Cowboys’ final grades: Almost all A’s on one side of a ball

January 17, 2015 - Finding Carter

The Dallas Cowboys non-stop a 2014 deteriorate with even owners Jerry Jones observant they were going to be challenged to win and with their backs opposite a wall given of questions about a roster.

The Cowboys felt good about their offense, nonetheless they truly didn’t know either 34-year-old quarterback Tony Romo and his surgically remade behind would reason adult for an whole season.

They had apparent concerns about a invulnerability that was abandoned of any proven talent in a front seven. Defensive finish DeMarcus Ware, a all-time pouch celebrity in bar history, was released; Pro Bowl tackle Jason Hatcher was authorised to leave in giveaway agency; and core linebacker Sean Lee was mislaid to a season-ending knee damage during minicamp in May.

Romo came by with a career year after being expelled from a weight of carrying a offense with a presentation of DeMarco Murray as a NFL’s heading rusher and a league’s best descent line.

The invulnerability achieved many improved than a talent indicated, permitting a Cowboys to maximize their intensity and transcend expectations like no organisation in new memory.

“We don’t go review teams unequivocally much,” manager Jason Garrett said. “But we consider during opposite times a organisation of guys we had unequivocally maximized their potential, and that’s one of a things we’re many unapproachable of as a coaching staff is to be means to do that. That’s what we essay to do some-more than anything else. we positively consider this organisation maximized itself.

“I went behind and grabbed my records from Apr 21, 2014, during a start of a off-season program. A lot of those records had to do with fight, mental toughness, perplexing to share a story with them, what this organisation is all about, what we’re determined to do. … Did we accomplish a ultimate goal? We did not. we get that. But we achieved all these things we talked about.”

Here’s a unit-by-unit analysis:


A Starter: Tony Romo. Backups: Brandon Weeden, Dustin Vaughan.

When Tony Romo betrothed before a deteriorate that he would be a best chronicle of himself, doubt greeted a attestation of a 34-year-old quarterback entrance off behind surgery. Romo got a final giggle in an image-altering 2014 discuss when he threw 34 touchdown passes with usually 9 interceptions while heading a joining in passer rating, execution commission and yards per attempt. It was a ideal instance of reduction is some-more as Romo took advantage of a team’s change from a pass-happy offense to a run-oriented unit. It put reduction of a weight on him, and he thrived with his best and many fit deteriorate of his career. Weeden struggled in his usually start, a 28-17 detriment to a Arizona Cardinals. Vaughan did not play.

Running backs

A Starters: RB DeMarco Murray, FB Tyler Clutts. Backups: Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar.

DeMarco Murray repelled a Cowboys and a NFL with a career-best deteriorate that saw him take down a integrate of Hall of Famers along a way. His NFL-leading 1,845 yards rushing surfaced Emmitt Smith’s single-season organisation record of 1,773 yards in 1995. He non-stop a deteriorate with 8 uninterrupted 100-yard games, violation Jim Brown’s NFL record. But some-more important, Murray gave a Cowboys their temperament on offense with his physical, tough using style. The Cowboys didn’t wish to take him off a field. Joseph Randle supposing a hint and good change of gait when he got his turn, rushing for 343 yards on 51 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Dunbar wasn’t as large a cause given of Murray’s dominance, rushing 29 times for 99 yards and throwing 18 passes for 217 yards.

Tight ends

B Starter: Jason Witten. Backups: James Hanna, Gavin Escobar.

Jason Witten’s numbers weren’t what they were in a past given of a concentration on a using diversion and a need to get a turn to Dez Bryant. But he showed care in sacrificing his prolongation for a good of a team. He held 64 passes for 703 yards and 5 touchdowns and was an critical cause down a widen and in a playoffs. The Cowboys continue to onslaught in anticipating a purpose for Escobar. Of his 9 receptions, 4 went for touchdowns. But he had usually dual catches in a final 9 games of a season. Hanna remained a arguable blocker.

Wide receivers

A Starters: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams. Backups: Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street.

The Cowboys done a indicate to make Dez Bryant a primary aim of a flitting game, and he came by with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and a league-leading 16 touchdowns. Double coverage, singular coverage — nothing of it mattered as Bryant was a cause via and done his second uninterrupted Pro Bowl. Terrance Williams played a good Robin to Bryant’s Batman with 37 catches for 621 yards and 8 touchdowns. Beasley emerged as a critical third receiver with 37 catches for 420 yards and 4 touchdowns, displaying a knack for removing open in a slot.

Offensive line

A Starters: LT Tyron Smith, LG Ronald Leary, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT Doug Free. Backups: T Jermey Parnell, T Tony Hills, T Donald Hawkins, G Mackenzy Bernadeau.

There was many discuss about either Tony Romo or DeMarco Murray should be in a using for NFL MVP. The organisation MVP was a descent line, led by Pro Bowlers in tackle Tyron Smith, core Travis Frederick and ensure Zack Martin. The section paved a approach for Murray to lead a joining in rushing and supposing time for Romo to be a many accurate and fit quarterback in a league. Leary was plain during left guard, as was Free during right tackle. Parnell showed he could be a starter during right tackle subsequent season. He transposed a harmed Free for a final dual games of a unchanging deteriorate and a dual playoffs games, and a line didn’t skip a beat.

Defensive line

C Starters: DE George Selvie, DT Tyrone Crawford, NT Nick Hayden, DE Jeremy Mincey. Backups: DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DE Anthony Spencer, DE Kenneth Boatright, DT Terrell McClain, DT Josh Brent. Injured reserve: DT Henry Melton.

The Cowboys didn’t make a lot of plays adult front, yet they played hard. The Cowboys hoped Henry Melton would have a outrageous impact, yet he never truly recovered from 2013 knee medicine and finished a deteriorate on harmed reserve. Tyrone Crawford emerged as a starter during tackle and could be a long-term answer during a position. Anthony Spencer returned from microfracture medicine and valid to be an impact actor late in a season. The best and many unchanging actor via was Jeremy Mincey, who led a organisation with 6 sacks and succinct a hard-working, overachieving inlet of a unit.


C Starters: OLB Anthony Hitchens, MLB Rolando McClain, OLB Bruce Carter. Backups: OLB Kyle Wilber, OLB Keith Smith, MLB Cameron Lawrence, OLB Dekoda Watson, OLB James Anderson.

Rolando McClain was a godsend during core linebacker after a detriment of Sean Lee in minicamp. The Cowboys talked a former Oakland Raiders bust of out retirement, and he brought a physicality not seen in years. He finished second on a organisation in tackles and was a league’s second-best inside linebacker opposite a run, according to Pro Football Focus. Bruce Carter competence have found a home during strongside linebacker and led a organisation with 5 interceptions. Hitchens was a outrageous get in a fourth round, personification all 3 linebacker positions given of injuries as a rookie and finishing third on a organisation in tackles.

Defensive backs

C Starters: LCB Brandon Carr, RCB Orlando Scandrick, SS Barry Church, FS J.J. Wilcox. Backups: CB Tyler Patmon, CB Sterling Moore, S Jeff Heath, S Jakar Hamilton. Injured reserve: CB Morris Claiborne.

The best thing a Cowboys did in a delegate was extent large plays. Nobody played improved in a secondary, presumably on a whole defense, than cornerback Orlando Scandrick, whose chippy corner valid to be a unit’s personality. According to Pro Football Focus, Scandrick did not concede a touchdown in primary coverage all deteriorate and graded as a eighth-best cover cornerback in a league. Carr struggled during times and still hasn’t had a interception given Week 1 of 2013, yet he played his best football during a finish of a season. Barry Church led a organisation with 110 tackles and grew to be a plain and arguable safety. J.J. Wilcox still has difficulty with missed tackles and over-aggressive play.

Special teams

B K Dan Bailey, P Chris Jones, LS L.P. Ladouceur, KR/PR Dwayne Harris

Dan Bailey became a career many accurate kicker in NFL story during a unchanging deteriorate when he done 25 of 29 field-goal attempts and missed usually dual kicks underneath 50 yards. But his dual misses in a playoffs sinister an differently shining season. Chris Jones averaged 39.8 yards per try and downed 21 punts inside a 20. Dwayne Harris was not a difference-maker on earnings as he has been in a past, yet he did lead a organisation with 18 tackles on special teams.


A Jason Garrett led this team. Players shouted his words. They believed in his module and followed him to a hilt. This was his team. Offensive play-caller Scott Linehan gets credit for maximizing a talents of Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray, branch them into a new large three. Nobody did a improved pursuit than defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who took a garland of lemons and done a self-evident lemonade with a talent-deficient section that played tough and essentially sound.

More carter...

› tags: FindingCarter /