DAL-WAS Grades: Barry Church and Sean Lee dominant in win
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cowboys’ 19-16 victory over the Redskins:
– After enduring the worst game of his pro career to date against Ndamukong Suh in Miami two weeks ago, Zack Martin has got back on track in the last two games and turned in one of his best performances of the season last night (+4.6). Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith (+3.0) put in strong efforts up front, but the backs added little to the line’s blocking (1.65 yards per carry after contact, one missed tackle forced on 20 attempts) and the rest of the linemen weren’t as consistent, which prevented Martin’s efforts from having a bigger impact in Dallas’ conservative offense.
– On defense, the combination of Sean Lee (+4.8) and Barry Church (+3.6) proved menacing for the Washington ground attack, with the Cowboys’ free-roaming duo combining to rack up 14 defensive stops with only one missed tackle by Church. Both earned positive grades in coverage, as well, with Lee breaking up one of the two targets into his coverage, with neither of them being completed.
– The Cowboys finally have a win with a starting quarterback other than Tony Romo in 2015, and Matt Cassel (+0.4) fulfilled the role of starter well in this game. Managing to limit his mistakes to misses rather than misreads and forced passes, Cassel did enough on his deep and intermediate passes (6/10, 146 yards) to ensure that the Washington defense couldn’t collapse on his sometimes erratic short passing.
LB Sean Lee (+4.8)
RG Zack Martin (+4.6)
S Barry Church (+3.6)
LT Tyron Smith (+3.0)
DE DeMarcus Lawrence (+2.0)
– This game saw two of the top offensive tackles in the NFL square off, and while both showed why they are in that top bracket, it was Trent Williams (+6.0) who earned the higher grade of the two players. Washington’s numbers on the ground may not impress, but Williams routinely made strong blocks throughout the game, both in line against defensive linemen and working to the second level to neutralize linebackers. After this game, Williams sits as our fifth-ranked offensive tackle, both in terms of overall grade and as a run blocker.
– Making his first start since signing with Washington back in September, Mason Foster earned his highest single-game grade (+1.6) since Week 10 of 2013. Foster provided an upgrade over the standard performance of Washington’s inside linebackers this season, with a notable lack of missed tackles and busted coverages. While not the most productive of displays (two stops, one hurry) this was only the ninth time in 24 starts that a Washington linebacker has earned a positive grade this season.
– The Washington passing game was caught in the low tempo of this contest for much of the night, with the only real spark coming on DeSean Jackson’s (+1.9) redemptive game-tying touchdown in the final two minutes of the game. Aside from that one pass, Kirk Cousins (-0.8) went 0-for-3 on his other deep passes and was erratic with his short passing, as six passes hit the deck, and a conservative approach saw Washington squander a chance to seize some measure of control of the NFC East.
LT Trent Williams (+6.0)
RT Morgan Moses (+2.1)
WR DeSean Jackson (+1.9)
RG Brandon Scherff (+1.7)
LB Mason Foster (+1.6)