I talked to K.C. Joyner tonight about a number of Cowboys, NFC and NFL issues. Some nuggets from the Football Scientist:
BTB: Tony Romo is getting some love this year for his improved interception totals. How does he rate in your bad-decision percentage ratings?
K.C. Joyner: I don't have the number in front of me, but it is somewhere between two and three percent. That's the comfort zone for a quarterback who plays a more aggressive, down-the-field game. This is the second year that he's dropped down. He was much worse in '07 [when Dallas was 13-3]. He was up around four percent that year, which is high, but last season, his BDP was 2.4, which up him 15th in the league.
BTB: The Pro Bowl rosters were announced yesterday. You're the guy who popularized YPAs for receivers and CBs. Name your starting corners.
K.C. Joyner: In the AFC Darrell Revis (Jets) gets one spot and I would give Leon Hall (Bengals). Revis gets all the attention and he deserves it, but Hall has been just as good at taking away top receivers.
In the NFC, Charles Woodson deserves one spot. Of the others named, I'm okay with Dominique Rogers Cromartie getting a spot but I don't think Asante has had a top year. Both he and Sheldon Brown are having down years by their standards.
Jabari Green (Saints) was worthy of the other spot before he got hurt. Antoine Winfield was playing well for the Vikings but has dropped off since he came back from his injury. I would probably go with Aqib Talib of Tampa at the other spot. He's had a strong second half.
(Mike Jenkins got some attention but right now he's rated just outside Pro Bowl level.)
BTB: You compile run-blocking metrics. What can you say about the Cowboys' short-yardage problems?
K.C. Joyner.: They don't have a classic fullback and that hurts them some. But they're not a consistently dominant line. They can make big blocks, and they have good backs so they can spring them for big runs, but they're not consistent and it's caught up with them lately.
BTB: You've graded a lot of Cowboys' tape. What's your book on Miles Austin?
K.C. Joyner: I've probably graded about a dozen Cowboys games. I'd still like to see more of Austin. I guess I still have some questions about him. When he faces mediocre corners he's not just good, he destroys them. He's been solid against top corners, but I'd like to see more of his matchups against top competition. The Raiders have not been matching Nnamdi Asomugha up against number one corners this year for some reason, and he didn't match up against Austin when Oakland played Dallas.
I'll give you a name Austin resembles to me. I had the same questions about Vincent Jackson a year or two ago. Great against lesser corners and okay against the top guys. Now, he beats everybody. If Miles Austin follows the same developmental curve, that's good for Dallas.
BTB: Can you handicap the NFC playoff field?
K.C. Joyner: I had the Eagles as my favorite, going back to the preseason, but I'm not sure about them now that they've lost Jamaal Jackson. I think it's a wide open field.
* * * *
K.C. mentioned that he has been breaking down tape of top level college players and should have lots of data on draft prospects after the season. He said the skinny on draft '10 is that it's the best d-lineman draft in a long time. He's already looked at a handful of linemen who he would give first round grades.
That said, he's not impressed by the idea of drafting a nose tackle and moving Jay Ratliff wide. His '08 run-defense metrics put Ratliff at the top of nose tackles. He still rates Ratliff as an elite NT and thinks moving him could weaken two spots on the Dallas line. He doesn't think a rookie could match Ratliff's play inside and he's also doesn't believe that Ratliff would automatically be better outside, because his game is based on power and technique, not speed.
When told that many Cowboys fans still don't think Ratliff can hold up inside at 302 lbs., he said, "how many fans would love to get Ndamukong Suh? He's dominating at the college level and I assure you, he's not 330 lbs. He's in the 300-305 range."