In the miserable existence that was the life of Dallas Cowboys fan in 2010, a few rays of happiness did cross our paths in the process. Today a few of those rays were recognized and, as usual, another was unceremoniously covered with shade.
The Sporting News handed out their annual awards today, with Jason Witten being named All-Pro tight end and Dez Bryant being named All-Rookie wideout. DeMarcus Ware's name, however, was mysteriously left out of the announcements.
[UPDATE:] Felix Jones has been awarded the Spirit Award by the NFL Alumni Association.
This is the second time that Witten has been named first-team All-Pro, also earning the honor after the 2007 season. He was named to the second-team after the 2008 and 2009 campaigns. Witten was the lone consistent force on the Cowboys offense this season, thriving regardless of who was tossing him the pigskin. Through Romo, Kitna and even unproven youngster Stephen McGee, Witten proved that he is a man amongst boys at the position. Don't believe me? Check out his rankings according to ProFootballFocus.com, and remember the cutoff for being an 'average' player at your position is between -1.0 and 1.0.
- Pass catcher rating: Third ranked at 11.6, highest is Antonio Gates 13.8.
- Pass blocking: Fifth at 2.8, highest is Daniel Graham with a 9.0.
- Run blocking: Leader at 11.8, next closest is Martellus Bennett at 10.8.
- Overall rating: Leader at 25.8, next closest, 17.2 Marcedes Lewis of Jacksonville.
The amazing part is, no one that ranks ahead of him in pass catching or blocking, appears higher on the other lists. He is truly without equal in this league and his nomination is well-deserved. This is Jason's second consecutive season topping ProFootballFocus' tight end rankings.
Witten finished the season with a team-high 94 catches on 128 targets for 1002 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns. All those stats and you're the best run blocking TE in the league? Kudos to you sir.
Follow the jump for more.Dez Bryant didn't get the opportunity to finish out this season because of his broken leg, but when he did play he electrified Cowboys fans in a manner befitting a future number one option. The last time I remember consistently waiting to see what a player would do next was Felix Jones' rookie season. In only 12 games, Bryant was able to amass 45 catches on 72 targets, 561 yards and six touchdowns, plus two exhilarating touchdown returns. When his season was cut short, the difference in the ability of the offense to stretch the field was apparent. There really wasn't any way to keep him off the all-rookie team and still have it remain credible. Look for Bryant to make the All-Pro list in the near future, and to stay listed.
Byrant finished fourth in the rookie of the year voting, behind Ndamukong Suh of the Lions, Rams QB Sam Bradford and Devin McCourty, who manned the corner for New England. All three of those players logged a full 16 game season.
No, stats don't mean everything. However it is an out and out injustice in any award system that leaves DeMarcus Ware excluded. His season-end statistics:
66 tackles, 15 and a half sacks, 9 Tackles For Loss, zero interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown.
The three linebackers named to the 2010 All-Pro team were Clay Matthews of the Packers, James Harrison of the Steelers and Carmeron Wake of the Dolphins. James Harrison is a given. He amassed 100 tackles, 10 and a half sacks, five tackles for losses, two interceptions and six forced fumbles. The Steelers were the number two seed in the AFC and Harrison is their second best player behind Polamalu. Clay Matthews played on a dominant defense, so you can make a case that the statistics don't relate the entire story. Matthews finished with 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, five TFLs, one interception that he returned for a touchdown and two forced fumbles. Somehow, they named this guy the Defensive Player of the Year, but whatever. My eye test says that should easily go to Polamalu, however I can see the case for Matthews being named All-Pro linebacker.
But Cameron Wake? The Dolphins were as big of a disappointment as the Cowboys were. They were expected to make the playoffs but finished with a 7-9 record and seemed to quit on their head coach. Wake ended the year with the following stat line. 57 Tackles, 14 sacks, 12 TFLs, zero interceptions, three forced fumbles. The stats are somewhat comparable, but I think all non-partisan people would say they slightly favor Ware. This doesn't even take into account the pedigree, the fact that Ware leads the entire league in sacks this season, and over the last five years total. He is the first to have double digit totals five straight years since Simeon Rice accomplished the feat. In a toss-up, how exactly does Cameron Wake get the benefit of the doubt? Wake even works with a competent secondary behind him that DeMarcus can probably barely recall the feeling of having.
Also snubbed was punter Mat McBriar, but Shane Lechler is at least his contemporary and I have no problem with him getting that award. Tom Brady received the Offensive Player of the Year award, and Atlanta's Mike Smith was voted Coach of the Year. Alex Barron didn't receive any votes from anybody, not even a vote of confidence from his Pop Warner coach.
According to Gerry Fraley of dmn.com, Felix Jones has been honored by the NFL Alumni Association. As the 2010 recipient of the Spirit Award, Felix has demonstrated a commitment to community service.
Jones is involved in yourth-mentoring programs in the Dallas and Tulsa, Okla., areas. He is also involved with the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee's "Hunger No More" project.