As you know, the NFL Network has been running a list of the Top 100 players in the NFL as voted on by the players. The Cowboys have been represented by four players so far, perhaps the most surprising was the inclusion of Andre Gurode at number #57. OCC covered that in a recent post. The other Cowboys to make the list were Jay Ratliff (#75), Tony Romo (#72) and Miles Austin (#70). The next segment of the show covers numbers 50-41.
Over at NFL.com, Pat Kirwan has been doing a similar exercise, except he's breaking it down by position and putting the players in groups of five. Each group is listed in alphabetical order, with the explanation that Kirwan believes there is little difference between the players in a particular group. So far, he's done the quarterbacks and the running backs.
Under the quarterbacks heading, Group A consists of the usual suspects, most of them are Super Bowl-winning QB's. That group is Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.
Our man Romo, he of the recent leap from bachelorhood to married man, falls into Group B, the next tier, with Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Michael Vick.
Kirwan's take on Romo:
Group B (6-10)
3. Tony Romo, Cowboys: He has to stay healthy this year and improve on his 1-3 postseason record or he will fall from this group.
Over the years, we've debated a lot about Romo's postseason record, and how much of that falls on his shoulders, and how much that falls on the entire team. As with most of these types of debate, I tend to think it's a little of both. If you rated Romo on pure production, he would end up much higher on the list, his stats are solid and can't be impeached. But his team has failed to make its mark in the postseason, and like it or not, that is what carries you into the elite. If Romo ever takes the Cowboys to a Super Bowl, his rankings in all these silly lists would skyrocket.
Over on the running backs list, the Cowboys don't fare so well. The lists for any other position besides QB tend to run on pure production. In football, only the QB is held to a standard of taking his team to the mountaintop. If you're a running back, you can be on a lousy team and still end up in the elite. The same holds for the other skill positions outside of QB.
So for the running backs, Group A consists of guys like Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster and Chris Johnson; their teams have basically been non-factors in the race to the top. The top group also has Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner. None of those guys are Super Bowl winners.
We like to think that the Cowboys have a pretty solid stable of running backs, but when ranked individually they are not among the elite, or even in the middle-tier. Witness:
GROUP G (31-35)
2. Felix Jones, Cowboys (>): He never really grabbed the lead role in Dallas. While he has speed and is a factor in the passing attack, it's getting down to a make-or-break situation.
GROUP I (41-45)
1. Marion Barber, Cowboys (v): His physical style is grounds for a short career. It looks like his playing days in Dallas might be numbered.
For comparison, the other RB's in Felix Jones' group are Ronnie Brown, Ryan Matthews, Pierre Thomas and Cadillac Williams.
The low ranking for Cowboys running backs is partly due to our running-back-by-committee approach, Jason Garrett's penchant for the pass, and some poor run-blocking from the offensive line.
This year, in the 2011 season, we get to add DeMarco Murray's name for consideration once the season is over. Do you think he'll end up being ranked higher than Felix Jones once the season is over? Or will Felix break out in a big way in 2011?