Pleasant Surprises

I saw a nice article over at CN comparing Dwayne Harris to Kelvin Martin. That got me thinking about the guys who came into the season with little expected of them and have since shown us that they might have more to offer than we expected. So without further ado:

Bruce Carter

Maybe he doesn’t belong on a list of guys with relatively low expectations who showed that they have more to offer, but he certainly showed me that he has much more than I thought he did, and I had relatively high hopes. I was expecting the guy to struggle some as a first time starter. I knew he had the athletic ability, but I expected more mental mistakes. He has shown to be a student of the game, he can make the play calls, he can be physical, he is special. I hope he and Lee can stay healthy, that will be something to watch.

Jeremy Parnell

He is a guy with the athletic ability and very little experience. I think he is showing that he can be more than just a backup. They will really need to continue working with the guy to get him ready to start. The rotation at right tackle has improved the performance of the line. I guess it is the competition driving improvement from both Parnell and Free. If Parnell takes over, he and Smith would have to be the most athletic pair of tackles in the league.

Dwayne Harris

He has improved so much. He is a dangerous punt returner, a guy who actually does something with a wide receiver screen. He makes good decisions on punts. This is a guy who can do a lot of things and do them well, like Kmart, will likely never be a starter, but will make big contributions.

Ryan Cook

One of the better uses of a 7th round pick. With all the center injuries this team suffered, he was a necessary acquisition and quickly became a necessary starter. He is not great, but I would be comfortable with him in a backup role. The line was worse when he wasn’t in there.

Ernie Sims

He goes from his couch to starting for your Dallas Cowboys. The dude has come in and moved ahead of Conner, he has been able to bring back some of the athleticism lost when Carter went out. I have to say we couldn’t have expected that much from a street free agent.

Alex Albright

He has been forced to play on many occasions both inside and out. The Steelers game was his high point. He has excelled on special teams, save for one blown lane assignment in Bal. The guy is huge and can fill a different role than our other inside backers, short yardage stuffer, over the top of the pile preventer, another guy who likely never starts, but makes the team better.

There are a few guys that are starting to flash more and more. I have hopes that these guys can take the steps to bigger contributions that Harris seems to be taking. The guys I’d put on that list are: James Hanna, Tyrone Crawford, and Cole Beasley.

There were a number of guys with high expectations who have lived up to them: Mo, Carr, Witten, Romo, Hatcher, Murray, Bailey, and Ware. A couple of guys with high expectations have come even further than I could have hoped:


Damn, just damn. This guy has taken huge steps to becoming one of the best in the biz. Ever since the out of bounds fingertips, this guy has been on a roll. The routes have improved, he is where Romo thinks he should be and he catches the ball (cutting him some slack with the broken digit). Playing with the broken finger just elevated his status, he is not a "me first" guy as he had been branded, he is a team guy. His is a story of rebirth, Romo and Garrett refused to let him just use his athletic ability and run go routes all day. They made him do what he didn’t want to do, and after some pushback, he has accepted the direction and he is growing into something special.

Anthony Spencer

He in my mind is the unquestioned MVP of this defense. He does it all inside and outside, play calls, pass rush, run D, pass drops. I am a huge Ware fan, but this year Spencer has been better. He doesn’t have the athletic ability that Ware has, he isn’t as awe inspiring as Ware as a pass rusher, but he gets the job done. I hate to say this but I believe Ware has peaked and has begun the inevitable decline. Spencer is going to be the lead dog. I don’t know how they do it, but they have got to get this guy back. I was on the other side of the Spencer debate last year, but there is no denying his impact this year. He has been special.

There are a few who have done about what was expected and some others that failed to live up to expectations, but I am drinking the kool aid now and enjoying myself, so we ain’t going there. I’m sure I am missing a few so please add in your thoughts on who has done more than you thought they would, keep them positive, there will be plenty of time to point out the flaws later.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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