When you have a season like the Dallas Cowboys did in 2014, you are going to get some recognition. Pro Football Focus has ranked the top 101 players from the 2014 season, and the Cowboys placed seven players on that list. As you might expect the bulk of those players came from the offensive side of the ball, with only one of them a defensive player. And one of them is no longer a Cowboy. Let's take a look.
There are higher draft picks and more costly free agents on the roster than Scandrick, but no cornerback on the Cowboys played as well as the former fifth-rounder out of Boise State. Despite missing the first two games of the year, Scandrick had a career season on his way to allowing just 9.9 yards per reception while picking up two interceptions and five pass break-ups.
Best Performance: Week 3, DAL @ SL, +2.5
Key Stat: Didn't allow a single touchdown all year.
Nice, it's good to see that Scandrick is finally getting some notice around the league. He's been one of the better values the Cowboys have had recently, a fifth-round pick who has become one of Dallas' top defensive players. Now if they could just get that contract situation hammered out. (There's your one defensive player in the rankings).
He's not going to be confused with a world class sprinter any time soon, but Witten does so many things so well he doesn't need to be. Excellent at finding space running routes and using his body to best close coverage, he's also an important cog in a rushing attack that makes life easy for their backs. At 33-years-old how much longer can he go on for? On the evidence of 2014 a while yet.
Best Performance: Week 16, IND @ DAL, +4.3
Key Stat: Witten's 486 yards from the slot were second most of all tight ends.
The Senator keeps on keepin' on. God bless him.
72. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys (Unranked)
A more balanced offense brought out the best in Romo who put up big numbers in Dallas' surprise big year. His 40 touchdowns and 4,189 yards (including the postseason) jump out at you but it was his accuracy that really stood out, whether on deep or short balls. To think some were writing off the Dallas QB before the season started.
Best Performance: Week 7, NYG @ DAL, +7.0
Key Stat: His 53.6% Accuracy Percentage on deep passes was third best in the league.
Only 72nd in the league? I don't know, that feels kind of low. But I guess all that running Dallas did took the focus off the QB position somewhat.
The frustrating thing about Frederick is his pass protection. You don't often notice centers in pass pro but with 14 QB disruptions allowed you do with Frederick. Yet he's so good in the run game you learn to deal with it, with him able to execute pretty much any block you can think of. He didn't start the season playing as well as he finished his rookie year, but he took a giant leap forward at the end of the year. To think people laughed at the idea of him as a first-round pick.
Best Performance: Week 14, DAL @ CHI, +6.3
Key Stat: Had the highest run blocking grade of any center.
Time for a couple of the big uglies, starting with Fredbeard. Oh those scoffs when Dallas took him in the first round. Highest run blocking grade of any center. Wow.
54. Tyron Smith, LT, Dallas Cowboys (44th)
There are times watching Smith where he can do no wrong. A lockdown left tackle who has the athleticism and strength to make a big difference in the Cowboys zone blocking heavy scheme. At times you almost felt bad for those going against him. He can though struggle at times against more powerful defensive ends in the running game, and it was that stretch from Week 5 to Week 7 that prevented him getting any higher.
Best Performance: WK17, DAL @ WAS, +6.3
Key Stat: Was involved in 10 games where he gave up just one or fewer QB disruptions.
The big guy is locked up in Dallas for a long time at a relative bargain. So steady, so talented. Will Zack Martin join this list next year?
Giving every opportunity to shine, Murray wasn't going to miss out on cashing in behind the Cowboys' stunning offensive line. Led the league in yardage, proving the standout runner during the regular season. Fell behind others because of his work in the passing game combined with the excellence of one other in the postseason. Still, tremendous year.
Best Performance: Week 4, NO @ DAL, +2.4
Key Stat: His 25 runs over 15 yards were most in the league by seven.
We'll miss you, DeMarco, but can't blame you for taking the money. All eyes will be on the new Cowboys running back and how he does behind the dominant offensive line.
His season ended on a downer with the catch that never was, but Bryant shouldn't be disheartened with his career year. During the second half of the season especially he was near unstoppable. just because the playoffs didn't go as he might hoped shouldn't take away from that. A threat all over the field he made many a Sunday tough for a defensive back.
Best Performance: Week 10, DAL @ JAX, +4.0
Key Stat: Bryant had 15 catches on balls that went over 20 yards in the air, a total that had him third among all wide receivers.
The highest ranked of the Cowboys' players. Also, the toughest contract situation the Cowboys are facing. Can a long-term deal get done?
So BTB, what do you think of the rankings? Any players you think they missed, or ranked too high/low?
BTW, the top three were Justin Houston (3rd), Aaron Rodgers (2nd) and J.J. Watt (1st).