if that’s so, I have to disagree. With decent health, OL can play extremely well into their mid-to-late30′s and all of these guys are in their early 30′s at worst.

    MBIII, I understand, because, IMO, he’s been in decline for the past two seasons. He seems to have lost half a step that he really couldn’t afford to lose, and just doesn’t run with the abandonment and fierceness he did early in his career.

  4. Hey Vince,

    No, age isn’t a huge factor in that. Generally, I look at different stats than most when determining how successful a player was in a particular season. For example, Jason Hatcher had 17 QB pressures but just one sack last season. If he records that many pressures again, he will almost assuredly attain more than one sack, which is why I have him as a candidate to improve.

    It is simply “regression to the mean,” and, unfortunately, I think it will victimize Davis and Kosier (for sure), and perhaps Colombo as well.

  5. john coleman says:

    The FB is non existent on the list. See, I told ya, we don’t need one. Just carry Sicko as a H back. I’m putting on my armor.

  6. Haha…well we agree on a lot, but not the FB. Yes, it is a dying position, but I still think Deon Anderson has value to the team.

    In any event, he isn’t on this list because we didn’t assign the FB position a grade, but I will be posting a comprehensive offense/defense rankings list that will include all players (including rookies) in the near future.

    Hmmmm…where to put Dez Bryant??

  7. john coleman says:

    At least #3 in regards to WRs. He and Otree are close at this point because of Otree’s experience. I’m not saying the talent is equal, although, I think Otree will be a career surprise. I saw an OTA clip of O and he easily got good seperation. It was just a single play, but I’m hopeful.

  8. Well, Bryant will probably be #2 on my list, although I haven’t decided for sure just yet. If I use the final 2009 grades, Roy Williams will obviously be last.

  9. Pingback: How Important is Doug Free to the Cowboys’ Offensive Line? - NFL Super Bowl Live Online

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