The bye week comes at an inconvenient time for a Cowboys team that, although a bit banged up, would love to get the bad taste of a 24-point collapse out of their mouths. For me, though, the timing is good to conduct a review of the first quarter of the season.
Over the next week, I will analyze the performance of each major player on the team, broken down into four parts (offensive line, offensive skill positions, defensive front seven and secondary).
Quarter-Season Review: Offensive Line
After a very promising 2010 season, Free has regressed badly this year. I really think there is something physically wrong with Free.
I have him “credited” with two sacks and a team-leading 10 pressures. That puts him on pace to give up nearly three times the sacks and twice as many pressures as in 2010 (three and 21, respectively). On top of that, Free has also been penalized three times already.
In the run game, Free has been poor as well. He has failed to move well in space, and the offense is averaging just three yards per carry when running behind him. Until Free picks up his level of play in a significant way, this offense will fail to maximize on their potential.
Nagy has been the Cowboys’ worst offensive lineman. He has yielded seven pressures, which puts him on the same pace as Free since the rookie has played 70 fewer snaps. The problem is that Nagy plays guard, not the more difficult left tackle position, so that rate is far, far too high.
As a comparison, Leonard Davis gave up 16 pressures last season to lead all interior linemen. Nagy is on pace for 28-plus if he plays the remainder of the year.
So Nagy must have been superior as a run-blocker, right? Not really, as running backs are averaging just 2.4 yards per rush when Nagy is at the point of attack. Yikes.
Dockery played hurt for the majority of his 70 snaps, so it is difficult to provide him with a definitive grade. The good news is that, even hurt, Dockery has played better than Nagy. Well, that might not necessarily be good news, especially since Dockery’s one pressure yielded in 70 snaps still puts him at around the same pace as Davis last season.
The ‘Boys have a real problem at left guard.
We all know about the horrific snaps, and there is no real way to put a number on that. What we can put a number on is Costa’s pressures: seven. Freaking seven! Andre Gurode gave up eight in all of 2010. Don’t forget this article.
Costa has blocked fairly well in the run game (the team is averaging 3.5 yards per rush behind him, although I think he’s blocked better than the numbers indicate), but his pass protection has to be of major concern to Jason Garrett. He’s perhaps the largest disappointment on the team to date.
Kosier has allowed four pressures, which isn’t stellar, and his ability to get to the second level is in question. I’ve noticed an obvious decline in production from Kosier this season as compared to 2010.
The major question for Dallas is if that loss of production stems from a decline in ability, or if Kosier has simply played worse than average. I think it’s the latter, but the remainder of the season will be very telling in terms of Kosier’s future in Big D. He has given up four pressures and a sack thus far.
Ah, the lone bright spot on the offensive line. I’ve seen a few criticisms of Smith in the comments, but the rookie has managed to get off to quite the start, in my view.
Let’s start with the film. Tyron has simply looked the part thus far in 2011, displaying great fluidity, power and versatility. He is truly a do-it-all offensive tackle who probably projects to be the favorite to start at left tackle in 2012.
Now to the numbers. I have credited Smith with yielding one sack and four pressures. For an offensive tackle, those aren’t poor numbers. Actually, they’re quite good. As a comparison, Marc Colombo gave up nine sacks and 40 pressures last year in the same position. By the way, Colombo is again leading the league in pressures with 16 through four games, while Smith’s four rank eighth among tackles with 150-plus snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
There’s really no question Smith has been the offensive line’s best run-blocker, too. The four yards the Cowboys are totaling on each rush behind Smith isn’t great, but it is the highest on the offensive line, unfortunately. Let’s not forget Smith’s toughness, as he miraculously returned to play in the opener after hyperextending his knee just prior to the game.
(As always, I will weigh the final grade for each player 60/40 in terms of pass protection over run-blocking.)
- Run Blocking: C-
- Pass Protection: D-
Overall: D (64.0)
- Run Blocking: D-
- Pass Protection: F
Overall: F (67.0)
- Run Blocking: C
- Pass Protection: C
Overall: C (75.0)
- Run Blocking: C+
- Pass Protection: F
Overall: D (65.0)
- Run Blocking: C-
- Pass Protection: C-
Overall: C- (70.0)
- Run Blocking: B-
- Pass Protection: B+
Overall: B (86.0)