The 2011 season is in the books, now lets go back and check the results versus what I thought going in. I'll be posting what I wrote from preseason and midseason as a commentarial basis of comparison. This was the year of the pessimist, no doubt. I can't even remember how many people predicted a 8-8 season. At the time, I thought that was bummer-ville to have that kind of season awaiting us. Kudos to those party crashers for their predictions. I said I thought this team was capable of going 10-6 with the schedule they had ahead of them. Capable yes, and looking at it, this team doing something like that more than likely would have been the result of them over-achieving a few games rather than actually being good. Had they made the playoffs 9-7 or better, they almost certainly would have gone 1 and done in epic flame-out style. I am more than ok with them falling out of the playoffs and obtaining the 14th pick. Not that I wished for it.
Tony Romo's production trends upward this year. No Roy Williams and much more Dez will be a boon for him. I'm including what I think his interceptions will be like this year. We'll see if he can top his ball control from '09.
It sure feels like Tony has disappeared from the 'importance' of the games, doesn't it? I mean it feels like he's taking a back seat to all the good and all the bad thats been going on lately. Its weird, but I kind of like it. Detractors will say we aren't taking about him because he's not good enough to carry us. K, that's fine. A man known for losing games for us early in the season is now... not losing games for us? I'll take it, its refreshing. OK so, his passing is a bit off, up to this point he's throwing more than usual while not improving his receptions, leading to a 2% drop in accuracy. The weird data points? The Lions games and Rams games. The Lions game was his most attempts and his most accurate, not to mention his most interceptions. Without those interceptions, it would have been his best performance of the year, not to mention probably the biggest win. His lowest passing attempts came against the Rams when we suddenly had a running game thanks to DeMarco Murray. In the 3 games that we've had Murray for, Romo has played conservatively since the absolute need to pass is lessened. Except of course against the Eagles where the defense letting us down forced our hand into taking more, less accurate, shots.
I would say my predictions were pretty accurate for Tony, thats because he's a steady producer. He's just doing what he always does. Despite some controversial games he controlled the ball as good as he's ever done in his career. He is nearly always good for 2 TDs a game. He will almost always pass for over 4,000 yards, which that stat alone will place you in the top 10 of teams. This year he was really accurate in throwing the ball. Throughout his career he usually hovers around 62% accuracy, this year he was much better with 66%. I can quite comfortably say Tony is not the problem with this team. Despite missing a game and it counting against him, he still managed to place 4th in passer rating. Now, I will say this offense needs to perform better. Their passing efficiency rated 12th, depending on where you get your data. Oooo... above average, hooray. If you want to win the Super Bowl, rating in the top ~3 in passing efficiency is a really good thing to do. How do you improve the offense? Thats a subject for another time.
Mr. Reliable matches his production from the last two years.
Witten is another player who I feel has gone quiet, just a feeling. He's partially a victim of the 'conservative' passing game as of late. Truth is in recent weeks he's caught less passes than usual but up to this point has gotten more efficient in the yards he's gotten out of those receptions. Still projects for a 1K season.
Jason just missed having a 1K season. As you can see, he disappeared from grabbing TDs late in the season. All in all, he's done about as well as he has been.
Miles continues his high level production this year. What else is there to say?
Injuries and conservative passing make for a unproductive season. It's sad. Miles was on fire against SF, I had hoped to see more of that this season. He's missed two games already and will now miss 2-3 more, so it would appear he'll simply repeat his production from the first half to the second. That means as of right now he'll miss a 1K season by what looks to be a wide margin.
Miles missed nearly half the season with injures, lets hope it was just a byproduct of the lockout. Had he played all the games he would have gotten close to 1K, maybe surpassed it.
How many of you dream of Miles and Dez both getting 1000+ yards? Well, in order for that to happen our recent, historic 3rd receiver production would have to go way, way down. It is possible, now that Roy Williams is gone, to project that Dez gets the reps he would have gotten. Even if I wanted to be super realistic I would still say the kid is not going to get less than 800 yards. I'm going to go against the odds and say this scenario will happen. This of course is assuming Dez realizes his potential in only his second year. Go get 'em Dez.
Honestly Dez has been underwheling, I hate to say that. He is certainly catching less balls than he should have. Then again, everybody's receptions have been down. This kid should be able to break 1K, so far it doesn't look like it, he could surprise us though.
For his second season, Dez did pretty good. Almost made his first 1K. Now, I will say there were some times that Dez appeared to disappear. Like the first giants game, 1 catch? It was a hell of a catch, but a few more would have put the team over the top. Tony did throw 4 TDs in that game so there probably wasn't much more to go around. However, in order for this offense to take the next step, Dez's production will need to continue to rise next year.
I'm going to go ahead and say Felix gets more carries than last year, approaching what Barber got in '09. I think this year we'll see his running efficiency go up, but nothing crazy. If he does goes crazy he'll hit 1200 yards.
Felix has been hands down the biggest disappointment of the year. Many of us were quite certain he would have a breakout year. Truth is, he's had one good game this whole season, and has only one touchdown. Even had he not been injured he would have been on pace for 809.6 yards. That is simply not good enough for our lead back. It would be good however for a secondary back, which is what he really is.
Missed 5 games with injury, normal for him? Can't say. Even though he had injury and lost his starting job to a rookie, I'd still be quite happy having him as the 2nd back. He had up and down games all season but still averaged 4.5 YPC in the end, none too bad.
Rob Ryan Production Boost!
Ware is currently half a sack behind Jared Allen for the season sack leader. Its surprising how he blew up in that Eagles game isn't it?
Ware clearly outgunned my sacks prediction, but I knew it would go up versus the previous season. Finished 2nd in sacks. Every player eventually declines due to age. But what do the greats say to regression? Not today!
What would it look like if Rob Ryan got Almost Anthony to be... just Anthony?
Spencer. So, he did his annual disappearing act for 4 games, sounds like a trend to me. I had said earlier that he could disappear and still have the ability to get to 11 sacks, still true. Likely? Doesn't feel quite like it. Even if he does make it, it would probably be due to 1 game in which he goes crazy. Not so sure that would mean much in this contract year. Many people still hold the opinion he should walk. I don't disagree. However, given some of our other weaknesses, I don't feel like he's a part of the problem as much as he isn't apart of the solution as much as Ware or Lee are.
Oh boy. Mr. Controversial. Newman actually has it easy in comparison, he's just old... end of discussion. My projections were based on if Spencer could finally turn the corner, he didn't. He didn't and hasn't. The guy can't help but disappear for stretches. While I feel like Spencer is not the weakest link on the defense, I wouldn't blink at him leaving. The fact is this is how he will always be.
'09 throwback anyone?
The secondary has combined for 6 INTs. Meh?
Those Passes defended might sound alright, its not good enough. This secondary made the team finish below average in every single passing defense category.
RR loves his NT.
Ratliff isn't talked about much these days. Rightfully so, he's only had a couple of good games this season.
Ratliff has had less and less sacks over the past 3 seasons. Is he driving the regression bus? Not good. Lately everyone has been talking about how our pass rush is a problem, mustering only 2 sacks is part of that problem.
Breakout year for our
1st2nd round pick?
Lee still leads the team in combined tackles even with being injured for 2 games, could be top 10 in the league if not for that injury. Very pleased with his work. And who are these analysts who were saying he is a liability in coverage? The kid has 5 PDef and 3 INTs, what more do you want?
Sean Lee led the team in tackles when it was all said and done, depending on what numbers you are looking at. What he's accomplished in coverage is praise-worthy I think, though I haven't compared him to other backers in that regard. Remember, this is only his second year, he could continue improving. I was a little disappointed he never got a sack. With as much as Brooking was blitzed last year, I expected Lee to blitz and hit home sometimes. Did he even blitz ever? I can't wait for the Bruce Lee combo.
As we all had to deal with this season, this was an on again off again team and players. Improving will be trickier than I think we are expecting. A lot of our offensive players we expect to improve next season, and they need to. We cannot skate by with a merely 'above-average' offense, that will only lead to 'above-average' expectations during the season and eventually 'above-average' disappointment. Make no mistake, this offense needs to take the next step. OL aside, I expect heavy turnover on defense. The fact is the whole secondary disappointed. We handed out a few contracts to dare I say JAGs and we'll be stuck with them for a while. All we can do is replace some of them and hope for the best in the immediate future. The pass rush is a subject that needs to be further examined. I will work on it.
Now that its the offseason, I will start posting again. I like to have a seasons worth of data to look at and draw conclusions from. During the season its hard to come up with something to write about. I could churn out the same tired exposition about how important this game is or isn't, but thats not what I really enjoy writing about. I enjoy writing about the lesser concrete memes that get thrown around. Like our pass rush. I like drawing comparisons to the entire league to find out what works, what doesn't, and what to do about it.
Welcome to the offseason folks.