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The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL bye-week in the same position they’ve finished the past two seasons – with a .500 record.
Unlike the way those other seasons ended, the Dallas Cowboys currently find themselves atop the NFC East standings. Translation: If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Dallas Cowboys would be hosting the Carolina Panthers in a Wild Card game.
But since the playoffs don’t begin Sunday and the Cowboys don’t have a game this weekend, it’s a good time to see how they stack up against the other 31 teams in several categories.
According to Pro Football Focus, here are how some of your favorite Dallas Cowboys compare to other players around the NFL:
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS OFFENSE
- Tony Romo is ranked No. 12 among quarterbacks. A few of the most interesting names ahead of him: Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.
- Just grading Romo as a passer, he ranks seventh.
- Romo trails Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton in number of drop backs. Dalton 496, Romo 399, New Orleans’ Drew Brees 391, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford 389, Matt Ryan 389.
- Romo received the offense’s lowest grade for the 49-17 loss in New Orleans.
- Over the last five weeks, Romo has posted his four lowest grades of the year.
- Dez Bryant ranks 13th among the league’s wide receivers. Cole Beasley is 36th, Miles Austin is 84th and Terrance Williams is 90th.
- Beasley is No. 1 in the league in percentage caught, hauling in 76.5 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Williams led this category earlier in the year but has since fallen to 66th, catching 58 percent of the passes thrown to him. Williams, however, does lead the team in yards per reception at 17.2, 12th best in the NFL.
- Doug Free is No. 13 among offensive tackles. Tyron Smith is No. 15.
- Although he hasn’t played in the last two games, Brian Waters is still the team’s highest-graded guard, ranking 24th. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who had the offense’s best grade against New Orleans, is 31st and Ron Leary is 49th.
- Rookie Travis Frederick is eighth among centers.
- Surprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys, who are 26th in the NFL in rushing, are graded as the eighth-best run blocking team.
- Among tight ends, Jason Witten is No. 17. The biggest knock on the eight-time Pro Bowler is his run blocking. He ranks 29th in that category.
- DeMarco Murray has missed two games but he still ranks 12th among running backs. Murray is No. 5 in blocking among backs.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS DEFENSE
- George Selvie had been one of the top 10 defensive ends in a 4-3 scheme earlier in the year but three negative grades over the last five weeks have dropped him to 27th. DeMarcus Ware is No. 9.
- Of the 80 outside linebackers graded, Ernie Sims is 78 and Bruce Carter is 77.
- Jason Hatcher is third among defensive tackles. Nick Hayden is the lowest-graded defensive tackle in the league.
- Sean Lee is sixth among inside linebackers.
- Cornerback grades: Orlando Scandrick 31, Brandon Carr 46, Morris Claiborne 86.
- Barry Church is the Cowboys’ top-rated safety, tied for 25th in the league.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS SPECIAL TEAMS
- Dan Bailey is third among kickers, trailing only Denver’s Matt Prater and Carolina’s Graham Gano.
- Dwayne Harris is No. 3 among returners. He’s 18th on punt returns and second on kick returns, trailing only Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson.
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Jason Hatcher
When Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli were brought on board after the conclusion of the 2012 season, their vision of what this defensive line was going to consist of was a four man line of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, and Jason Hatcher. As they sit today, only Ware and Hatcher are currently in the mix. The offseason ranking of these four players were: Ware, Spencer, Ratliff, and Hatcher.
To his credit, Hatcher has gone far and above what most believed that he could have done. We really wasn’t sure where he was going to play in this scheme, whether that was the one or three technique. Likely, the front office and coaches were having the same thoughts. Few believed he was going to be able to play with enough power at the one. To his credit, he has proven people wrong. That’s not to say that’s his best spot, because at the three he has also done things thought that he couldn’t have done. It was very evident without him in the lineup against the Saints. His ability to help in the run but maybe more importantly, was how well he rushes the passer inside was missing.
What Jason Hatcher has done through his play is make this front office sit up and take notice when it comes to making a decision on his future with this team.
Need More From: DeMarcus Ware
Right or wrong, on the radio show “Talkin’ Cowboys”, DeMarcus Ware was challenged to once again rise up and be the player that we all have seen in seasons gone by. This young defense needs that kind of player.
When Ware was lining up in those practices in Oxnard, it appeared that Ware had turned the clock back five years and this season could turn out to be one of his best ever. Injury has once again robbed him of that opportunity. Ware showed a great deal of guts playing last season at half the player he is capable of being and this year, could very well be the same. As hard as this to say for a player that has given his team so much, he is going to have to dig deeper and find ways to not only be a factor in the running game but be that dominate player against the pass.
This scheme requires pressure from its front four and without that pressure, it is difficult to have success in it. If this team in fact are going to make a run in these last six games and win this division, it is going to be on the shoulders of Sean Lee and DeMarcus Ware. For six games, this defense needs DeMarcus Ware’s very best otherwise we will all be talking about what could have been.
Six-Game Forecast: Defensive linemen cant rely on safety net to stop the run
There have been some difficult games for this defensive line this season. There have also been some times where they have played well and helped this team to a victory. The road doesn’t get much easier with three division games and the matchup with the Bears and Packers remaining.
What worries the most about this group is the ability to get off blocks in the running game especially the last three weeks against the Lions, Vikings and Saints. There have been too many games this season where this defense has allowed offenses to be in manageable down and distance situations because of their inability to hold up against the run. For the next six week, this defensive line is going to be tested each and every snap to have to be physical in playing in the running game and with Sean Lee out at least the next two games, there is not that safety net of him being there to make plays.
This line needs to do a much better job of playing on the other side of the ball like they did against the Redskins and Eagles, which then will help them with their pressure in the passing game.
BOYS BYE-WEEK BREAKDOWN: Sean Lee-less linebackers are an issue that the Texas-2 Defense must overcome
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Sean Lee
When you have a defense that has struggled like this Cowboys one has for games, it is hard to really find some bright spots in their play. You can say that Orlando Scandrick and Jason Hatcher are two players that come to mind but Sean Lee would be right there with them. Lee’s season didn’t start off as well as it needed to but after the Kansas City game, he has been consistent in the way he has played, even though there have been others around him that have not done the same. Lee leads the club in tackles, tackles for loss and interceptions which is no surprise.
What makes Lee so special, is his nose for the ball. There are very few players in this league that play with the smarts and the defensive awareness that he is able to show down after down. There were times when Sean Lee was the best defensive player on this team and that’s saying something when you also have DeMarcus Ware.
Need More From: Bruce Carter
When Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett made the decision to switch from the 3-4 scheme to 4-3, and knowing Bruce Carter’s game from his days at North Carolina and observations with the Dallas Cowboys, this switch should have been a perfect fit for him.
Carter hasn’t been as good as Lee in the way he has played, there is something just not right with what we have seen from him. Despite being 3rd on the squad in tackles, he hasn’t had those dominate performances running to the ball playing on the weak side in this defense. Now with Sean Lee out for at least two games, there will be pressure on Carter to make more plays, which he was able to do last season once Lee went down in the Carolina game. Remember what Sean Lee said about Bruce Carter when he said “There are things that Bruce can do athletically, that I only dream about.” Now is the time for Bruce Carter to step up and do those things that Sean Lee believes he can do.
Six-Game Forecast: Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Ebeflus needs to buy time
If this group is lucky, Sean Lee will only miss the Giants and Raiders contest before returning against the Bears. It appears that DeVonte Holloman is back in the mix and will work to get ready to face the Giants most likely on that strong side in place of Justin Durant, who also injured his hamstring against the Saints. Kyle Wilber who has played linebacker and defensive end during his career with the Cowboys. He will now go back to linebacker to add depth to the position along with Kyle Bosworth and Cameron Lawrence.
Without Lee in the lineup, it appears that Holloman, Sims and Carter would be the starters, unless something changes with the health of Holloman, then more adjustments would have to be made. What this group has to do, is do a better job of getting off blocks in the running game which was a huge issue against the Saints last Sunday. Since the Eagles game, these players have not been at their best when it has come to stopping the run and that has to change quickly despite their best player on the sideline for the next two weeks.
One of four NFL teams without a Super Bowl appearance, the Cleveland Browns finally have a tangible sign of their eight championships prior to the modern era.
Digging through a box in his North Carolina garage as part of the reality show “Garage Gold” on the DIY Network, the grandson of a former team minority owner found a trophy commemorating the 1946 All-America Football Conference championship.
The AAFC did not present teams with trophies, so the 38 players commissioned a pair for owner Arthur B. McBride and minority owner Daniel Sherby.
The 1946 season not only jumpstarted the Browns franchise, but was also the first of 10 consecutive seasons in the title game under Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown.
The Browns won AAFC titles in 1946, ’47, ’48 and ’49, and then won the NFL title in their first year in the league in 1950. The NFL did not hand out permanent championship trophies until 1966.
“We did not know that this one existed at all,” Browns alumni relations manager Tony Dick said after returning from North Carolina this week, via the Chronicle-Telegram. “It’s pretty special that we actually have something that’s physical and you can look and it says that we’ve won a championship.”
The Browns will work with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to decide where the trophy is displayed. If it ends up at the refurbished team headquarters in Berea, the Browns will have a surrogate connection to their halcyon days to overshadow the manufactured motivation that stands as a daily reminder of the “Factory of Sadness” era.
Courtesy: Chris Wesseling | The official NFL website writer