Grading The Cowboys (Pt. 2 of 4)

This is the second instalment of our final grades for the 2010 Dallas Cowboys. This segment will look at the Cowboys offense.

Quarterbacks – Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee – B+

The Cowboys had solid play from their quarterback position this season. Tony Romo’s interceptions were slightly up for a year ago, but that had a lot to do with his receivers bad drops and deflections. Romo was quite effective and was looking good through the early part of the season. Romo finished his injury shortened season with a 94.9 QB rating and 11 touchdowns. A lot of fans wonder what might have happened had Romo not been injured in the week 6 game against the Giants.

The injury to Romo did pave the way for the surprising Jon Kitna. While Kitna struggled early, he was able to lead the Cowboys to a 5-5 record, and went 5-3 when Jason Garrett took over. Kitna kept the Cowboys in games and in some cases lead them to victory. He didn’t make many mistakes, but he wasn’t flashy either. He also showed decent movement out of the backfield. Kitna threw 16 TD’s, and 12 picks down the stretch. But proved he is more than just a “bus driver”, he can win a few on his own.

Stephen McGee rounds out the quarterbacks. While McGee played some minutes this year, including his first start in Philadelphia to close the season, McGee did little to show that he is the star of the future. However, McGee did enough to at least compete for a backup role with the Cowboys or someone else in the future.

Running Backs– Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, Chris Gronkowski – C+

The Cowboys running game struggled for most of the year. The team that finished 2nd in the league in rushing in 2009 finished 16th in 2010 and that was only after Jason Garrett was able to revive the running game upon his takeover. Marion Barber was effective in spurts but often was clogged at the line. Felix Jones lacked his familiar burst most of the season and wasn’t breaking many tackles and Tashard Choice couldn’t get on the field. Gronkowski, whose rookie season will be remembered for missing the block that lead to Romo’s injury, played like a rookie, but he did show glimpses of promise.

When Barber got hurt in week 12 it seemed to spark the running game. Choice came in and played well. Jones seemed to find his stride as well. The end of season revival saved this grade from being a failing one. The Cowboys’ backfield will likely look a lot different next season.

Tight Ends – Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips, Martin Rucker – B+

This position would have gotten a lower grade if it hadn’t been for the stellar performance of Jason Witten. Witten had, yet another, standout season. He went to his seventh straight Pro Bowl and with 9 touchdowns, over 1,000 yards receiving and 94 catches, it is hard to argue there is anyone better. Oh yeah, and he can block as well as anyone in the league. Witten was stellar this season. Look for the Cowboys to name him their 2010 Offensive MVP. Witten will continue to be an offensive leader and a team captain going into the future.

When John Phillips was lost for the season in week 1, many thought it was a great chance for Martellus Bennett to step up and prove he was worth spending a second round pick on. While he wasn’t eye catching Bennett did improve on a poor season a year ago. He was much more consistent in both his receiving and blocking. While he still disappeared every now and then, he was much more in the picture this season. The Cowboys till need him to step up next year and really make himself known.

Phillips and Rucker are hard to grade because they hardly played. The hopes were high for Phillips going into his second season. We will have to see if that will carry over for next year. Rucker will have a hard time finding a spot on the roster next season.
Wide Receivers – Roy Williams, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Sam Hurd, Kevin Ogletree, Manny Johnson, Jesse Holley – B-

Just like the quarterback position, the receivers seemed to really pick it up in the second half of the season. This season they were all marred by big drops, often leading to interceptions. With this group, if they got their hands on the ball, it was next to certain they would catch it. Not this season. The drops and deflections were an epidemic. Austin went to another Pro Bowl filling in for DeSean Jackson, but arguably didn’t deserve it. Roy Williams started well, but then disappeared in the second half of the season. Ogletree was scratched most of the first half of the season and then was lost to injured reserve for the second. Manny Johnson was less than impressive. Jesse Holley was great on special teams, but his receiver play was non-existent.

On the positive side, Sam Hurd stepped in and did a great job when his number was called. Hurd quietly put together a great year. While he only had 14 receptions and no touchdowns. Hurd made a lot of drive continuing grabs, often difficult ones. But, the real star of the Cowboys receiving corp was Dez Bryant. A lot was expected of their first round pick, and he delivered. Bryant had 45 receptions for 561 yards and 6 touchdowns. He brought energy and enthusiasm. But the most important, was he brought a serious threat to take the pressure of Miles Austin. Bryant was dangerous every time he touched the ball and was only getting better as the season went on. Sure teams took him away here and there, but for the most part Bryant was electric until he was lost in week 13 against the Colts. Bryant boosts the grade a little, but more importantly he gives us something to look forward to next season.

Offensive Line – Doug Free, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Phil Costa, Sam Young, Alex Barron, Robert Brewster, Jeremy Parnell, Travis Bright, Montrae Holland – C-

This group had a bad year. The Cowboys finished with a 4.2 yards/carry average but it wasn’t until Jason Garrett took over that this group started to put things together. They were horrible through the first half of the season and should carry a lot of the weight for the offensive struggles. Romo and Kitna ran for their lives during the first 8 weeks, and the backs had no holes to speak of. Leonard Davis had, maybe, his worst year as a pro, even getting benched against the Titans. Colombo struggled coming back from an injury filled 2009. Gurode made the Pro Bowl, but many wondered why. Kosier was solid and may have been the experienced glue to a line that barely held together.

The only real positive out of this group was Doug Free. Free had a tremendous season taking over for Flozell Adams. Free was a rock on the left-side. He held his edge well when called upon and kept the penalties to a minimum.

The real struggle for this group will be depth. We saw that there was no depth behind the starters. Alex Barron is a waste of a roster spot. His penalty cost the Cowboys the win in their first game against Washington. Brewster, who many had high hopes, was dropped to the practice squad and will need an amazing offseason to break back in. The young guys Costa, Bright, Young and Parnell didn’t show a whole lot. Costa played okay in his chance filling in for Kosier and Gurode, but he wasn’t able to hold Holland off from taking over.

If the Cowboys are going to get back on track it will start with improving on this group’s grade.

Next up: Defense.


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One Response to “Grading The Cowboys (Pt. 2 of 4)”

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