Dallas Cowboys Quarter-Season Grades: Secondary

Jonathan Bales

Parts I and II of my quarter-season grades looked at the offensive line and front seven, respectively.  Today, I’ll examine a secondary whose performance was bound to improve from 2010 due to a more efficient pass rush.

Cornerbacks

  • Mike Jenkins

Quietly, Jenkins is rebounding nicely from his horrendous 2010 season.  He has been targeted 21 times in four games, yielding 10 receptions for 123 yards.  That’s good for 5.86 yards-per-attempt–an exceptional number for a cornerback.  I think Jenkins is benefiting from increased pressure from the front seven, but he’s also playing with a lot more confidence that last season.  Plus, his willingness to hit ball-carriers is evident under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

  • Terence Newman

Newman has played just over 120 snaps, giving up 73 yards on 10 attempts.  It is tough to give him a grade since he’s been in and out of the lineup so much already, but his play in the final 12 games is really important to Dallas.

  • Alan Ball

Ball has been horrendous this season, in my view.  He got picked on badly against the Jets and the Niners, and he’s yielded 176 yards on 15 attempts this season.  Ball is giving up 7.33 yards-per-attempt–the same as Newman–but he’s also been the only defender whose run defense is still obviously poor.

Safeties

  • Gerald Sensabaugh

I like how Sensabaugh has played this season, even though the stats don’t necessarily back me up.  He has given up nine completions on 11 attempts–good for a 81.8% completion rate.  That in itself wouldn’t be that bad if the majority of the throws were short, but they’ve totaled 122 yards.  He has 17 tackles and hasn’t missed a single one, though.

  • Abram Elam

Elam is a player I think is always going to “look” better than he plays.  He moves really well and just looks like a football player.  He always seems to be just a step too late, though, and reminds me much of Ken Hamlin.  He’s yielded 120 yards on 10 attempts–nearly the exact same numbers as Sensy.  The good news is he’s been a hell of a tackler, and that ability to come up and make hits from the safety position is one of the most underrated improvements to this defense.

  • Barry Church

The majority of Church’s playing time came last week after Sensabaugh went down.  He did a fine job, racking up five tackles.  He’s been targeted just three times in 91 snaps.

Grades

A few notes before looking at my grades:

  • The grades are weighted 3:1 in favor of coverage over run defense.
  • As always, some stats are provided by PFF.

Cornerbacks

Mike Jenkins

  • Coverage: B+
  • Run Defense: B

Overall: 88.8 (B+)

Terence Newman

  • Coverage: B-
  • Run Defense: B-

Overall: 80.0 (B-)

Alan Ball

  • Coverage: C-
  • Run Defense: D

Overall: 68.8 (D+)

Safeties

Gerald Sensabaugh

  • Coverage: B-
  • Run Defense: A-

Overall: 82.5 (B)

Abram Elam

  • Coverage: B-
  • Run Defense: A-

Overall: 82.5 (B)

Barry Church

  • Coverage: B
  • Run Defense: B+

Overall: 86.3 (B)

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