The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys 2010 Quarter-Season Player Grades

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Jonathan Bales

In my 2009 “Grading the ‘Boys” segments, I used math and statistics to create as objective of grades as possible for each player.  These grades are a bit different.  Not only have I not had adequate time to collect all useful data on each player, but those numbers would also be quite useless.  Through four games, no player has played enough reps for their statistics to be significant.  Instead, these grades are the culmination of what I have seen on film.

WR Miles Austin:  A

Austin has been the Cowboys’ best player all season, hands down.  No one is even close.  He’s caught the ball, run after the catch, and blocked well.  He’s one of the best in the NFL.

OLB DeMarcus Ware:  A-

He’s a beast.  There’s not really much I can tell you about Ware that you don’t already know.

CB Terence Newman:  A-

A healthy Newman has always been a productive one.  At his best, he’s one of the top cornerbacks in the league.  Mike Jenkins’ tackling makes you appreciate how talented Newman is in that department too.

WR Roy Williams:  B+

Don’t forget that in March I proclaimed my support for Roy Williams, telling you to not give up on the former UT star just yet.  Well, he’s making me look good so far this season.  The ‘Boys are utilizing his strengths by using him on fades and in-breaking routes.  It’s clear he’s regained his confidence, displaying what have always been above-average hands and body control.

WR Dez Bryant:  B+

Bryant’s opportunities have been limited, but he’s made the most of them.  He has yet to drop a pass and he’s looked explosive after the catch.  The Cowboys need to find a way to get the ball to him more often, even if it means stealing passes from another receiver (anyone except Austin).  And let’s not forget his punt return touchdown.

TE Martellus Bennett:  B+

Bennett with a higher grade than Witten?  He’s earned it.  The kid’s blocking has been extraordinary (as it was last year) and he finally seems to be coming along in the passing game.  Don’t forget that if Bennett “gets it,” which appears to be happening, he’s a much, much more athletic version of Witten.

ILB Bradie James:  B+

James has been one of the lone bright spots for Dallas on defense.  He’s been everywhere, and I’m really shocked at how well he’s played when in coverage.  When he was out for a short time against the Titans, you saw how vital he truly is to the Cowboys.  His only weakness has been pass rushing.

LT Doug Free:  B+

Free has been tremendous this season, exceeding my own expectations by leaps and bounds.  I can only imagine how poor this offensive line would be if Flozell Adams was still here.

TE Jason Witten:  B

Outside circumstances have forced Witten to become less involved than usual thus far in 2010.  The Cowboys lost Marc Colombo early, forcing Witten to stay in to block often.  He’s also suffered a concussion and been forced to play fullback in Chris Gronkowski’s absence.  His blocking has been solid, but he has yet to dominate.

OG Montrae Holland:  B

I wasn’t confident in Holland in the beginning of the season, but he’s played well.  He held his own in the opener in Washington and looked really good after replacing Leonard Davis last week (before going down to injury).

NT Jay Ratliff:  B

Ratliff hasn’t played poorly, but he also hasn’t been his dominant self.  I think he’ll have a hell of a second quarter (of the season), as his motor makes it just a matter of time before he breaks out.

DE Marcus Spears:  B

Spears has been really solid against the run.  That’s all that the ‘Boys really ask of him.

QB Tony Romo:  B-

Romo’s play has been quite fluky this season, which is of course never a good thing for a quarterback.  He hasn’t played poorly, but he also hasn’t been the same play-making gunslinger to which we’ve become accustomed in years past.  I have confidence this grade will rise by the end of the year.

S Gerald Sensabaugh:  B-

Sensy has stepped up as more of a vocal leader this year.  He played well against Chicago, but he needs to make more plays.  The Cowboys do view their safeties as somewhat interchangeable, but Sensabaugh is usually put in a position in which he can make more plays than Ball, particularly against the run.

OLB Anthony Spencer:  B-

Spencer has always been great against the run, but this season seems to be a repeat of last: Spencer is getting pressure but unable to get the quarterback to the ground.  Hopefully this season ends as last year’s did as well, with Spencer going off in the second half.

RB Felix Jones:  B-

Jones had a tremendous game last week as the Cowboys finally utilized him in the proper manner: on counters and other misdirection plays.  He did look hesitant in the first three weeks of the season, though.

CB Mike Jenkins:  C+

Jenkins really struggled last week against the pass, which is rare.  Hopefully he doesn’t lose his confidence.  He really, really needs to improve his tackling, and that starts with just becoming more willing to do so.  At this point, it is detrimental to the defense.

LG Kyle Kosier:  C+

Kosier has gotten overpowered at times this year, but he’s been the ‘Boys most consistent lineman behind Free.  That’s sad.  He was the lone lineman to play well last week versus Tennessee.

DE Igor Olshansky:  C

Like Spears, Olshansky is a run-stopper.  He did well in that role last season, but this year he’s gotten blown off the ball at times.  Spears is the superior player at this time.

Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett: C-

Garrett’s play-calling may not look all that different, but trust me when I say it is.  It is far, far less predictable and, despite the outcries of “imbalance,” I actually like the timing of his runs and passes this season.  Note that the offense has not been aided much by the defense.  Still, Garrett’s grade can’t be that high since the Cowboys’ offense struggled mightily in the first two games.

RB Marion Barber:  C-

Barber does the little things like catching the ball out of the backfield and excelling in pass protection, but I just don’t think he’s regained the explosion and power that marked the start of his career.

C Andre Gurode:  C-

Gurode’s been bad.  As usual, he’s struggled with speed rushers inside and seems to get fooled easily by twists.  That’s not good for a player who is supposed to be the “quarterback” of the offensive line.

RG Leonard Davis:  C-

We all know how poorly Davis played last week, and it actually took a lot of guts for the coaches to bench him.  After reviewing the film, it was the right move, but I also think putting him back into the starting lineup is the correct call as well.  He wasn’t horrible in the first three games and hopefully he’ll come back more motivated than ever.

ILB Keith Brooking:  C-

Brooking hasn’t played very well in 2010.  He’s a vocal leader and a personal favorite of mine, but on the field he’s seemed lost.  He’s been just so-so against the run and horrendous in coverage.  He’s also gotten blocked virtually every time he’s blitzed, although I think that has a bit to do with the Cowboys’ predictable blitz packages.

DE Stephen Bowen:  C-

Bowen was incredible in the preseason, but that intensity hasn’t carried over to the regular season.

DE Jason Hatcher:  C-

I thought Hatcher would have a breakout season, but when was the last time you even heard his name called?

K David Buehler: D+

He’s shown the potential the Cowboys love, but the consistency just isn’t there yet.  His kickoffs have suffered as well.

RT Marc Colombo:  D+

Colombo has been awful.  Even before yielding two sacks last week, Colombo struggled against Chicago and Houston.  Even more concerning for Dallas is the fact that he hasn’t looked good in the running game (where he should thrive), to the point that the team has run to the left again and again.

CB Orlando Scandrick:  D+

Scandrick was a candidate to break out this year (for me at least) because he always seemed to be just a half-step behind his man.  Well, he’s still a half-step behind.  Some of that is due to the nature of the nickel cornerback position, but Scandrick has also exhibited poor awareness and ball skills–the two traits he needed to improve most in the offseason.

S Alan Ball:  D+

With the way Coach Phillips’ defense is set up, the free safety will never be the “ball-hawk” fans want.  The responsibility of Ball, and Ken Hamlin last year, is generally to limit the big play.  The Cowboys haven’t done that very well this season, and Ball’s tackling has been poor as well.

Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips: D

I’m one of the few who still supports Phillips, but my patience is wearing thin.  He isn’t properly motivating the players and he’s even struggled some as a defensive coordinator.  He needs to get this thing turned around fast or he’ll be gone by season’s end.

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10 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 2010 Quarter-Season Player Grades

  1. john coleman says:

    I would almost agree across the board. I think Romo has been a victim of circumstances. Things like tipped balls, that get picked. I would only move him to a B, so no real disagreement. Jenkins has been terrible in comparison to last year. Scandrick deserves a similar comparison. Garrett has been better but his refusal to use guys like Ogletree and Choice are a real sore spot for me. Wade really has ne scratching my head. This defense is no where close to where it was last year. I will say we have played good at times on D. At Washington and Houston we were solid. Also the 2nd half against Tennessee we were good. Turnovers and short fields paint a false picture there.

  2. I’m not sure what is going on with Phillips either. I am generally a big proponent of maintaining composure and playing smart football (and I think the offense always needs to do that), but I think it would be smart for the defense to come out with an ultra-aggressive “in-your-face” attitude this week. It might just be me, but it seems as though they are playing robotically. Football is a cerebral game, but the studying and calculated behavior needs to be completed during the week so that football players can go out and just play football. They need to regain that fire and just fly around and have a good time.

  3. john coleman says:

    Can you say Sean Lee? He is a perfect example of thinking and not just playing. In his case injuries play into it a little. Romo is another example. To me he has been tight since the end of the 08 season. He used to be like a sandlot player having fun. Now it is like as you said robotic.

  4. john coleman says:

    BTW, what’s your best guess at the thought process on signing Jermey Parnell?

  5. Oh yea, Lee is a guy who obviously wasn’t reading and reacting as normal in the preseason. As far as Parnell..I’m not sure. 11 OL is a bit excessive. Perhaps they think he has the potential to succeed at guard in the future and want to take the chance to develop him.

  6. john coleman says:

    I think I would leave Parnell at OT and move Brewster to OG where he belongs. I might even consider Young at OG, although he would have to bulk up a bit. Of course that would leave Barron at a backup at best, maybe on the street. After I asked you I discovered on brand x that some think he may be TE insurance, with Marty B ailing.

  7. moses says:

    The D definitely isn’t s dominant as I thought it needed to be. Too many big plays and it seemed like the S were out of position a lot leaving the CBs on an island.

    I don’t think the experiments have worked well.
    Ball at S seems like a miss.
    Lack of replenishing OL talent another miss
    keeping only 3 CBs – jury is out
    1 kicker – a big miss and a big mess
    He missed easy shots against the Redskins and Bears that could have changed the outcome. He’s great on kickoffs, but the way this team is playing there is no margin for error.

  8. Well Brewster got cut as you probably saw, so that’s a moot point. I actually like Young at RT. He looked good there during the preseason and I’m glad Dallas kept him on the roster.

  9. I would rate the above “mistakes” as follows (worst at the top):
    Kicker
    O-Line
    CB
    S

    Also add nickel LB in that mix (quite high).

  10. percyhoward says:

    Jonathan, do you have the numbers on how many times Wade has called a blitz in the first four games, compared to last year through four games?

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