Demarco Murray

2011 Dallas Cowboys Player Analysis: Offense

Quarterback

Tony Romo:
With 6 seasons starting under his belt, Romo enters the 2012 season at age 32 as a mature passer with great pocket presence and awareness. With an upgrade at the interior of the offensive line, Romo should have another great statistical year. Will he have a Super Bowl winning year? We’ll see…

Stephen McGee:
McGee enters a contract year where he hasn’t had much of a chance to show he is a capable backup to Romo, besides preseason and 3 games in which he’s had mixed reviews. The team could choose to draft competition at the backup spot or try to acquire a veteran to compete with him this off season. Eventually, the team will have to get serious about the QB position and draft a future replacement for Romo, since I doubt McGee is that guy.

Running Back

Demarco Murray:
2011′s third round pick exploded in week 7 against St.Louis, when given the starting nod because of a Felix Jones injury, and never looked back. Demarco would have two more 100+ yard games before going down for the season with a fractured ankle in week 14 against the Giants. The Cowboys seem to have found their workhorse back in Murray, as he figures to be the starter in 2012.

Felix Jones:
Felix missed a quarter of the season due to injury, something that has plagued him during his 4 year Cowboy career. (missed 16 games total) His amazing speed and fluid cuts keep fans hoping he can finally beat the injury bug and be the change of pace back Jerry was hoping for when he was drafted in the first round in 2008. 2012 is the last year on his rookie deal, so he has a lot to prove if he hopes to be rewarded with a second contract.

Phillip Tanner, Chauncey Washington, Sammy Morris:
The contract details of all three backs are undisclosed, but good money says Washington and Tanner will be in the mix again next season for the number three back role. Morris was more of an experienced fill-in for 2011.

Fullback

Tony Fiammetta:
Tony and Laurent Robinson were our free agent gems this year. The running game suffered immensely when Fiammetta was out due to injury and illness. His history (missed 14 games in 3 years) suggests we should not overlook the possibility of upgrading this position, however if he can find a way to remain on the field, we might have our best true fullback since “Moose” Johnson. Demarco Murray called him “the best fullback in the league”.

Shaun Chapas:
For whatever reason, Chapas  didn’t find his way on to the roster until week 13 and was inactive by week 16. He was clearly not ready for game action this year, but the 2011 7th round pick figures to get another shot in training camp in 2012.

Tight End

Jason Witten:
The consummate professional…If this team had 52 other Jason Witten’s we’d win the Super Bowl every year. I just hope age doesn’t catch up to him before this team is ready to compete for one. He remains the starter for 2012 and beyond.

Martellus Bennett:
The exact opposite of what Jason Witten is and stands for. Although, improved all-around in the second half of the season, Martellus is by all accounts a disappointment considering what was given up to get him in the second round in 2008. If you are looking for a very good blocking tight end, Marty B is your guy, but that blocking comes with a price. His hands are as inconsistent as they come as well as his behavior. He has God-given athleticism and talent, but just doesn’t have the maturity or sense enough to put it to good use. His contract is up and he is a goner.

John Phillips:
Hand picked by tight ends coach, John Garrett in 2009, Phillips has shown promise as a solid backup tight end. Injuries have slowed him down, but he should be the primary backup to Witten in 2012. I would expect the Cowboys to draft or sign a street free agent 3rd tight end to the active roster as well.

Wide Reciever

Miles Austin:
Miles had an injury plagued year and statistically did not measure up to his high expectations. His numerous drops were a problem as well. The hope is that he can remain healthy during 2012 with a full off-season working with new strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. He needs to get back to his fundamentals again too. Watching the ball into his hands would be a start.

Dez Bryant:
Some people would say he had a disappointing year, others would say he improved as the year went on. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Dez often disappeared in games, leaving fans wondering why the 2010 first round pick couldn’t get the ball and make something happen with his amazing athletic ability. 928 yards receiving and 9 TDs is nothing to get overly worried about and his third season should be his break-out year proving why Jerry took a gamble on drafting a player many thought too risky to chance.

Laurent Robinson:
Robinson was arguably the most pleasant surprise of 2011. Leading the team in touchdowns at 11, Laurent became the go-to guy for Tony Romo earning his trust as the season went on. Laurent is now a free-agent and has probably caught the eye of more than just the Dallas brass. It will be interesting to see what the market will be for him. Hopefully he can agree to a deal with Dallas and be the solid #3 and insurance for this promising young WR core.

Kevin Ogletree:
He showed promise early on in his career and was given every opportunity (probably too much) to show something and just never did. I don’t know what it is with this guy, but I guess some want it and some don’t. He obviously doesn’t want it and I would not expect him to ever wear the star again.

Jesse Holley:
Besides the long 77 yard reception against the 49ers in week two, Jesse really didn’t contribute much to the offense in 2011. His special teams play was consistent, which is where his real value is. The thing that stood out to me this year about Holley is his constant pushing and shoving after the play, causing unsportsmanlike-like penalties. I like that he stands up for his team-mates, but he has to know when enough is enough. I don’t know for sure that he’ll be back in 2012 since is a free agent, but I’d bet he’ll at least be in camp again.

Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Teddy Williams and Raymond Radway:
These are the J.A.G.s (just a guy) I would expect they would all be in camp, but none are guaranteed a roster spot. Whomever emerges from this group needs to be a solid special teams player.

Offensive Tackle

Tyron Smith:
I’ll be the first to admit, I was completely wrong in saying we should have traded down and gathered more picks while drafting another OT such as Anthony Costonzo or Gabe Carimi. Dead wrong. This is why the scouts make the big bucks, and I drive a Toyota. Tyron has been excellent this year, surpassing anyone’s expectations and proving he will be the future at left tackle, although spending the season getting his feet wet on the right side.

Doug Free:
Free took a major step backwards in 2011. Getting burned by even average pass-rushers. Rumor has it that Free played with a bad back and should be back to form in 2012. Regardless, with Tyron’s play this year, the two are expected to switch sides. Free should be a starter once again, only this time, back on the right side, in 2012.

Jermey Parnell:
I’m not sure anyone knows what we have in this guy. He has cool hair and used to play tight end. That’s about all I can gather. Sorry for the lack of info, there just isn’t any out there. I would expect some competition for the swing-tackle job this year.

Offensive Guard

Kyle Kosier:
Kyle will be 34 in November and is coming off another injury plagued year, although sticking it out for all 16 games. His plantar fasciitis was an issue all year and he tore his MCL in the last game. It should be noted that Kyle again was responsible for the audibles on the oline after both Gurode and Costa proved incapable of handling such task. Kyle has another two years left on the deal he signed this past July, although the $2.1 million signing bonus money is already paid, making it possible to drop him without a major CAP hit. I would expect his position will be replaced either in free-agency or the draft.

Montrae Holland:
Montrae looked decent when he finally got in shape and signed after the season had already begun, although he tore his bicep in week 16 vs. Philadelphia. I think Montrae would be good insurance for a starter, but I would not want him starting again in 2012. An upgrade is needed here. Holland will be a free agent in 2012 and I would not expect Dallas to shell out good money to him again unless it is after the season has started and it’s not guaranteed.

Derrick Dockery:
Derrick was signed after being a long time starter in Washington. Dockery showed he can be counted on in spot duty, but is no longer a 16 game starter. Like Holland, Derrick is a free-agent in 2012 and I would expect Dallas to not shell out good money to him until after the season starts, again, when it’s not guaranteed.

Bill Nagy:
The former Wisconsin center switched to guard after being drafted (hurt) in the seventh round in 2011. He surprisingly beat out fellow draft pick David Arkin and veteran Montrae Holland in camp and earned the starting left guard position. His season was cut short after starting just four games due to a broken ankle. Nagy was physically over-matched during his brief time against NFL quality linemen. He should benefit from a strong off-season conditioning program and compete for one of the starting spots along the interior of the 2012 oline.

David Arkin:
We heard how gifted this guy was after the draft, despite no one ever hearing his name mentioned once during the very vocal draft season. Somehow, this very gifted guard went from promising to not NFL ready by the start of the season. Arkin was never active on game-day, but the coaches either see something in him that no other team did or are not ready to admit their mistake yet. His future is very cloudy. Hopefully this training camp will provide a clue as to what exactly David Arkin is.

Center

Phil Costa:
Costa is a second year pro who earned the starting center job after Andre Gurode was among those in the final cuts. He struggled mightily during the season in just about every way imaginable. (false starts, high snaps, not knowing the snap count, physically over-matched, etc.) I would expect him to compete for a job on the interior of the line again this year, but a starting job is not guaranteed. Costa needs some serious time in the weight room and studying film as well if he expects to be starting at this level again.

Kevin Kowalski:
Kevin was active in eleven games this season and was used mainly as insurance at center, playing well in place of Costa. (particularly a run play where he pulled, ran past left tackle and blocked for a Felix Jones first down at the end of the season) I would put him right along the same lines as Costa, although Kowalski is just a rookie, so in theory that puts him ahead of schedule. Kevin needs a strong off-season in the weight room and should be able to compete for a job along the line in 2012.

Comments
  1. Tom

    Nice analysis. Great job.

  2. Joe D.

    Awesome job on this Nate. Loved all the detail and analysis you included. Is this the fourth straight offseason where we can all agree the secondary is a disaster? When are we ever going to address this damned problem? I’m sick and tired of talking about this every year and seeing nothing done about it.

  3. Nitro

    Not bad for someone who lives in chicago and I really wonder how many games you see but overall a real good job

  4. Chris

    Awesome Job , Nate. Well detailed , Great info …..

  5. Andrea

    Always bright in your analyses, Nate. You know I usually agree with you on most things and this time is no different, plus on offense things are a bit more clear-cut than on defense. To just say one thing I don’t completely agree…Holley. He had that long TD run, but apart from that, all those few times he’s been thrown the ball to he caught it…he’s had a 100% completion rate and I see that limit you say as s.ing that can be corrected and indeed just shows how much of a team guy he is. I love Holley. Instead, I would TRADE immediately Dez for some draft pick…better now than it’s too late……..I had enough of his crap, Bennett is an angel in comparison…

  6. Rob V.

    Nice job Nate. As you know I had high hopes for Ogletree, but he has not grabbed his opportunity to shine. So long to Bennett as well.

    Can’t wait to see your defense.

  7. nate

    Thanks guys. I’m working on defense now.