“Grading the’Boys,” Week 1: Cowboys at Redskins
The Cowboys’ offense obviously didn’t execute well in Washington, while the defense was just the opposite. Below are my individual player grades for the game, post-film review.
- Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips: C+
He gets an A- as a defensive coordinator, and a D as a head coach. The Cowboys may have been prepared to play from an ‘Xs and Os’ standpoint, but not from an emotional one.
- Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett: C-
I actually liked the design of most of Garrett’s plays. The Cowboys lined up in 25 different formations and, for the most part, ran unique, innovative plays out of them. The reason this grade is low is because 1) the offense put up just seven points and 2) the decision to not take a knee before halftime was horrendous.
- QB Tony Romo: B
Romo was good, but not spectacular. He was off-target on eight passes, which is just about equal with his per-game average from 2009. The decision to flip the ball out to Tashard Choice just before halftime may have been a poor one, but he also led a game-winning drive that turned out to be not-so-game-winning.
- RB Marion Barber: B
Barber showed more explosion than he did in the preseason and his blitz pickup was solid, as usual. Most importantly, he seems like he’s regained the fire which characterized his play from a few years ago.
- RB Felix Jones: B-
I thought Jones would get used more than he did. He received just 10 touches, and there’s really not much to report.
- RB Tashard Choice: C-
Normally I don’t put too much weight on any single play, but Choice’s fumble before halftime was a killer. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett should have called a quarterback kneel, but Choice has to play smarter as well.
- WR Miles Austin: A
For anyone who was concerned about Austin’s play after receiving a big contract extension, Sunday night’s game is proof that Austin is the real deal and here to stay. His blocking was good, too.
- WR Roy Williams: C
I’m convinced Williams is a receiver who can be good, but not in the Cowboys’ system. He never gets particularly wide open, so he needs a quarterback who can put the ball on him and allow him to adjust. Romo isn’t that–he scrambles and buys time to allow receivers to work their way open.
- WR Dez Bryant: B+
I thought Bryant had a really good debut. I was shocked by how often Romo targeted him, but he displayed his patented hands and excellent body control. His catches to start the final drive were clutch.
- TE Jason Witten: C+
Witten did well in the run game (and in pass protection), but it almost seemed as if he wasn’t a part of the game plan on offense. For whatever reason, he just wasn’t getting as open as usual.
- TE Martellus Bennett: B
Bennett was really solid in the run game, which is primarily where the Cowboys employed him.
- LT Doug Free: C+
You didn’t hear Free’s name called too much against the Redskins, which is a good thing. He got overpowered at times by Brian Orakpo, but he responded by doing what he does best: using his speed and athleticism to lead the way on counters, screens, and so on.
- LG Montrae Holland: B
Not a bad night for the backup. He missed a stunt on one occasion, but I thought he blocked pretty well in the run game. The running backs ran behind him quite often, too. He’s really not much of a downgrade from Kyle Kosier as a run blocker.
- C Andre Gurode: B+
I know Gurode gave up a sack, but that stemmed from confusion on his assignment (as opposed to getting beat physically). Neither is better than the other, but Gurode thoroughly manhandled Albert Haynesworth most of the night. Let’s hope he can keep that up against players who are trying.
- RG Leonard Davis: B+
I’ve heard that Davis is old and overrated, but he seems to be the Cowboys’ most consistent lineman to me.
- RT Alex Barron: H
For holding. In all seriousness, Barron performed better than an ‘H’ grade. He’s all the way up at ‘F.’
- NT Jay Ratliff: B-
Ratliff was good, but he got nailed for two costly penalties that really hurt Dallas. You still want to see him keep his aggression up, though.
- NT Josh Brent: C-
Brent actually got a lot of snaps, but he didn’t make too much of an impact.
- DE Marcus Spears: B+
There’s a reason Spears is still starting. He’s crucial to Dallas’ run defense.
- OLB DeMarcus Ware: A
Ware was all over the place before going down with a neck strain. Thankfully he’s okay.
- OLB Anthony Spencer: C
The Redskins really didn’t double-team either outside linebacker that often, meaning Spencer had a rare off-night.
- OLB Victor Butler: C-
In his limited snaps, Butler was overpowered in the run game.
- LB Keith Brooking: B+
A high grade just for this.
- LB Bradie James: B
I’m not really sure why Coach Phillips blitzed the inside backers so often, but it didn’t seem to work.
- CB Terence Newman: B
Newman gave up a few completions to Santana Moss, but overall he played pretty well considering how much the ‘Boys blitzed.
- CB Mike Jenkins: B-
An ‘A’ in coverage and a ‘D’ against the run. He’s quickly becoming Deion Sanders (kind of).
- CB Orlando Scandrick: B-
The entire secondary looked pretty good. Scandrick still seems to be just a half step out of position, though. He’s on the brink of a big-time game.
- S Gerald Sensabaugh: C
Sensy struggled some against Chris Cooley and wasn’t particularly devastating in run support.
- S Alan Ball: B
As was the case with former Cowboy Ken Hamlin, there really isn’t much to report on Ball. He didn’t let anyone get deep, which is his primary objective, but he didn’t make any big plays either.
- K David Buehler: D
No touchbacks and 0-1 on field goals.