2010 Dallas Cowboys Player Grades, Awards Through Week 11
- QB Tony Romo: B-
Romo’s injury has made this a nightmare year for him, but he wasn’t playing terribly while he was healthy. His numbers were about the same as last season, but the big difference, of course, was that the team wasn’t winning games this year.
- QB Jon Kitna: B
I don’t think Kitna is better than Romo or has even played better this year. I am simply grading him as a backup. When taking that into consideration, he’s been really good, especially of late.
- RB Marion Barber: D
I know some of you think Barber still deserves to be the starter, but he’s been really bad this season. He’s shown no explosion and actually goes down easy on contact. He’s the team’s best pass blocker and should only play on third downs, in my opinion.
- RB Felix Jones: C+
I was really expecting more out of Jones this season. He’s become the Cowboys’ clear workhorse running back, but there are major holes in his game. He needs to play more intelligently and really work on his pass protection, but he does seem to have regained his ability to accelerate in the last couple of games.
- RB Tashard Choice: ?
I can’t grade Choice because he’s received just over five snaps per game. My hunch is that he’d grade out as Dallas’ top back if he had more opportunities.
- FB Chris Gronkowski: C-
Gronkowski is obviously more athletic than former Cowboys fullback Deon Anderson, but the ‘Boys don’t really need more playmakers. They simply need a devastating lead blocker, which Gronkowski is not.
- TE Jason Witten: C+
I realize Witten has still racked up the receptions (leading all NFL tight ends), but he hasn’t been his normal self this season. He’s been a step slower out of breaks, accumulates a lot of penalties, and has been quite mediocre as a blocker this season.
- TE Martellus Bennett: B-
Bennett with a higher grade than Witten!? Well, for the opportunities he’s been provided, Bennett has outperformed the Cowboys’ starting tight end. He’s been far superior in both run and pass blocking, especially.
- LT Doug Free: B
A lot has been made of Jerry Jones’ failed gambles this year, but this one has worked. Free has easily been the Cowboys’ best offensive lineman.
- LG Kyle Kosier: C
Kosier has again been injured a lot, and he’s been just okay when he’s been healthy. There wasn’t much of a drop-off when undrafted rookie Phil Costa filled in.
- C Andre Gurode: C-
Gurode has been much better of late, but he started the season horribly. He struggles with stunts and recognizing blitzes, which is a bad sign for a center.
- RG Leonard Davis: C-
Davis’ struggles have been publicized ever since he was benched against the Titans. He has played decently at times, though, particularly since that benching.
- RT Marc Colombo: F
A lot of people think Colombo and Davis have been equally bad this year, but trust me when I say Colombo has been far, far worse. He really hasn’t had a good game all season. He’s incredibly slow-footed, struggling with defensive ends who possess any sort of speed. He’s also been average (at best) in the run game.
- WR Miles Austin: B+
Austin has come back to reality a bit since last season, but a lot of that has to do with factors outside of his control. He’s still the hard-working, incredibly talented player from ’09.
- WR Dez Bryant: A-
This kid has been simply amazing. I’ve never seen a rookie with comparable ball skills, ever. His work as a punt returner has been incredibly valuable as well.
- WR Roy Williams: C
After a hot start, Williams has cooled down lately. A lot of that has to do with Bryant’s emergence, as the rookie has stolen a lot of snaps from Williams in base personnel packages.
- NT Jay Ratliff: B-
Ratliff hasn’t been as dominant as usual, perhaps due to the sub-par play around him. He still has the potential to create havoc, as he did this past week.
- NT Josh Brent: C-
The supplemntary draft pick has actually gotten pretty many snaps, mostly in nickel situations (when the Cowboys go into a 4-3 alignment). His motor is excellent, but he needs to find a way to more adequately shed blocks.
- DE Igor Olshansky: D-
Olshansky needs to go. He’s extremely limited in what he can do (stop the run), and he hasn’t done that well all year.
- DE Marcus Spears: C-
Spears’ injury was more devastating to Dallas than many people realized, as he was one of the only players who was stopping the run. He too, however, is very limited in his skill set.
- DE Stephen Bowen: D+
After an impressive preseason, I haven’t seen much from Bowen at all. He’s gotten blown off the ball in the run game and stoned in the passing game.
- DE Jason Hatcher: C+
Hatcher has been the Cowboys’ best defensive end, which is sad. He played remarkably well last week, but he needs to show more consistency.
- OLB DeMarcus Ware: B+
Despite a little dry spell recently, Ware is still fifth in the NFL in sacks. He’s been caught out of position a handful of times this season, but I think we make a bigger deal of it than normal because it’s DeMarcus Ware.
- OLB Anthony Spencer: C
Spencer was primed for a breakout season and it simply hasn’t come. Perhaps he benefited from Ware’s presence more than we imagined, but he was even sub-par against the run early in the season. He’s picked that part of his game up of late.
- OLB Victor Butler: C+
For the most part, I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of Butler. He’s become a better run defender, although that part of his game still needs work. His natural pass-rushing ability is obvious.
- ILB Bradie James: B-
James is again having a solid season, although his numbers may not be as eye-popping as usual. For his size, he’s been decent in coverage. He blitzed a ton when Wade Phillips was still in town, which doesn’t seem to fit his skill set well. I think Paul Pasqualoni has used him better in the past two games.
- ILB Sean Lee: C
Lee’s sample size of plays isn’t enormous, but there has been improvement. He played well last week, showing good range, leverage, and improved strength inside.
- ILB Keith Brooking: D-
I love Brooking’s attitude, but the end appears near. I think the Cowboys should be starting Lee already, as Brooking has looked lost out there. At worst, he needs to be off of the field in all nickel situations.
- S Gerald Sensabaugh: C-
Sensabaugh is the definition of a role player: doesn’t make a ton of glaring mistakes, but doesn’t make many plays of his own either. He needs to tackle better.
- S Alan Ball: D+
We saw signs of life from Ball two weeks ago, but his season overall has been poor. He doesn’t drive well on the football and takes horrible pursuit angles.
- S Barry Church: B-
No one seems to talk about it, but Church has done well as a nickel linebacker. Let’s not forget he’s an undrafted rookie playing an entirely new position. I think he has potential for Dallas at his normal safety spot.
- CB Terence Newman: B-
Newman started off the year quite well but has regressed in the past few weeks. He’s never had the best ball skills, but recently he’s shown poor technique as well.
- CB Mike Jenkins: C
Jenkins has been a scapegoat for the Dallas defense, but he hasn’t been that bad. His mistakes are magnified because they often deal with effort, which is a big no-no. It appears he’s beginning to regain his confidence.
- CB Orlando Scandrick: C
Scandrick is so difficult to grade because when he’s been good, he’s been really good, but when he’s been bad, it’s been awful. It’s my opinion that he plays much better outside than in the slot.
- CB Bryan McCann: B
This grade is simply because it’s obvious the kid has playmaking ability. He clearly hasn’t received enough snaps for me to grade him as a cornerback, but the future looks bright.
- P Mat McBriar: A-
Another Pro Bowl-caliber year.
- K David Buehler: D-
This is a major problem for Dallas and it needs to be fixed. If the Cowboys win a few more games here to give them any shot at making the playoffs, Buehler’s got to go. His kickoff distance no longer justifies a roster spot.
Offensive MVP: Dez Bryant
Bryant is a classic example of why you draft the best available football player. He’s going to be one of the league’s top players for years and a Hall of Famer. Yeah, I said it.
Defensive MVP: DeMarcus Ware
Despite recent flack, Ware has again been the Cowboys’ rock on defense. He’s on pace for 14 sacks and makes everyone around him better.
Breakout Player: Bryan McCann
Dez Bryant is the obvious choice but we knew he’s be sensational. McCann was stupidly released by Dallas in training camp, and they’re extremely lucky to have him back. He can compete for a spot in nickel packages next year.
Top Disappointment: Mike Jenkins
Felix Jones, Marc Colombo, Anthony Spencer, and Alan Ball are all close runner-ups. Like I said above, Jenkins hasn’t been that bad, but the fastest way to alienate a fan base is to give up. He’s the biggest disappointment to me because of his lack of effort and high preseason expectations (Jones, Colombo, and Ball were never expected to be Pro Bowl players).