The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Links: Marty B, Jason Witten, and Final Grades

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Do the Cowboys miss Marty B?

Prior to the 2012 season, I explained why Bennett’s true value was far greater than what most saw, even writing “With all the gags Bennett played on teammates and media during his time in Dallas, his biggest trick may have been convincing fans he wasn’t an integral component of the team’s success.” The truth is that Bennett was the best blocker in Dallas—even perhaps the premiere blocking tight end in the NFL.

Bennett was far more dominant in the running game and pass protection than just about anyone realized. Over his last three seasons in Dallas, Cowboys running backs averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry when Bennett was at the point-of-attack. Yes, I’m talking about the same team that averaged 3.6 YPC in 2012 and 4.5 YPC in the previous three seasons.

Read the whole post at NBC.

Jason Witten had a career year. Or did he?

Despite the increased targets, Witten’s efficiency wasn’t better than in past seasons. Actually, it was worse. One of the best stats we can use to determine how often a receiver gets open and makes plays is the number of yards they gain per pass route they run. It’s superior to yards-per-catch or even yards-per-target because it punishes receivers for failing to get open. In analyzing Witten’s past yards-per-route, there’s an obvious trend.

Witten’s efficiency has decreased every year since 2008. The fact that Witten saw his worst efficiency in a half-decade in a season in which he caught 110 passes is pretty alarming. There’s almost zero chance that the tight end will catch 110 passes again in 2013, yet it’s probable that the trend we see above, a decline in yards-per-route, is on the way.

Check out the whole article at DallasCowboys.com.

And at Dallas News, I posted the rest of my 2012 player grades.

Up to this point, I’ve provided analysis and grades for the 17 players listed above. That’s only a fraction of the roster, but the truth is that with all of the injuries the Cowboys suffered in 2012, only a handful of players received enough snaps to warrant an in-depth breakdown. The rest of my grades—for the John Phillips, Cole Beasley, and Sean Lissemore-esque players—are listed below. The only players to not receive grades are those who played fewer than 100 snaps.

Offense

  • WR Kevin Ogletree: D+

For someone who has Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten drawing coverage, a 58.2 percent catch rate is really poor.

  • WR Dwayne Harris: B+

Harris outperformed Ogletree in every aspect of wide receiver play and he offers return ability as well. He should enter 2013 as the No. 3 receiver.

  • WR Cole Beasley: C-

It’s really tough to make contributions at any position when you’re only 5’8’’. I was high on Beasley at one point, but he managed only 5.3 yards-per-target as a rookie and didn’t show a consistent ability to separate underneath.

  • RB Felix Jones: D+

Jones’ career YPC since his rookie season: 8.9, 5.9, 4.3, 4.5, and 3.6.

  • TE John Phillips: C-

Phillips lost his job to James Hanna due to poor development as a receiver, but his blocking isn’t nearly as good as most believe.

  • TE James Hanna: C+

Hanna needs to get stronger at the point, but he showed improvement as a pass-catcher as the 2012 season progressed.

  • FB Lawrence Vickers: C-

Backs averaged just over three YPC with Vickers at the point. He did a fine job as Romo’s “personal protector” on third downs.

Check out all of the grades at DMN.

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