In the first season after losing franchise cornerstone Vaughan Abraham, the Dallas Cowboys have somehow managed to stay atop of a competitive NFC East with a 5-3 record. Unfortunately, keeping up at the head of the division will be a tough task, with quarterback Graham Burnett out for the next 3 or 4 games. Meeting fan expectations of 10-12 wins seems difficult now, and much rests on the shoulders of backup Luke Williams and the Cowboys' defense.
Graham Burnett: 146/247 (59.11%), 1,822 yards, 15 TD, 4 INT, 95.58 QBR, 7.38 YPA
Luke Williams: 22/34 (64.71%), 220 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 80.52 QBR, 6.47 YPA
With the departure of Vaughan Abraham this offseason, we needed to shift more of our focus to the passing game. Burnett has done a reasonable job in his second season as a starter, especially with his ability to take care of the football. Ideally, I'd like to see his numbers rise a bit more, and give him some more attempts per game, but unfortunately his injury makes this an unlikely prospect. Stepping in for Burnett during his injury is Luke Williams. Williams was decent in his performance against the Giants, completing almost 65% of his passes. Unfortunately I have my doubts on whether this can last, Williams played poorly in his few outings last season, and I'm worried that he'll struggle against better competition.
Adrian Robinson: 131 Carries for 529 yards, 5 TDs, 5 Fumbles, 3 lost, 4.09 YPC; 4 receptions for 44 yards, 1 Drop
Jayden Huff: 3 carries for -6 yards
Adrian Robinson took over the starting role this year, and has been fairly disappointing. His performances have been extremely inconsistent, sometimes breaking 5 YPC with ease, and others struggling to get any yardage at all. This inconsistency may point to an issue with coaching, as it appears that some teams have figured out my plans with ARob while others just seem to let him run wild. More troubling with ARob has been his hands, 5 fumbles over 8 games is terrible, and he'll have to take care of the football better if he wants to keep his position. Huff came in as the 3rd down back for the first game, and subsequently fell apart, not much to talk about there barring an injury to Robinson.
Francisco Gibson: 36 Receptions for 564 Yards, 5 TDs, 4 Drops
Rodney Montgomery: 37 Receptions for 545 Yards, 5 TDs, 0 Drops
Austin Medina: 29 Receptions for 377 Yards, 3 TDs, 4 Drops
Alex Gash: 21 Receptions for 220 Yards, 3 TDs, 0 Drops
Gabe Berrientos: 7 Receptions for 81 Yards, 0 TDs, 1 Drop
The trade for Rodney Montgomery finally gave us a true number one wideout, and Montgomery has played the part, leading the team in receptions and touchdowns. The true surprise in this group is from slot receiver Francisco Gibson, who has been having a breakout performance in the last year of his contract. Gibson's exceptional performance this season has been marred a bit by his 4 drops, an issue that has plagued him for his entire career. Austin Medina, a last minute addition this offseason, has had a fairly disappointing start to the season, with 377 yards and 4 drops as well. Special teams captain Alex Gash has once again turned in a solid performance at WR4, and rookie Gabe Berrientos has had a small impact at WR5, hopefully he can grow in his role there.
Charles Sherill: 5 Receptions for 67 Yards, 1 TD, 0 Drops
Erasmus High: 2 Receptions for 18 Yards, 0 TD, 0 Drops
Not much to say here. With the early injury to High, the rooking Charles Sherill has stepped up, but hasn't made much of an impact, as the wide receivers have taken up most of the receiving duty. Ideally High will put up some better numbers as the season goes on, but it looks to be an unproductive season for Cowboys' TEs.
12 Sacks Allowed, OL Rating of 8.48 (3rd in the League)
The transition for Giovanni Garrison to first round pick DJ Franklin has been a bit rocky, especially as we have switched to a more pass heavy attack. Even with a few poor performances by Franklin, we've had some good results. Our drop in the OL rankings has been more from others improvement than our own drop in performance, as our 8.48 rating would still have been the best in the league last season.
Defense (Top 4 Performers - One for Each Major Category)
Cleo Blair: 26 Tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FF
Travis Chatman: 11 Tackles, 4 INTs, 8 PDs
Javier Grady: 15 Tackles, 4 Sacks, 3 TFLs, 1 FR
Joseph Randolph: 12 Tackles, 4 Sacks, 1 TFL
Our defense hasn't really changed too much in the past few years. Cleo Blair is still the head of the front seven, leading the team in tackles even after missing a game. Travis Chatman is still the best corner in the league, and his unit is top 5 in the league in defending the pass. Getting pressure is still struggle for this unit, which is near the bottom of the league in sacks, although both Javier Grady and Joseph Randolph and decently productive. The real pressure on this defense comes when the offense struggles; they've gotten worn out in a few games this season.
Carlos Cruz: 8/12 FG
Freddy Mughelli: Averages 45.43 yards per punt
Cruz has been struggling this year, only completing two thirds of his FG attempts. As he was basically automatic last season, we believe that he'll figure it out sooner rather than later. Mughelli continues to be a solid punter, middle of the pack in punting average.