October was a rough month for the Dallas Cowboys. It featured some crushing defeats and only one victory.
As a team, the Cowboys didn’t execute like they’re capable of doing and blew some close games because of it. While it is a team sport, the Cowboys do have players who show up every week and perform at a high level.
As November arrives, I thought I’d highlight who I think were October’s top performers.
I think that Morris Claiborne gets some undue negativity from fans. A lot of people wonder what would have happened if the Cowboys had drafted Mark Barron.
I think the Cowboys made the right decision.
Claiborne may not have the flashy stats or spotlight that Barron has had, but he has done a better job.
Claiborne is on the verge of becoming a shutdown corner in this league. Not only that, but he is also starting to become a playmaker. In October, Claiborne increased his tackles from September by five, tripled his passes defended and has an interception and fumble recovery.
It’s not only numbers. Claiborne’s pass coverage has been phenomenal. He plays man coverage better than any other player on the team and is able to shut down top NFL receivers.
Let me just throw this stat split at you:
Jason Witten in September: Eight receptions for 76 yards
Jason Witten in October: 43 receptions for 411 yards and a touchdown.
Do I even need to go on at this point?
Witten has been the most complete player on this team since the days of his drop illness.
Witten has also been the reason for any success of this offense. He seems to always be open. Linebackers and safeties simply can’t cover him and even when you have him doubled he still makes spectacular catches.
All you really need to do is look at his tape in the New York Giants game. He was virtually unstoppable.
What makes Witten so good is that he always seems to get yards after the catch. He is aware of the first down markers and is tough to bring down.
Witten is the single most efficient player in this offense and possibly the NFL.
The Cowboys have asked a lot of Danny McCray in the absence of injured safety Barry Church.
He hasn’t disappointed.
You expected to see a large void in the defense with McCray moving into a starting role. However, the defense is moving along as good as it was before McCray arrived, and his transition has been seamless.
In October, McCray has totaled 20 tackles and a pass defended. What has surprised me most is how well McCray moves around in this defense. He plays run defense very well and is also effective in pass defense.
McCray’s play has been the reason that the Cowboys defense has been so effective. It would have been easy for him to come in and be a point of weakness that offenses can exploit.
He came into the defensive lineup with a starter's mentality and that has propelled him to becoming a top performer for October.
Miles Austin has once again proved himself as a No. 1 receiver in this league. His injury history had surrounded him with question marks this season but his play has erased them.
He is the model of consistency. When Tony Romo needs a big play, he looks at Austin.
Here’s what I like about what he’s done this past month. He’s never afraid of the big game. He’s an all-effort player who leaves nothing on the field. In October, he has 20 receptions for 318 yards and two touchdowns.
I think that Dez Bryant has a better skill set than Austin. However, Bryant can’t match Austin’s productivity in games or in practice. Austin continues to be an outstanding professional who desires to master his craft.
Big games are ahead for Austin, but I think in October alone he’s been outstanding.
It was hard for me to put Rob Ryan here because I wanted to keep this all players. But how can you discount what he’s done for this team?
The offense is sputtering out of control and the defense seems to be the only well-coached unit that can consistently show up on Sundays.
Ryan has done a tremendous job with this defense. Especially when you consider what it was in 2011.
That’s pretty impressive.
This Cowboys defense has evolved into a dominant one. The emotional Ryan seems to have the pulse of the players and is constantly challenging them.
The sky is the limit with Ryan calling the defense, and that’s why he is my October MVP.