2013 was certainly a frustrating year for Cowboys fans. Another 8-8 record combined with another year of missing the playoffs on the final weekend is enough to drive one crazy. But the Cowboys were a middling team in 2013 and with all the injuries and the lack of contributions from player's they can usually count on, it might even be surprising they made it to 8-8.
Pro Football Focus recently posted their list of the 100 best players from 2013. This list purports to take out of the equation anything a player has done in past years, reputation doesn't count. Unlike the NFL Network Top 100 list which always relies on some element of past reputation, PFF relied only on the grades they gave out in 2013. Of course, the caveat is that PFF grades can be called as subjective as any other grading system. Some people think they are worthy, others think they are bovine manure. There is definitely a lot to debate here. I won't even pretend that I agree with some of this list, but that's why I'm posting it. It gives us a view into our team by people who are not fans of the team, but it also allows us to really think about our team and where it stands today.
So how did the Cowboys do in 2013? Miserable, as you might expect. Only three 2013 Cowboys made the list and one of those players isn't with the team for 2014. And no player ranked higher than 44th.
44. Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys
Smith used his third year in the league to establish himself as one of the best young tackles in the game. His sophomore season (which was his first at left tackle) flashed talent, but this was a year where he really started to put it all together. His second half of the year was especially strong, grading in the green in seven out of eight games while only earning one grade in the red all year long. If Smith can sustain that play throughout an entire season then he'll be finishing higher than 44 next year.
Best Performance: Week 17, PHI @ DAL, +5.0
Key Stat: Gave up just 31 quarterback disruptions on 629 pass-blocking snaps. Good enough for the second best pass blocking efficiency of all left tackles.
Smith is the real bright spot. He's anchoring an ever-improving offensive line, one that just might be able to propel the Cowboys forward into the upper-echelon. But, as always with the Cowboys, there's some downside. Smith was taken in the 2011 draft 9th by the Cowboys. Also available to Dallas in that draft, a player they were said to be interested in, went 11th. That player, J.J. Watt, ended up as the #1 player for 2013 in the PFF list.
66. Jason Hatcher, DT, Dallas Cowboys
The now former Cowboy seemed destined for an even higher ranking after a ferocious start to the year. Unfortunately he missed some time and, when he came back, struggled for consistency in a Dallas front short on talent and overly reliant on him. Still that didn't stop him having a career-best year, grading particularly well rushing the passer where all but four of his efforts earned him a grade in the green. Quarterbacks learned to fear him in 2013.
Best Performance: Week 7, DAL @ PHI, +6.0
Key Stat: 9.1 Pass Rushing Productivity rating was sixth-highest of all defensive tackles.
76. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The first (but not last) running back on this list. The season of Murray went somewhat under the radar with Dallas struggling and other issues in Cowboys country taking center stage. Still, it was comfortably his best year to date as he racked up 1,124 yards and found the end zone nine times while lasting a career-best 690 snaps. That earned him the sixth-highest rushing grade of all running backs and propelled him onto this list for the first time.
Best Performance: Week 3, SL @ DAL, +3.5
Key Stat: Finished seventh overall in our Elusive Rating with a 53.2 score.
It's good to see Murray getting some credit here. As long as he is healthy, and Dallas decides to stick with the running game a little more than they have in the past, Murray should be able to remain a top player in the league.
Anybody noticing one huge omission from this list? How is Dez Bryant not on the list? I mean, how does Marques Coltson or T.Y. Hilton make it over Dez? This is the problem with these lists. I need an explanation for notable omissions because there is just no way I can see Bryant not on the list. What about Jason Witten? Should he be there?
What's your call BTB? Is the list totally bogus or not?