While there is little to gain from overall team analysis of the majority of the preseason; individual efforts can somewhat be evaluated. Of course, every player works within the scheme and within the team, but still there are more than enough instances where players have the opportunity to win a one-on-one battle, read the hole or a myriad of other things they can be judged on.
With that said, here’s a look at some individual grades from Pro Football Focus, for Dallas’ 23-6 loss to the 49ers on Sunday night.
It was a rough night for the offense, as we discussed in our Cowboys Comprehensive recap. Very few opportunities through much of the first half, and then turnovers galore once the third and fourth string quarterbacks entered the game. Three and outs were everywhere and PFF’s grades reflect a lackluster showing. 25 of the 36 players who lined up on offense received negative cumulative grades.
Pro Football Focus is a subjective grade. They look at every play for every player, and assign a grade of between -2.0 and +2.0, then tally it up. At the end of the day, it’s still a very subjective evaluation but they are the only entity that makes this effort public. Click here to go to Pro Football Focus' site for much more insight, including tons of objective analysis as well.
The star of the night for the Cowboys offense? Seventh round rookie tackle Laurence Gibson. Gibson earned a grade of +1.4 overall, boosted by his +1.3 grade in pass protection. Gibson played third team offense and didn’t give up a single hit, pressure or sack on the quarterback. For Cowboys fans who would rather the club have traded up in the third round to select a running back instead of selecting the now-injured Chaz Green, there’s a bit of irony in Gibson’s solid performance. Gibson tested off the charts athletically and even though it was in the second half of preseason, he showed promise.
Most everything else for the Cowboys offensive line was bad. Doug Free logged six snaps, but was the only other OL with a positive grade. La’El Collins (-0.6 overall) had a decent night, but gave up a sack on a sick twist by the 49ers. Darrion Weems, who received much criticism after his Week 1 performance against San Diego, actually played fairly well outside of that twist where he was pushed backwards. He graded out at -1.5 overall, but the primary culprit was a -1.8 penalty grade for his two accepted calls against him.
The tackles weren’t the only problem, as Dallas struggled to get run blocking until late in the game. Here are the run blocking grades for the OL and TEs:
|Player||PFF Run Blocking Grade|
|TE Brandon Barden||0.7|
|OT Doug Free||0.5|
|OG La'el Collins||0.2|
|OT Laurence Gibson||0|
|OG Ronald Patrick||-0.5|
|TE Gavin Escobar||-0.8|
|OT Darrion Weems||-0.8|
|OT R.J. Dill||-0.8|
|TE Jason Witten||-1|
|OG Mack Bernadeau||-1.4|
|OG John Wetzel||-1.8|
|C Travis Frederick||-2.4|
|TE Geoff Swaim||-3.1|
As for the guys they were protecting, there won’t be too many plays Dustin Vaughan or Jameil Showers put on a highlight reel on Youtube anytime soon. Vaughan threw two picks and it should’ve been three. His locking onto receivers greatly overshadowed the couple of times he showed great poise in the pocket to step into the oncoming rush and deliver strikes down the field. His -3.1 overall grade was the third worst for the offense, behind OT RJ Dill (-4.5) who gave up two sacks and 8 total pressures, and TE Geoff Swaim (-3.2, majority from bad run blocking).
Showers entered the game in the fourth quarter, threw his own interception and missed badly on other throws that could have ended up picked off. Whatever hope the Cowboys had that there was a quarterback of the future, or even a backup of the future, took a big step back Sunday night.
As for the skill position guys, all eyes remain on the running back battle. Darren McFadden got the start but just four carries and did absolutely nothing with them. He showed no elusiveness or cutting on his runs, took what was there and it wasn’t much as the 49er defense was humming. He graded out with a -0.6.
Joseph Randle took 20 snaps to earn his -1.5 overall grade, but that was primarily due to his holding penalty on pass protection. Gus Johnson played 9 snaps despite his shoulder injury, earning a +0.4 cumulative score, while Mike Hill’s nice night was canceled out by allowing a sack in pass protection, leaving him at -1.4 grade for the evening.
At tight end, Gavin Escobar’s third down drop killed his score, as well as lackluster run blocking. He checked in at -1.1. Little discussed Brandon Barden earned a +0.6 on 17 snaps, mostly due to his run blocking.
Finally, the wideouts rarely received an opportunity to show their worth. The team had an abysmal 5 Yards per attempt on 34 throws.
|TOTALS||34||18||170||40.1||1 TD 3 INT|
All in all, it was an abysmal performance by the Cowboys with the obvious caveat of who didn’t play or who played very little. The true dress rehearsal is coming on Saturday against the Vikings and Garrett, Scott Linehan and friends will be looking for evidence of regular season readiness.