Dallas Cowboys Quarter-Season Grades: Cornerbacks and Safeties

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Dallas Cowboys Quarter-Season Grades: Cornerbacks and Safeties
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Parts I and II of my quarter-season grades looked at the offensive line and front seven, respectively. 

Today, I’ll examine a secondary whose performance was bound to improve from 2010 due to a more efficient pass rush.

 

Cornerbacks


Mike Jenkins

Quietly, Jenkins is rebounding nicely from his horrendous 2010 season.  His receivers have been targeted 21 times in four games, yielding 10 receptions for 123 yards.  That’s good for just 5.86 yards per attempt—an exceptional number for a cornerback. 

I think Jenkins is benefiting from increased pressure from the front seven, but he’s also playing with a lot more confidence than last season.  Plus, his willingness to hit ball-carriers is evident under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

 

Terence Newman

Newman has played just over 120 snaps, giving up 73 yards on 10 attempts.  It is tough to give him a grade, since he’s been in and out of the lineup so much already, but his play in the final 12 games is really important to Dallas.

 

Alan Ball

Ball has been horrendous this season, in my view.  He got picked on badly against the Jets and the Niners, and he’s yielded 176 yards on 15 attempts this season. 

Ball is giving up 7.33 yards pe -attempt—the same as Newman—but he’s also been the only defender whose run defense is still obviously poor.

 

Safeties


Gerald Sensabaugh

I like how Sensabaugh has played this season, even though the stats don’t necessarily back me up.  He has given up nine completions on 11 attempts—good for an 81.8-percent completion rate. 

That in itself wouldn’t be that bad if the majority of the throws were short, but they’ve totaled 122 yards.  He has 17 tackles and hasn’t missed a single one, though.

 

Abram Elam

Elam is a player I think is always going to “look” better than he plays.  He moves really well and just looks like a football player. 

He always seems to be just a step too late, though, and reminds me much of Ken Hamlin.  He’s yielded 120 yards on 10 attempts—nearly the exact same numbers as Sensy. 

The good news is he’s been a hell of a tackler, and that ability to come up and make hits from the safety position is one of the most underrated improvements to this defense.

 

Barry Church

The majority of Church’s playing time came last week after Sensabaugh went down.  He did a fine job, racking up five tackles.  His receivers have been targeted just three times in 91 snaps.

 

Grades

A few notes before looking at my grades—the grades are weighted 3:1 in favor of coverage over run defense, and as always, some stats are provided by PFF.

 

Cornerbacks

 

Mike Jenkins

Coverage: B+

Run Defense: B

Overall: 88.8 (B+)

 

Terence Newman

Coverage: B-

Run Defense: B-

Overall: 80.0 (B-)

 

Alan Ball

Coverage: C-

Run Defense: D

Overall: 68.8 (D+)


Safeties

 

Gerald Sensabaugh

Coverage: B-

Run Defense: A-

Overall: 82.5 (B)

 

Abram Elam

Coverage: B-

Run Defense: A-

Overall: 82.5 (B)

 

Barry Church

Coverage: B

Run Defense: B+

Overall: 86.3 (B)

 

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