Over-performing is a difficult term to define because it is linked to preconceived notions. For Marc Colombo to over-perform, for example, he simply needs to play like an average NFL player. If Tom Brady played like an average player, he would be under-performing like no one has ever seen.
With that in mind, take a look at the five players I believe are over-performing the most for Dallas in 2011...and thus the five players most likely to see a regression in their productivity over the second half of the season.
5. Laurent Robinson
Robinson has made the most of his opportunities in 2011, playing primarily as a starter during injuries to both Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. To accompany his 368 yards and two scores, Robinson has a catch rate of 72.7 percent, hauling in all but nine of the 33 passes thrown his way. His 7.0 YAC/reception is stellar.
Robinson has overachieved in the sense that those numbers are unlikely to be replicated over the second half of the season. The Cowboys won’t care, however, if his spot is taken by a healthy Miles Austin.
4. Gerald Sensabaugh
Sensabaugh is a really good player who I rated as one of the top defenders on the team in 2010. He scored well again in my 2011 Quarter-Season Secondary Grades, and he’s actually played even better since that time. He’s yielded 12 completions on the year, none of them for touchdowns, while also racking up 35 tackles—good for second on the team.
The Sensabaugh we saw over the first few games of the 2011 season is the “real” one, while the version that has played out of his mind over the last couple games will come back to reality.
Shocking? As I detailed in my article on Ware’s chances of breaking the all-time sack record, he’s recording pressure and sack rates which exceed his career averages. Ware is going to be an All-Pro-type player for years to come, but we can’t expect him to continually record sacks at his current pace.
The difference between Ware and the other guys in this list, though, is that he has the ability to potentially play at this level over the course of an entire season...or two...or five.
2. Tyron Smith
Outside of a horrific game against the Eagles, Smith has been sensational this season. He’s been so good that I would venture to argue he’s been the team’s best offensive player. Smith is rated as the fifth-best offensive tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus.
The 20-year-old is bound to go through more difficult times, though, and it will be interesting to see how he responds after putting together two stinkers in a row.
1. DeMarco Murray
After the best three-game stretch in franchise history, it is easy to see why Murray is “over-performing.” No one expects him to keep up his current pace, regardless of whether Felix Jones comes back soon or not.
Murray should be the feature back when Jones returns, but expect to see a few mediocre performances sprinkled in between 100-plus-yard outings.