Cowboys’ Surprise Players Taking NFL By Storm


Many will claim the sample size is far too small.  The number of opportunities and obstacles are simply too few with 13 games still ahead.

Surely 3 games is just not enough football to jump to conclusions and make any concrete assessments, right?  I say line up for a few hundred plays in the NFL and let me know how much football that was.

I’m certainly not going to crown the Cowboys as NFC East champs after 3 games. The Boys in Dallas are shining bright while the rest of the NFC East contestants are melting like hot butter on defense.

Yes, in the grand scheme of a season, it’s far too premature for a bold conclusion such as that.

However, I will say the unlikely performances of several Cowboys’ players after 3 weeks has been nothing short of brilliant.  Let’s take a closer look at the details.


It’s not abnormal Tony Romo is having strong success so far in 2013.  His joining the elite to this point has to be outright surprising to Romo bashers.

Sir Romo is rated 5th in the NFL with a 103.9 QB Rating out of 32 QB’s who have taken at least 100 snaps.

If you are in the top 5 in QB Rating in this league, you’ve earned a seat at the elite table.

For those who aren’t sure what comprises an NFL QB Rating (or Passer Rating) don’t feel bad, not many do.  It all begins with locating a QB’s…a) completions per attempt % ,  b) yards per attempt average ,  c) TD per attempt % ,  d) INT per attempt %.

You then progress the above 4 figures through these further calculations…

Seem hard enough already, just wait there’s much more.  Next you take the above calculations and squeeze them into this bad boy…

Not much fun for the typical football junkie.  The bottom line is the QB Rating is the most complete, accurate assessment of a QB’s performance.  And most importantly, Tony Romo is the 5th best QB in the NFL at the moment.


It seems like merely months ago Barry Church was about to take the field for the first time after healing from a ruptured Achilles that stole most of his 2012 season.  Mind you, 2012 was his first season to ever start in the NFL.

An Achilles is a nasty injury for a DB.  Often times it is one that the player never returns with the same burst or cut speed.  Cowboy fans and management had every right to be worried.

After all, the team decided to extend his contract through 2016 for $13 million AFTER he was injured.  $3.8 million of that was guaranteed, meaning if he didn’t return to form, Dallas would get burned to the tune of almost $4 mil.

So where does this mystery man with less than a handful of starts under his belt and a repaired ruptured Achilles stand today?  182 snaps later, Barry Church is currently the #1 rated 2013 safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.

That’s right, even above _____.  You fill in the blank to the left because whatever safety you pop in, Barry Church trumps him at the moment at PFF.  Just for a reference point, there are 62 NFL safeties with over 130 snaps so far.


Not to be outdone by Barry Church, and no less shocking to us all, take a wild guess where Doug Free ranks at Pro Football Focus?  Free is currently tied for the #1 best offensive tackle in the entire NFL.

Think it’s too early to count chickens? Doug Free has been involved in 208 offensive snaps and withstood solid NFL veterans through 3 games.

This is the guy who was splitting starter reps, borderline being cut, and had his salary chopped to bits.

The same guy who finished 2012 ranked 66 of 88 tackles.  He gave up 41 hurries, 6 sacks, and 4 QB hits.  To top all that off, Free led the team with 15 penalties.

Finally, he finished 2012 next to last of all the Cowboys’ players in overall performance, just above Mackenzy Bernadeau.

Where is Free after 3 games this year?  He leads all Cowboys with an 11.2 player ranking, just above Jason Hatcher.  The rebound master is also walling off all NFL offensive tackles at the moment, aside from his shadow, Buffalo’s Cordy Glenn.


What in the world got into Jason Hatcher’s cereal bowl.  Wow.  The once serviceable defensive end has become a beast.  He slices into the backfield these days like a raging hatchet.

Let’s just marvel at where he stands on the NFL’s DT performance rankings. He’s 2nd in QB hurries with 10, only player above is King Kong Suh…aka Ndamukong Suh.

Hatcher is 2nd in QB sacks with 3, only trailing one of the strongest men in all of football, Dontari Poe.  Lastly his overall DT rating on PFF is 3rd out of 38 players with 100 snaps or more.

Jason Hatcher has been slugging it out with the biggest, strongest men on the football field for 3 weeks and 146 snaps…and the transformed co-star for now has attained top 3 DT and feature attraction status.


Sure Tony Romo is not foreign to solid QB play, yet his surprising tear through the QB ratings in 2013 has to account for some shock.

However, no one would have believed after 3 games Barry Church and Doug Free would be leading their positions in performance.

With a defensive line set to feature Pro Bowlers DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer, who would have ever thought Jason Hatcher would be blazing a path to star player and Pro Bowl status.

And we haven’t even dove into the domination of DeMarcus Ware, the new shutdown mentality of Orlando Scandrick, or the shocking play of journeyman George Selvie.

One thing is for sure, these 2013 Cowboys are storming the NFL on several levels and finally look like a formidable bunch to handle.  With only 3 games behind us, there is no doubt much more glory and surprises are on the way.