2009 Season

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Relative Value Rankings After Week 11

Dallas has had two consecutive poor performances on offense, so the rankings
of the offensive players had to take a hit. One player taking a dive this week:
WR Roy Williams. Two others were running backs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.
On the other hand, Martellus Bennett jumped up a few spots.

On defense, the team has shown improvement in nearly every area. Anthony
Spencer had another very solid game and rose in the rankings as a result. The
top player for the week is perhaps a bit of a surprise.

The Cowboys released kick returner Allen Rossum this week and replaced him
with cornerback Cletis Gordon. Thus, Rossum falls off the relative value ranking
list.

53. Cletis Gordon, CB

Last week: n/a

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Washington: This is Gordon’s second appearance on the Cowboys’ roster,
with him appearing in the week 5 win over Kansas City.

52. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 52

Poll rating: 1.40

vs. Washington: Inactive.

51. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 50

Poll rating: 1.40

vs. Washington: Inactive.

50. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 49

Poll rating: 1.50

vs. Washington: Third quarterback.

49. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 48

Poll rating: 1.70

vs. Washington: Inactive. He still has not played since week 5.

48. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 45

Poll rating: 1.50

vs. Washington: After being active for two weeks, Johnson was inactive
against the Redskins.

47. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 46

Poll rating: 1.70

vs. Washington: Hamlin was active for the first time of his career against
the Redskins. He did not record a tackle.

46. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 51

Poll rating: 1.40

vs. Washington: McQuistan finally made the active roster. He filled in for
Doug Free on special teams.

45. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 47

Poll rating: 1.60

vs. Washington: Octavien picked up a special teams tackle against the
Redskins.

44. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 44

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: Backup quarterback. Even with Romo being banged up, Kitna
still has not stepped on the field.

43. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 43

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: Backup lineman who plays on special teams.

42. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 41

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Washington: Hatcher did not record a tackle against the Redskins.

41. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 40

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Washington: Third tight end. He did not have a reception but was targeted
on one play early in the fourth quarter.

40. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 39

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Washington: Butler recorded a tackle and an assist against the Redskins.

39. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 38

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Washington: The snap on Nick Folk’s missed field goal appeared to be
fine. Ladouceur just keeps doing his job.

38. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 42

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: Siavii had two tackles and an assist in his most active game
on paper.

37. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 36

Poll rating: 2.50

vs. Washington: Ogletree has been good for a few WR screen passes, but he has
not proven that he can catch the ball downfield. Moreover, he does very little
on special teams, especially compared with Sam Hurd and Pat Watkins.

36. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 35

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Washington: Hurd recorded one special teams tackle against the Redskins.
He was not targeted on a single pass.

35. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 34

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Washington: Not to be so harsh about Anderson, but he really isn’t much
more valuable than John Phillips. Anderson has shown the ability to catch the
ball in the past, but he is never used in the passing game.

34. David Buehler, K

Last week: 31

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Washington: Buehler’s job is to kick the ball into the end zone. He did
so on one opportunity, but his kick to open the game was a line drive that Devin
Thomas returned 38 yards.

33. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 37

Poll rating: 2.10

vs. Washington: Watkins recorded a tackle on defense and another tackle on
special teams. He earned a game ball at

Blogging the Boys
.

32. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 32

Poll rating: 3.10

vs. Washington: The unsung hero against the Redskins? That would be Stephen
Bowen, who tipped Jason Campbell’s pass that Anthony Spencer picked off to seal
the win.

31. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 27

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Washington: A special teams player is certainly a thankless job. But when
your field goal kicker’s misses hurt the team’s momentum in two consecutive
games, the kicker’s relative value has to suffer.

30. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 24

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Washington: Granted, the passes to Williams haven’t been great, but the
guy just isn’t impressing anyone. Against the Redskins: 0 Rec., 0 Yds., 0.0
Ave., 0 TD.

29. Marc Colombo, T

Last week: 23

Poll rating: 3.42

vs. Washington: Colombo is going to have to fall a bit as long as he is
injured. There was not a huge dropoff between Colombo and Doug Free.

28. Alan Ball, S

Last week: 29

Poll rating: 2.30

vs. Washington: Ball filled in for Ken Hamlin at free safety. Ball did not
make any major mistakes, though he missed a couple of tackles, including a big
miss on Rock Cartwright on a big run in the second quarter. Ball finished the
game with two solos and an assist.

27. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 25

Poll rating: 2.30

vs. Washington: Hamlin missed the game with an ankle injury. His absence was
noticable.

26. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 28

Poll rating: 2.80

vs. Washington: Carpenter continues to make plays as a nickel linebacker. He
had three total tackles against the Redskins.

25. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 26

Poll rating: 2.10

vs. Washington: Scandrick had five tackles and an assist. He made a great
play in the second quarter to break up a pass to Malcolm Kelly on a play that
would have given Washington the ball in field goal range. On the other hand,
teams appear to pick on Scandrick on third-down plays a little bit too often. On
the same drive, Scandrick had trouble covering Santana Moss on a third down
play, and the pass to Moss set up the Redskins’ first field goal.

24. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 30

Poll rating: 2.00

vs. Washington: For much of the game, Bennett appeared to be the Cowboys’
best weapon. He caught three passes for 43 yards.

23. Doug Free, T

Last week: 33

Poll rating: 2.82

vs. Washington: Free had a solid game against Washington. He missed a block
on Andre Carter late in the game, but otherwise, he appeared to do a good job.

22. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 18

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Washington: Choice deserves more carries than Jones, but Choice isn’t
being used. He had one carry for one yard against the Redskins.

21. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 22

Poll rating: 2.67

vs. Washington: Spears had two assists against the Redskins.

20. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 19

Poll rating: 2.58

vs. Washington: He had a pretty good opening kickoff return. After that…?

19. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 21

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: Olshansky had two solos and an assist against the Redskins.
One of his tackles in the third quarter resulted in a two-yard loss.

18. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 17

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: Adams had a pretty quiet game against the Redskins, though he
was called for holding in the second quarter.

17. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 15

Poll rating: 3.58

vs. Washington: McBriar only averaged 37.0 yards on six punts, but three of
those punts were downed inside the 20.

16. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 13

Poll rating: 2.67

vs. Washington: Kosier has not done very much to set himself apart during the
past few weeks. When the team gets a good push, it is more likely to come from
Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis rather than Kosier.

15. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 16

Poll rating: 2.67

vs. Washington: Crayton had only one reception, but it was huge as it won the
game for the Cowboys. Crayton had only one punt return, but he managed to gain
13 yards on it.

14. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 11

Poll rating: 3.58

vs. Washington: James had four tackles and four assists. He has taken a back
seat to Keith Brooking in terms of playmaking, but James has been solid.

13. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 10

Poll rating: 3.58

vs. Washington: Witten had a typical game: 5 rec., 43 yards. This is the
sixth time in 10 games that Witten has had exactly five receptions.

12. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 14

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: The Cowboys managed a few nice runs up the middle, and the
Redskins also weren’t able to get much pressure on Romo from the center or guard
position. However, the Redskins were missing Albert Haynesworth, so that had to
make Gurode’s job a bit easier.

11. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 12

Poll rating: 3.25

vs. Washington: Davis had a false-start penalty. He also gave up a sack early in the fourth quarter when Cornelius Griffin collapsed the pocket by running right through Davis. Davis otherwise had a solid game, as the Cowboys found room to run up the middle.

10. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 20

Poll rating: 3.67

vs. Washington: "Almost Anthony" didn’t have a sack, but he hurried Campbell,
made some key tackles in the run game, and then made the game-clinching
interception in the fourth quarter.

9. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 8

Poll rating: 4.00

vs. Washington: Rather surprisingly, Sensabaugh only had one assist and no
solo tackles.

8. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 9

Poll rating: 3.92

vs. Washington: None of the Redskins’ receivers hurt the Cowboys, and that
was thanks largely to Newman’s play. He only really bad play occurred in the
first quarter, when Devin Thomas got behind Newman after Campbell had escaped a
pass. Newman and secondary coach Dave Campo had a bit of an argument after the
series, and this was probably a result of the third-down play. Newman also
committed a costly penalty in the first quarter when he was called for illegal
contact.

7. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 7

Poll rating: 4.17

vs. Washington: Jenkins was just as effective as Newman in shutting down
Santana Moss et al. That said, Jenkins’ illegal contact penalty in the fourth quarter on a third down play could have been very costly had the Redskins made their field goal attempt.

6. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 4

Poll rating: 3.08

vs. Washington: Austin came up with some big catches late, but he had been
quiet for far too long in two consecutive games.

5. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 5

Poll rating: 3.31

vs. Washington: Barber ran hard, picking up 99 yards on 20 carries. His
fumble in the first quarter was costly, though. He also missed a block on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter, which led to Romo’s interception.

4. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 3

Poll rating: 3.62

vs. Washington: Romo didn’t fold in the fourth quarter, marching team down
for the game-winning score. It might not have come down to that final drive if
Romo were a little more accurate on his throws, which were too frequently off
target.

3. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 2

Poll rating: 4.62

vs. Washington: Ware had a solo tackle and three assists. He was also near
Campbell on several plays and just missed recording a sack.

2. Jay Ratliff, NT
 
Last week: 1

Poll rating: 4.69

vs. Washington: Ratliff had one assist and one quarterback hurry against the
Redskins. It was a rather quiet game for him, though he was also double-teamed
on several plays.

1. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 6

Poll rating: 4.08

vs. Washington: Brooking is playing out of his mind. On the first drive of
the game, he stopped Ladell Betts cold at the line of scrimmage, holding the
Redskins to a three-and-out. He finished the game with four tackles, four
assists, a sack, and three hits on Campbell. He would have had another sack, but
a penalty on Terence Newman negated the play.

Uncommonly Futile Results on Offense

The Dallas Cowboys have played nearly 50 seasons of football. They have
endured an 0-11-1 season, a 3-13 season, and a 1-15 season. During the current
decade, they have had three consecutive 5-11 seasons.

Through all of that futility, the team has scored fewer than ten points in
two consecutive games only three times. That occurred once in 1990 and twice
during the 2002 season.

Instance #1 (1990)

Week 16: Philadelphia 17, Dallas 3

Week 17: Atlanta 26, Dallas 7

 

Note: These two games occurred
during the Babe Laufenberg debacle that cost Dallas a playoff spot.

 

Instance #2 (2002)

Week 9: Detroit 9, Dallas 7

Week 11 (after a bye): Indianapolis
20, Dallas 3

 

Instance #3 (2002)

Week 15: N.Y. Giants 37, Dallas 7

Week 16: Philadelphia 27, Dallas 3

 

There have been a couple of instances
where the Cowboys have scored 14 or fewer combined points in consecutive games
but still managed to win one of those two games. The first occurred in 1985,
when the Cowboys beat the Redskins 13-7 but lost 44-0 to Chicago the following
weekend. The second happened in 2003, when Dallas beat Buffalo 10-6 but then
lost to New England the following week by a score of 12-0. The good news? The
Cowboys made the playoffs in 1985 and 2003. The bad? Both years were
one-and-done playoff years.

 

No team in the history of the Cowboys has failed to score at least 10 points in three consecutive games. I’ll leave this comment alone for now.

Dallas 7, Washington 6: Not a Thing of Beauty

The Cowboys 7-6 win was a bit like a Bob Ross painting: We don't want to see or hear how it was done, but we'll take the final outcome.

The Cowboys' 7-6 win was a bit like a Bob Ross painting: We don't want to see or hear how it was done, but we'll take the final outcome.

If last week’s 17-7 loss to the Packers weren’t frustrating enough, the
Cowboys nearly managed to lose in the same manner to the Redskins. Like last
week, Dallas became frustrated after experiencing a couple of miscues and failed
to score in the first half. Like last week’s loss, Dallas trailed 3-0 at
halftime. And like last week, Dallas failed to score until the very end of the
game.

The difference against the Redskins was that Tony Romo’s 10-yard touchdown
pass to Patrick Crayton wasn’t a score during garbage time like Romo’s TD pass
to Roy Williams last week. The Dallas score gave the team a 7-6 lead, and that
one point proved to be the margin of victory.

Dallas did not abandon the run against Washington, but the running game did
not prove to be the difference in the game. Part of the reason for that was a
Marion Barber fumble midway through the first quarter, ending a Dallas drive
after the team had moved inside the Washington 20. The play proved even more
disastrous when Romo injured his back trying to tackle DeAngelo Hall, who had
recovered Barber’s fumble.

Romo never missed any time, but his throws were off all game. He missed Roy
Williams on several occasions, and given that Williams does not catch balls that
aren’t thrown right at him (or on some cases, he drops those thrown right at
him), it was not a good game for the team’s "#1 receiver."

The Cowboys had a good drive in the final six minutes of the first half, as
the team marched 52 yards to set up a Nick Folk field goal attempt. But for the
second consecutive game, Folk missed the kick and killed any momentum the team
had built. Washington nearly took advantage of the mistake by driving into
Dallas territory, but Shaun Suisham missed from 39 yards out to leave the score
3-0 at the half.

The frustration continued in the third quarter, as Dallas managed just one
first down. The Redskins increased their lead to 6-0 with a Suisham field goal
in the final minute of the third quarter, and it appeared that the six points
may be too much to overcome.

Early in the fourth, Dallas drove to the Washington 38 and faced a 3rd-and-1.
The team tried to run Marion Barber to the right, but Andre Carter darted from
the left end position and ran Barber down, dropping Barber for a one-yard loss.
On fourth down, Romo tried to get a pass to Miles Austin, but Romo overthrew the
ball, and London Fletcher picked it off.

The Redskins had a chance to make it a two-possession game when they drove to
the Dallas 30 midway through the fourth. However, Suisham missed yet another
field goal, giving Dallas another shot. Starting at the Washington 40, Romo hit
on a series of passes to Jason Witten, Felix Jones, and Miles Austin, and Dallas
finally had a first-and-goal play from the Washington 9. A penalty on Witten
backed the team up five yards, but another pass to Austin left the Cowboys with
a second-and-goal from the 10.

On the touchdown pass to Crayton, Romo broke one tackle in the pocket and
then rolled to his left. Crayton found an opening in the zone, instead of
running the ball, Romo zipped the ball to Crayton to give Dallas the lead.

David Buehler nailed the kickoff into the end zone, and Dallas stopped
returner Devin Thomas inside the 20. Moreover, Washington was called for an
illegal wedge, backing the Redskins up to the 8. The Redskins moved the ball to
the 33, but on a first down play just after the two-minute warning, the Cowboys
forced Jason Campbell to roll to his left. Jay Ratliff tipped a pass attempt up
in the air, and linebacker Anthony Spencer came down with it. Dallas was able to
run the clock down to seven seconds before the Redskins got the ball back deep
in their end.

Spencer has missed several opportunities to make big plays this year, but he
has had back-to-back solid games. Against the Redskins, he had three solo
tackles and two assists to go along with his interception.

Romo broke a streak of seven consecutive games with 20 or more receptions, as
he completed only 15 of 27 pass attempts for 158 yards. His 69.7 passer rating
was his lowest since the Cowboys’ 17-10 loss at Denver in October.

The Cowboys now have a 7-3 record and retain a one-game lead in the NFC East.

Here is a video clip of the game:

Cowboys Favored Over Redskins, Though the Spread May Be Tough to Beat

The Cowboys are 11 1/2-point favorites against the 3-6 Redskins. Nearly
everyone believes that the Cowboys will win, but few think that Dallas will
cover this big spread.

According to the simulations, it will be a close call. As noted below, both
AccuScore and WhatIfSports predict an 11-point Dallas win.

AccuScore:
Dallas 28, Washington 17

The Cowboys won 80% of AccuScore’s simulations by an average score of 28.3 to
17.2.

The Cowboys offense took a week off vs. Green Bay but they should be much
better this week. There is a 62 percent chance that Dallas has at least 350
offensive yards and Dallas has an 83 percent chance of winning if the
offense performs as expected. If Washington holds Dallas to under 80 rushing
yards the Redskins are just 42 percent underdogs. If Washington can rush for
80+ yards while holding the Cowboys to under 80 Washington is actually the
65 percent favorite. Both QBs are averaging under 1 INT per simulation and
there are not expected to be many turnovers in the game. If Dallas commits
no more than 1 turnover and Tony Romo has no interceptions the Cowboys are
heavy 89 percent favorites.



WhatIfSports: Dallas 28, Washington 17

The results of the WhatIfSports simulations were nearly identical to
AccuScore’s simulations. On WhatIfSports, the Cowboys won 79.1% of the games by
an average score of 28-17. Tashard Choice had a bigger game in these
simulations, averaging 61 yards on 12 carries compared with Marion Barber’s 50
yards and Felix Jones’ 49 yards. The Dallas passing game was hardly impressive
in the sims, though, with Tony Romo throwing for fewer than 190 yards.


Madden Simulation: Washington 30, Dallas 23

I did a double-take when reading this one, as ESPN’s simulation of the game
using Madden resulted in a Washington win.

Heading into the fourth quarter, Dallas is cruising with a 20-13 lead
against their division rivals from D.C., but that’s when the unthinkable
happens and the Redskins offense explodes for 17 fourth-quarter points to
steal the game, 30-23.

That’s right, we used "Redskins" and "offense explodes" in the same
sentence thanks to the awesome running of Betts (96 yards, one touchdown)
and the game-winning catch by Santana Moss.

The loss is Dallas’ second in a row as they now fall to 6-4 on the season
after watching their defense give up 17 points in a quarter to one of the
lowest scoring teams in the NFL.

My Guess (6-3 this season
based on win-loss).

 

I had two very good weeks with
my predictions, but last week my guess just stunk. My thoughts last Saturday:

As for Sunday’s game, I
think Dallas will do well. The Packers can be a dangerous team, but their
confidence seemed shaken after the loss to the Vikings two weeks ago. They
were hardly impressive in the loss to Tampa Bay last week. Dallas should
bring a balanced attack, taking advantage of Aaron Kampman’s absence from
the game.

Balanced attack? Dallas passed
its way to a bunch of three-and-outs, and mistake after mistake didn’t help
matters. My poor guess dropped my season record to 6-3.

 

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24
(actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)

Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas
14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)

Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21
(actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14
(actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)

Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City
14 (actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)

Week 7: Atlanta 28, Dallas 17
(actual: Dallas 37, Atlanta 21)

Week 8: Dallas 31, Seattle 17
(actual Dallas 38, Seattle 17)

Week 9: Dallas 23, Philadelphia
17 (actual: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16)

Week 10: Dallas 31, Green Bay 20
(actual: Green Bay 17, Dallas 7)

 

As for this week, I think Dallas
will control the clock by using shorter passes and the running game. Romo may
have a couple of big plays to Miles Austin to help set up scores, but the real
story in this game will be the defense’s role in smothering the Redskins and the
offense’s role in grinding out yards and keeping the ball out of Washington’s
hands. Result:

 

 

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Dallas 20, Washington 6

Relative Value Rankings After Week 10: It's a Bear Market

Although the team as a whole looked poor against the Packers, there were a
few performances worth noting. Anthony Spencer had a strong game, but he
continues to miss making a big play by justthismuch. Steven Bowen and Bobby
Carpenter also made some good plays.

Otherwise, few players had performances that would justify moving them up in
the rankings. Injuries to Marc Colombo and Ken Hamlin also affected the
rankings.

Thanks as always to those who participated in

last week’s poll
. Please see the bottom of this post for this week’s poll.

53. Allen Rossum, KR

Last week: 53

Poll rating: 1.43

vs. Green Bay: Did not play due to injury. It would hardly come as a surprise
if Rossum was released.

52. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 52

Poll rating: 1.46

vs. Green Bay: Inactive. Preston has not played all season.

51. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 51

Poll rating: 1.55

vs. Green Bay: Inactive. Unless something changes before Sunday, McQuistan
will become the backup tackle on the active roster.

50. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 50

Poll rating: 1.55

vs. Green Bay: Inactive. There was talk that Holland might get the start at
right guard had Leonard Davis moved to tackle, but that is not going to happen.

49. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 49

Poll rating: 1.75

vs. Green Bay: Third quarterback.

48. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 47

Poll rating: 1.76

vs. Green Bay: Inactive.

47. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 46

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Green Bay: Inactive.

46. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 48

Poll rating: 1.75

vs. Green Bay: With Ken Hamlin missing up to a month due to injury, Michael
Hamlin will make the active roster for the first time all season. Michael Hamlin
will play on special teams for now.

45. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 43

Poll rating: 1.83

vs. Green Bay: Johnson recorded one special teams tackle, and that was merely
a matter of him touching Nick Collins down on an onside kick attempt late in the
game. Johnson was also called for an illegal block on a kickoff return.

44. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 42

Poll rating: 2.10

vs. Green Bay: Second quarterback. He still has not played this season.

43. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 45

Poll rating: 2.20

vs. Green Bay: Procter was another named mentioned as a possible starter due
to the injury, as some suggested that he might play right guard if Davis moved
to right tackle. That isn’t going to happen, and Procter is likely limited to
playing on special teams for now. I bumped him up a few spots because of his
higher poll rating.

42. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 41

Poll rating: 2.39

vs. Green Bay: Siavii did not record a tackle against the Packers.

41. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 40

Poll rating: 2.37

vs. Green Bay: Hatcher recorded one tackle early the game.

40. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 39

Poll rating: 2.32

vs. Green Bay: Phillips was again the third tight end.

39. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 36

Poll rating: 3.32

vs. Green Bay: After making a huge tackle at the end of the Philadelphia
game, Butler did not record anything against the Packers.

38. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 53

Poll rating: 3.17

vs. Green Bay: On Nick Folk’s missed field goal, the snap appeared to be just
a little bit high. That probably was not the reason for the miss, though, as Mat
McBriar took the blame after the game.

37. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 34

Poll rating: 2.70

vs. Green Bay: Watkins has experience as a starting safety, but the Cowboys
are going to start Alan Ball (a converted corner) to replace Ken Hamlin.

36. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 33

Poll rating: 3.52

vs. Green Bay: Dallas tried to go with another wide receiver screen to
Ogletree, who averaged 19 yards on three of these plays in the previous two
weeks. Against the Packers, the screen gained a yard.

35. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 31

Poll rating: 2.38

vs. Green Bay: Hurd disappeared from the stat sheet yet again. Hurd is more
involved on special teams than Ogletree, but Hurd has not done anything on
offense in the past two games.

34. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 32

Poll rating: 2.48

vs. Green Bay: Anderson is generally only asked to block, and he is not on
the field frequently enough to rank him along with all of the starters.

33. Doug Free, T

Last week: 44

Poll rating: 1.83

vs. Green Bay: Free is going to get the start at right tackle now that Marc
Colombo will be out for several weeks, if not the rest of the season.

Blogging the Boys
has a post
about Free’s performance last week. If Free performs well against the Redskins,
his value will jump way up.

32. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 38

Poll rating: 2.77

vs. Green Bay: Bowen had a solid game, recording a tackle, two assists, and a
sack. He even forced a fumble on the sack in the second quarter, but the Packers
recovered.

31. David Buehler, K

Last week: 29

Poll rating: 3.72

vs. Green Bay: Neither of Buehler’s kickoffs made it to the end zone. Buehler
was also injured while covering punts, and he might have to miss the Washington
game.

30. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 28

Poll rating: 2.47

vs. Green Bay: One reception for six yards. He is on pace to gain fewer than
200 receiving yards this year, which hardly qualifies him as a "weapon."

29. Alan Ball, S

Last week:

Poll rating: 2.55

vs. Green Bay: Ball did not record a tackle against the Packers. Ball has
been nothing more than a special teamer and backup corner, but he will start at
free safety for the next few games due to Ken Hamlin’s injury.

28. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 30

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Green Bay: Carpenter recorded two tackles, an assist, and a sack. The
sack came on a third-down play after Green Bay had driven the ball in the third
quarter into Dallas territory.

27. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 26

Poll rating: 3.76

vs. Green Bay: Folk missed his only field goal attempt, and the miss turned
out to be significant. Dallas lost momentum after the miss.

26. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 25

Poll rating: 3.03

vs. Green Bay: Scandrick did not have a strong game. He was called for
defensive holding, illegal use of the hands, and pass interference. Two of those
penalties came on the Packers’ first touchdown drive. To his credit, Scandrick
sacked Rodgers late in the first quarter and caused a fumble. However, Mike
Jenkins was called for a penalty on the play for illegal hands to the face.

25. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 24

Poll rating: 3.15

vs. Green Bay: Hamlin overcame a groin injury and played against the Packers,
but then Hamlin suffered a high ankle sprain. Hamlin managed two tackles and two
assists before being injured.

24. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 23

Poll rating: 3.41

vs. Green Bay: Williams made a good play at the beginning of the game on a
19-yard gain. He also caught a touchdown late in the game. But then there’s the
matter of him fumbling the ball after what would have been a 42-yard gain. And
there’s the matter of a pathetic drop on a play that would have given the ball
to Dallas in Green Bay territory in the third quarter.

23. Marc Colombo, T

Last week: 21

Poll rating: 3.47

vs. Green Bay: Colombo will fall off this list while he recovers from a
broken fibula. The team will either miss him greatly or will find out that Doug
Free is as good as the scouts have advertised him.

22. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 20

Poll rating: 3.57

vs. Green Bay: Unlike Bowen, Spears did not record anything against the
Packers. It does not appear that he is ever double-teamed, but he never gets
much of a push on the pass rush or in run support.

21. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 22

Poll rating: 3.35

vs. Green Bay: Olshansky had a strong game, recording three tackles and two
assists.

20. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 27

Poll rating: 3.03

vs. Green Bay: "Almost Anthony" had a big game against Green Bay that could
have been bigger. He had seven tackles and an assist. Two of his tackles were
for losses. He nearly had a sack or two, and almost recorded an interception.

BTB
has a piece on Spencer as well.

19. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 18

Poll rating: 3.11

vs. Green Bay: I moved Jones below Tashard Choice based largely on the poll
rating from last week. The team is apparently unwilling to risk an injury to
Jones, so Jones gets very few touches. He had three carries for six yards
against the Packers. Jones has become a home-run hitter who has been asked to
bunt.

18. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 19

Poll rating: 3.56

vs. Green Bay: The Cowboys featured Choice in the "Razorback," but since
Dallas abandoned the run so early in the game, Choice only had three touches.

17. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 17

Poll rating: 3.80

vs. Green Bay: On several plays, the Packers brought pressure from Tony
Romo’s left. Adams did not appear to have a bad game, but it certainly was not a
dominant performance.

16. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 16

Poll rating: 3.58

vs. Green Bay: Crayton had four receptions for 52 yards, though most of that
came during garbage time.

15. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 15

Poll rating: 4.14

vs. Green Bay: Two of McBriar’s punts ended up inside the 20, and he had a
long punt of 51 yards.

14. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 13

Poll rating: 3.78

vs. Green Bay: Gurode gave up at least two sacks when Nick Barnett blitzed up
the middle.

13. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 14

Poll rating: 3.63

vs. Green Bay: Hard to tell whether the Cowboys could rush up the middle, but
the Packers were able to get pressure on Tony Romo up the middle. On at least
three plays, Kosier did not block anyone.

12. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 12

Poll rating: 3.84

vs. Green Bay: Similar to Gurode and Kosier, Davis’ value took a bit of a hit
because the team had trouble with pressure coming up the middle.

11. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 8

Poll rating: 3.88

vs. Green Bay: James led the team with 11 combined tackles. He had a lower
poll rating last week, so I dropped him a few spots. He has been solid as far as
making tackles, but he isn’t making any big plays. He has made one tackle for a
loss all season and still only has one sack.

10. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 6

Poll rating: 4.08

vs. Green Bay: Witten had five receptions for 47 yards. Half of the people
who participated in

my poll earlier this week
think that Jason Garrett is not using Witten
properly.

9. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 11

Poll rating: 4.03

vs. Green Bay: Though the Packers have plenty of weapons, none of them really
hurt the Cowboys thanks to the play of Newman and Mike Jenkins. Newman finished
the game with eight tackles.

8. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 9

Poll rating: 4.18

vs. Green Bay: Sensabaugh had two tackles and an assist against the Packers.

7. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 10

Poll rating: 4.41

vs. Green Bay: Jenkins suffered a bruised bicep and missed several plays
against the Packers. When he went out, the Packers picked on Scandrick, who was
called for two penalties. Jenkins looks like a player who will become an elite
corner.

6. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 7

Poll rating: 4.08

vs. Green Bay: Brooking had five tackles and five assists.

5. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 53

Poll rating: 3.93

vs. Green Bay: Barber was active early, but then the game stopped using the
run altogether.

4. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 4

Poll rating: 4.21

vs. Green Bay: Austin was a step in front of Atari Bigby on the Cowboys’
first drive, but Tony Romo’s pass went over Austin’s head. Austin was seldom
targeted after that and did not record his first reception until the fourth
quarter.

3. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 1

Poll rating: 4.34

vs. Green Bay: Romo had trouble getting on track all game. Much of that was
the result of pressure that the Packers put on Romo, but Romo also made some bad
decisions.

2. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 3

Poll rating: 4.32

vs. Green Bay: Ware recorded two sacks, which was expected against the
Packers. Ware now has seven sacks on the season and is on pace to finish with
12.

1. Jay Ratliff, NT
 
Last week: 2

Poll rating: 4.80

vs. Green Bay: Ratliff only had one tackle and one assist, but it was clear
that the Packers had to account for him. Given his poll rating of 4.80 out of 5,
I had to elevate him to #1 this week.

Dallas Defense Quietly Jumps Up in the Rankings

After giving up 877 combined yards in the first two games of the season, the
Cowboys ranked near the bottom of the league in team defense. Since those first
two games, though, the Cowboys have climbed steadily. Prior to the Green Bay
game, Dallas ranked 20th in the league in total defense, allowing 336.5 yards
per game.

After giving up only 283 yards against the Packers, the Cowboys moved up
significantly in the rankings.  Dallas has now given up 330.6 yards per
game, which ranks 16th in the league.

Since week 2, the Cowboys have been pretty steady in terms of yardage
allowed. Here’s a look:

vs. Tampa Bay: 450 total yards
vs. N.Y. Giants: 427 total yards
vs. Carolina: 271 total yards
vs. Denver: 337 total yards
vs. Kansas City: 304 total yards
vs. Atlanta: 298 total yards
vs. Seattle: 308 total yards
vs. Philadelphia: 297 total yards
vs. Green Bay: 283 total yards

Since giving up 337 yards against the Broncos, the Cowboys on average have
allowed only 298 yards per game. Only six teams have allowed fewer yards per
game this season.

The Cowboys have also improved in points allowed per game. Dallas has now
given up 18.8 points per game, which ranks 8th. Since giving up 33 points to the
Giants in week 2, the Cowboys have not given up more than 21 in a game.

On the other side of the ball, Dallas now ranks 4th in total offense,
averaging 390.4 yards per game.

Is Jason Witten Starting to Decline?

In 2007, Jason Witten pulled in 96 receptions for 1,145 yards and 7 TDs. His
average per reception was 11.9. His presence over the middle helped to open
things up for Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton, and few teams could slow him
down. He had six or more receptions in 10 of 16 games and had four games where
he gained more than 100 receiving yards.

Witten’s numbers in 2008 took a hit, but they were still respectable. He
finished with 81 receptions and had at least six receptions in 9 of the 16
games. His average per reception of 11.8 was nearly the same as it was in 2008.

His performance in 2009 has been another matter entirely. During a season
where Witten should have been a central focus of the offense, he has been
limited to 49 receptions for 438 yards, averaging only 8.9 yards per reception.
He has had exactly five receptions in five of the games this season, and he has
had more than five receptions in only two of those games. He has recorded just
one touchdown reception, and that came during the second week of the season.
Against the Packers, Romo tried to force the ball to Witten on a quick out near
the goalline, but Green Bay corner Charles Woodson stepped in front of the pass
and picked it off at the goalline.

To be sure, Witten’s numbers have not quite reverted to pre-2007 numbers. In
2006, for instance, he averaged  only four receptions per game and never
had more than six receptions in a single game. His average in 2006, however, was
11.8 yards per game. In fact, the only season during which Witten has averaged
less than 10 yards per game was 2003 when he averaged 9.9 yards on 35 receptions
as a rookie.

Here’s a look at his performances in 2009:

vs. Tampa Bay: 5 rec., 71 yards
vs. N.Y. Giants: 5 rec., 33 yards, 1 TD
vs. Carolina: 9 rec., 77 yards
vs. Denver: 4 rec., 31 yards
vs. Kansas City: 5 rec., 47 yards
vs. Atlanta: 5 rec., 53 yards
vs. Seattle: 4 rec., 36 yards
vs. Philadelphia: 7 rec., 43 yards
vs. Green Bay: 5 rec., 47 yards

So, these stats raise some questions: are Witten’s skills starting to decline? Is this a symptom of a problem with the Dallas offense?

[polldaddy poll=2264662]

Green Bay 17, Dallas 7: A Whole Bunch of Ugly

Several of the ugly sides of the Dallas Cowboys showed up on Sunday, while
the strengths that have carried the team through the last four wins were
noticeably absent. The result was a 17-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers that
dropped the Cowboys to 6-3.

Not many highlights in the Cowboys' 17-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday

Not many highlights in the Cowboys' 17-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday

Ugliness in bullet-point format

Ugly: After moving the ball 41 yards on the opening drive of the game, Nick
Folk missed a 38-yard field goal. Holder Mat McBriar later

took blame
for the miss.

Ugly: After the first drive, the Cowboys had a terrible time gaining yards.
The team went three-and-out on two consecutive drives in the second quarter.

Ugly: With the score tied at 0-0 in the second quarter, Roy Williams caught a
pass from Tony Romo on deep post pattern. The play would have resulted in at
least a 42-yard gain, but Green Bay defensive back Charles Woodson stripped
Williams, and the Packers recovered at the Green Bay 31.

Ugly: On a second-and-13 play from the Dallas 43 in the third quarter, Romo
found Williams on a pattern down the right sideline. The ball bounced right off
Williams’ hands.

Ugly: On the next play after the Williams’ drop, Romo hit Tashard Choice on
an apparent 22-yard gain to the Green Bay 35. The play was called back due to a
penalty on Jason Witten, though, and the team had to punt.

Ugly: On the Packers’ touchdown drive that gave Green Bay a 10-0 lead, Dallas
allowed the Packers to convert a 3rd-and-11 and and 3rd-and-13. On the same
drive, two penalties by Orlando Scandrick also gave the Packers first downs.

Ugly: After the Green Bay score, Woodson hit Romo from behind and forced Romo
to fumble the ball. Clay Matthews recovered and returned the ball down to the
Dallas 3. The Cowboys were ticked that

Felix Jones apparently recovered the ball
, but that was hardly the real problem.

Ugly: After the Cowboys moved the ball to the Green Bay 1 with about six
minutes remaining, Romo tried to hit Jason Witten on a short out pattern.
Woodson jumped the route and picked the ball off.

Ugly: The Cowboys had 14 rushing attempts for 61 yards. Marion Barber had 26
yards on only five carries.

Ugly: Time of possession for Dallas was 24:02.

Ugly: Miles Austin caught his first pass with less than 10 minutes remaining. 
Austin finished with four receptions for 20 yards.

Ugly: Marc Colombo

broke his left fibula and is likely out for at least the rest of the regular
season
, if not longer.

* * *

The biggest problem with this game is that the list of ugly moments for the
most part summarizes the entire game. Dallas put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, but
the Cowboys could not force a turnover. The game was scoreless for the entire
first half, with the Packers kicking a field goal as time expired at the end of
the first half. And the game was only 3-0 until the Packers’ drive that ended in
a one-yard score by Rodgers.

To its credit, the defense kept the team in the game, though the Cowboys
could not manage a turnover. Dallas suffered two injuries that really hurt. The
first was an injury to cornerback Mike Jenkins. With him out of the game, the
Packers picked on Scandrick, who showed that he is significant step down from
Jenkins. Ken Hamlin suffered the second key injury. With him out, the Packers
completed a pass over the middle to tight end Donald Lee, who caught the ball
right in front of Hamlin’s replacement, Pat Watkins (though, to be sure, Rodgers
made a great pass on the play).

It would be easy to blame Doug Free for the problems the Cowboys had along
the offensive line, but much of the pressure on Romo came up the middle and from
Romo’s left. Dallas did not pick up the blitz well. Credit Dom Capers with being
original with his bltiz packages, but the Cowboys did not help themselves with
mistakes.

With the loss, the Cowboys fall to 6-3. This gives Dallas a one-game lead
over the Giants and Eagles, who are both 5-4. The Eagles and Giants are both 2-1
in the division, while Dallas is 1-1.

Cowboys Are Narrow Favorites at Green Bay

Marber Barber could have a solid day against the Packers

Marber Barber could have a solid day against the Packers

The Cowboys are not overwhelming favorites as they travel to Lambeau Field on
Sunday afternoon. Half of the ESPN
commentators
picked Green Bay to win, while everyone at the Dallas Morning
News other than Rick Gooselin picked Dallas. The simulations have favored the
Cowboys, though the game will be close if these predictions come true.

 

Accuscore:
Dallas 27, Green Bay 25

The Cowboys have won 56% of Accuscore’s simulations by an average score of
27-25. The Dallas pass rush may be the difference in whether the Cowboys can win
their fifth straight.

Aaron Rodgers will need to withstand the Cowboys pass rush for Green Bay
to win. He is getting sacked more than 4 times per simulation and if the
Cowboys sack him 5+ times the Packers only have a 40 percent chance of
winning. If Rodgers is sacked no more than 3 times the Packers are 70
percent favorites. The Packers also need to contain the Cowboys running
game. If Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice average 5+ yards per
carry the Cowboys are 69 percent favorites. The Packers secondary will need
to get Tony Romo to throw at least 1 INT. If Romo does not throw an INT
Dallas is the 62 percent favorite, but if Romo throws 1+ INT the Packers are
the 63 percent favorite.



WhatIfSports
: Dallas 28, Green Bay 22

The Cowboys won a higher percentage of the simulations on WhatIfSports,
taking nearly 70% of the matchups. Tony Romo averaged only 212.9 yards in the
simulations, but the running game was generally strong.


Madden Simulation
: Dallas 26, Green Bay 14

The Cowboys were more dominant in ESPN’s simulation of the game, as Dallas
won 26-14.

Talk about two teams that appear to be headed in completely opposite
directions. And just think, it seemed like only a few weeks ago people were
talking about the demise of Dallas and the playoff prospects of the Packers.
Now the field has flipped and it’s Dallas who looks headed to bigger and
better things this season as they take out Green Bay 26-14.

Tony Romo continues to impress, throwing for 320 yards and three
touchdowns, including another touchdown to his new favorite wide out, Miles
Austin. Jason Witten also came up big for Dallas, catching nine passes for
103 yards and a score.

Things aren’t looking good for Green Bay, as Aaron Rodgers faced
relentless pressure from the Dallas D, throwing an interception and fumbling
twice in the loss.

My Guess (6-2 based on win-loss)

For two straight weeks my guess was pretty close.

Last week
‘s prediction:

I am not drinking the Cowboys kool-aid just yet, but I think the Cowboys
will overcome a shaky first half and storm back in the second half. Dallas
will use all three running backs on offense, and the Dallas defense will
make some adjustments to hold Philadelphia in check. Final score:

* * *

Dallas 23, Philadelphia 17

The first half wasn’t really very shaky, but the first drive of the second
half for the Dallas defense was shaky. In the end, the Cowboys managed a
four-point win, 20-16. My tally this year:

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24
(actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)

Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas
14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)

Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21
(actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14
(actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)

Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City
14 (actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)

Week 7: Atlanta 28, Dallas 17
(actual: Dallas 37, Atlanta 21)

Week 8: Dallas 31, Seattle 17
(actual Dallas 38, Seattle 17)

Week 9: Dallas 23, Philadelphia
17 (actual: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16)

 

As for Sunday’s game, I think
Dallas will do well. The Packers can be a dangerous team, but their confidence
seemed shaken after the loss to the Vikings two weeks ago. They were hardly
impressive in the loss to Tampa Bay last week. Dallas should bring a balanced
attack, taking advantage of
Aaron Kampman’s absence from the game. Final score:

 

personalized greetings

Dallas
31, Green Bay 20

Cowboys' Offensive Line Ranks High According to NFL.com Stats

I am not sure how long it has been on there, but one of the stat features at
NFL.com allows user to sort though

offensive line statistics
. Some of this is interesting, but it is tough to
gauge what the data means. According to the numbers, the Cowboys at least rank
in the top half of most of the categories.

Here’s a did-you-know: the Cowboys have the most experienced line in the NFL.
The five starting linemen have started a total of 545 games, most in the NFL.
The Jets are second with 520 games. The lowest-ranked team is Buffalo, as the
line for the Bills has started a total of just 61 games.

Other numbers for the Cowboys (NFL rank in parentheses):

Total rushing yards: 1,109 (8th)

Attempts: 216 (16th)

Rushing average: 5.1 (2nd)

TDs: 9 (9th)

1st downs:

Left: 26 (1st)

Center: 18 (7th)

Right: 16 (16th)

Negative rushes:

Left: 6 (9th)

Center: 12 (31st)

Right: 3 (1st)

Rushes of 10 or more yards:

Left: 17 (3rd)

Center: 10 (4th)

Right: 11 (14th)

Rushing Power

Note: Defined as "Percentage of rushes on 3rd or 4th down with 2 or fewer
yards to go that achieved a first down or TD. Also includes rushes on
1st-and-goal and 2nd-and-goal from the opponent’s 2-yard line or closer."

Left: 67% (14th)

Center: 56% (22nd)

Right: 100% (1st)

Sacks Allowed: 17 (15th)

QB Hits: 39 (17th)

 

Just a few ideas to throw out regarding these numbers and other observations:

(1) There appears to be a greater risk-reward for the Cowboys in terms of
running up the middle compared with other teams. The Cowboys have lost yardage
up the middle on 12 plays this season, but the team also has 10 runs of greater
than 10 yards up the middle. By comparison, the Colts have no negative rushes up
the middle but also only have five plays of 10+ yards up the gut.

(2) Overall, the Cowboys are more likely to break big plays on the ground
than most NFL teams, and many of these runs are to the left with Leonard Davis
pulling from right guard. Dallas has a total of nine runs of 20 or more yards,
which is the third most in the NFL.

(3) A total of 27.8% of the Cowboys’ runs have been for first downs, which is
second in the league. The Cowboys are more likely to rush for a first down by
going left or right rather than up the middle.

(4) The Cowboys are not likely to lead the league in rushing, given that the
Jets average 177.6 yards per game compared with the Cowboys 138.6. I think the
team can thank the emergence of Miles Austin for this, given that the team’s
passing game has been revived in the past month.