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Cowboys vs. Eagles: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Dallas

Jonathan BalesAnalyst IOctober 21, 2013

Cowboys vs. Eagles: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Dallas

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    In what was supposed to be one of the NFL’s top-scoring games in Week 7, the Dallas Cowboys took down the Philadelphia Eagles in a contest that featured only 20 total points.

    The Cowboys’ defense was outstanding, holding the Eagles to only 209 passing yards (not counting yards lost due to sacks) and 84 rushing yards on the day. The ‘Boys did a sensational job stopping Philly’s top player—running back LeSean McCoy—by holding him to 81 total yards and keeping him out of the end zone.

    Offensively, the Cowboys didn’t play their best game. The yards were there—368 of them—but Dallas managed just two touchdowns. Two weeks removed from scoring 48 points in a loss, though, the Cowboys will take a win any way they can get it.

    Read on for individual position grades for Dallas after the big win. Each position will be graded as a whole using a combination of stats and early film study results.

Quarterback

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    1. Tony Romo

    2. Kyle Orton

    Romo ended the game with 317 passing yards on 47 attempts—6.74 yards per attempt.

    That’s not a great number; if all we knew was that Romo would end the game with 47 throws and under seven YPA, we'd probably expect a Dallas loss. He also threw two picks, although one was on a Hail Mary right before halftime.

    Despite the lackluster numbers, Romo made some crucial throws down the stretch. When the Eagles pulled to within a touchdown, Romo immediately drove down the field, hitting wide receiver Terrance Williams in the end zone to regain a two-touchdown lead.

    With such inefficient play, Romo would normally receive a “D” grade or worse. But considering he was generally accurate and safe with the ball and led a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown drive, his grade is a bit superior.

    Grade: C-

Running Back

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    1. Joseph Randle

    2. Phillip Tanner

    With DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar down, Randle and Tanner were the only two backs active for Dallas on Sunday. The rookie took his 19 carries for 65 yards, displaying the sort of efficiency (3.42 yards per carry) that we’d expect from a back who weighs 204 pounds and runs a 4.63 40-yard dash.

    The numbers suggest the Cowboys are in trouble with Randle at running back, so they desperately need Murray and Dunbar back in the lineup.

    If there’s one area where Randle can help the Cowboys’ offense, it’s as a pass-catcher. We saw a little bit of that against the Eagles; he added three receptions for 28 yards.

    Tanner wasn’t really part of the game plan with only two carries, although he took one into the end zone.

    Grade: D+

Wide Receiver

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    1. Dez Bryant

    2. Terrance Williams

    3. Miles Austin

    4. Cole Beasley

    5. Dwayne Harris

    On a day when the Cowboys’ offense mustered only two touchdowns, the wide receivers still had respectable numbers. They were again led by Bryant, who had 110 yards on eight catches. He failed to get into the end zone for the second straight game and the third time all year.

    Williams was the recipient of Romo’s lone touchdown pass. It’s pretty clear he’s surpassing Austin on the depth chart. Williams looks far more comfortable than he did to start the season.

    Austin, on the other hand, was held without a catch.

    With 53 yards, Beasley was the Cowboys’ third-leading receiver on the day. He made some really crucial catches on the Cowboys’ final touchdown drive. Beasley still isn’t a quality option in the red zone, but he sure looks like he can add a new dimension to the offense between the 20s.

    Grade: B

Tight End

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    1. Jason Witten

    2. Gavin Escobar

    3. James Hanna

    4. Andre Smith

    Once again, Witten was the only Cowboys tight end with a catch. He had four of them for 48 yards, putting him on pace for a final season stat line of 80/887/7.

    That would keep Witten near the top tier of NFL tight ends, but it would continue his trend of declining efficiency.

    As much as the Cowboys hyped up their “12” and other two-tight end personnel packages in the preseason, it’s pretty clear the offense is more potent with extra wide receivers on the field. You have to wonder if the Cowboys would still have used a second-round pick on Escobar if they knew he’d have four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown through seven games.

    Grade: C-

Offensive Line

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    LT Tyron Smith

    LG Ronald Leary

    C Travis Frederick

    C Phil Costa

    RG Brian Waters

    RG Mackenzy Bernadeau

    RT Doug Free

    RT Jermey Parnell

    The Cowboys’ offensive line has been pretty hit-or-miss this year, giving Romo all day to throw and opening huge running lanes (like versus Denver and St. Louis) or providing very little time at all and no room to run.

    On Sunday, the linemen really rebounded from a horrific start to adjust to what the Eagles were throwing at them.

    The line ended up yielding two sacks on the day, and the two backs totaled 66 yards on 21 carries (3.14 YPC). Randle might have left a few yards on the table, but it wasn’t like there were the same sort of holes that we saw against the Rams.

    Right guard Brian Waters has stood out. The line has improved since his addition, and he’s certainly playing better football than former starter Mackenzy Bernadeau.

    Grade: C-

Defensive Tackle

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    1. Jason Hatcher

    1. Nick Hayden

    2. Drake Nevis

    Hatcher sure has stepped up this season.

    He added another four tackles against the Eagles, as well as a sack—his sixth on the year. That’s already a career high for Hatcher, who’s been in Dallas since 2006, and he’s on pace for nearly 14 sacks.

    It will be really interesting to see what the Cowboys do with Hatcher’s contract because, although he’s playing really good football, he’s also 31 years old. He’s the exact type of player who has burned Dallas in the past, so his future will be really symbolic of that for the Cowboys, too. The team needs to start paying players for what they will do in the future as opposed to rewarding them for quality past play.

    The defensive tackles as a whole get a “B-“ grade because Hayden and Nevis combined for just two tackles.

    Grade: B-

Defensive End

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    1. George Selvie

    1. Kyle Wilber

    2. Caesar Rayford

    2. Jason Vega

    3. Jarius Wynn

    In the preseason, no one could have imagined that the Cowboys’ starting defensive ends would be George Selvie and Kyle Wilber.

    But due to Selvie’s impressive play, Dallas isn’t in a horrible position outside. The Cowboys will obviously benefit from DeMarcus Ware’s return, but Selvie has all of the potential to turn into a star defensive end.

    On Sunday, Selvie had three tackles and 1.5 sacks. He was too much for rookie right tackle Lane Johnson to handle. Wilber had a rough day with just one tackle and no sacks, but recently signed Jarius Wynn teamed up with Selvie on a sack, giving him a half-sack on the day.

    Grade: B+

Linebacker

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    1. Sean Lee

    1. Bruce Carter

    1. Justin Durant

    2. DeVonte Holloman

    2. Ernie Sims

    2. Kyle Bosworth

    After a relatively rough stretch early in the season, Lee is back to playing like a Pro Bowler.

    He had 11 more tackles on Sunday, giving him 71 on the year, and he added an interception as well. He’s the sort of player who won’t make the Cowboys regret handing out a big contract extension.

    Lee was all over the place on a day when the other starters weren’t too involved in the running game. The other linebackers combined for just four total tackles. It’s worth nothing that they looked much better in coverage, holding running back LeSean McCoy to just 26 yards on six catches. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek combined for only 42 yards.

    Grade: B

Cornerback

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    1. Brandon Carr

    1. Morris Claiborne

    Slot: Orlando Scandrick

    2. B.W. Webb

    The Cowboys cornerbacks were sensational in this game. The Eagles wide receivers combined for 141 total yards, 88 of which came from Riley Cooper. The trio teamed up to hold the explosive DeSean Jackson to only 21 yards receiving.

    Carr, Claiborne and Scandrick also combined for nine tackles. They aren’t known for their run support, but the cornerbacks have looked a lot better against the run since Monte Kiffin got to town.

    Carr added a late-game interception that was basically a gift from rookie quarterback Matt Barkley.

    Grade: A

Safety

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    1. Barry Church

    1. J.J. Wilcox

    2. Jeff Heath

    2. Danny McCray

    I predicted a big year from Church, but he’s surpassed all expectations. It’s clear he’s a great fit in Kiffin’s scheme, developing reliability in coverage in the back end to complement his in-the-box ability. Church had just five tackles against the Eagles, although he’s still on pace for 119 on the year.

    Wilcox had a rough game, racking up five tackles but missing a couple others, including a big one on a third-down pass to Cooper. Heath also got some time, and he looked good in coverage. There’s a good chance that he’ll continue to see more snaps moving forward.

    Grade: B

Specialists

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    K Dan Bailey

    P Chris Jones

    LS L.P. Ladouceur

    Bailey made his only field-goal attempt and looked good on kickoffs. Jones hasn’t been quite so effective lately, and he averaged only 38.6 yards on his nine punts against the Eagles. Given that punters can just come in and contribute immediately, you have to wonder if there’s somebody out there who could help the Cowboys with field position and punting inside the 20 more than Jones.

    Grade: B

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