Running the Numbers: Top 5 Most Crucial Players on Dallas Cowboys
My latest submission to DallasCowboys.com details the team’s top five most critical players. This was a very difficult piece to write because there are so many “mini keystones” who, if injured, would be sorely missed. To give you an idea of how valuable the top five core players are to the Cowboys, take a look at my top five who didn’t make the cut:
The Best of the Rest
Any of these players could have easily made my list of the Cowboys’ top five most crucial players. For most, the depth at their position, not their own talent, kept them from cracking the top five.
5. Brandon Carr
Before the Cowboys signed Carr, I wrote a piece detailing why he should be their man over fellow free agent cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Carr allowed less than 50 percent of passes his way to be completed in 2011, picking off more passes than touchdowns he allowed. Quarterbacks registered just a 61.7 passer rating when targeting Carr. With outstanding cornerback depth for the first time in a long time, though, Carr’s indispensability isn’t as great as it would have been in past seasons.
4. Dan Bailey
Bailey was outstanding for the ’Boys in 2011, hitting on 32 of 37 field goal attempts, including a bunch of clutch kicks. The efficiency of kickers tends to fluctuate quite dramatically, however, so Bailey will need to prove himself again in 2012.
3. Sean Lee
Based solely on production, Lee should be in the top five. His 105 tackles last season led the defense by a wide margin. Lee might have made it into the top five, too, prior to the Cowboys’ signing of Dan Connor. I love the Connor acquisition and, combined with second-year linebacker Bruce Carter, the Cowboys have some depth inside.
2. Dez Bryant
Perhaps the team’s top breakout candidate, Bryant adds a vertical dimension to the offense. Bryant was superb in the first half in particular last season, racking up 58.7 percent of his receptions, 60.1 percent of his yards, and 77.8 percent of his touchdowns in the game’s first two quarters. With improved conditioning heading into this season, you’ll probably see Bryant rise on this list next year.
Murray is absolutely critical to the team and it was difficult leaving him out of the top five. He certainly added a much-needed spark to the offense last season, but don’t forget that the Cowboys still have a productive-when-healthy running back in Felix Jones.
Head to the team site to check out the top five. Some are obvious, but at least a couple aren’t. Which players do you disagree with, and which deserve consideration?