Yesterday, I graded this season for the Cowboys so far on the offensive side of the ball as well as the coaching and front office. If you would like, you can read that full article here: http://thelandryhat.com/2013/10/30/dallas-cowboys-midseason-report/
Today, the defense and special teams get their midterm report cards. As I am sure you can imagine, this is going to be far less positive. For a group that is dead last in total yards allowed and passing yards allowed and near the bottom in rushing yards allowed and first downs allowed, what would you expect? To borrow a reference from Forrest Gump, this defense is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get. They have been generous, giving up 51 points once and 31 points twice. They have been stingy holding teams to three points and seven points. Mostly though, they have been flat out inconsistent.
This was a tough unit to grade. On one hand, the expectations should be lowered since guys like Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer never or barely played and are now both likely to never be part of this team again. Factor in the injury to DeMarcus Ware which has kept him out of two games and there goes 75% of your starting lineup. This does not even take into account Ben Bass and Tyrone Crawford. On the other, these guys are all professionals and get paid to do their job. As I previously mentioned, Rod Marinelli has been the one shining light of this coaching staff and his work here has been almost miraculous. He has bled the turnips dry getting production out of guys like George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Kyle Wilber, Drake Nevis and Jarius Wynn. He has Jason Hatcher playing like a Pro-Bowl lock. All that being said however, the Cowboys are in the bottom third in sacks and are not getting to the quarterback enough to protect the defensive backs on the back end. Against Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford, the team registered only two sacks period which undoubtedly helped lead to the otherworldly numbers put up by those QB’s.
I feel like this is a good time for me to add my two cents to the whole Jay Ratliff situation. Fair or not, this unit probably would have graded a half grade higher but as earlier referenced, the expectation set by this organization was that Ratliff was supposed to be available sometime this year. From all the reports out there, it seems like Ratliff lied about the severity of his injury causing false optimism. False optimism is also something Jerry Jones is well-known for however so I wouldn’t be shocked if he was unaware of how bad it really was and publicized the information incorrectly. Either way, this debacle has affected the team and this season before it even started. Surely, a better contingency plan would have been put into place had this been correctly diagnosed. While I am happy to see Ratliff leave, I would like to know the truth but alas, that is probably not going to happen any time soon.