NYJ-DAL grades: Cowboys’ QB play a disaster in loss

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Jets' win over the Cowboys Saturday night.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

NYJ-DAL grades: Cowboys’ QB play a disaster in loss

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Jets’ 19-16 victory over the Cowboys:

Dallas Cowboys

–The Cowboys’ limitations at the quarterback position behind Tony Romo were laid out for all to see Saturday night, as both Matt Cassel (-2.8) and Kellen Moore (-4.4) turned in performances and noteworthy plays to regret. Cassel started but was hooked after impressively managing to be flagged for intentional grounding on a play on which he was intercepted, before surrendering 19 yards on a sack, as Calvin Pace spotted the roll-out early on. In his place, Moore threw a pair of poor interceptions over the middle of the field and redeeming moments were fleeting for him. The lack of a viable backup behind Romo has destroyed the Cowboys this season, and regardless of Romo’s long-term future, the Cowboys should be heavily involved in the quarterback market this spring.

–As harrowing as Saturday night was for the Cowboys at quarterback, it served was a positive statement regarding the quality of their defensive end rotation. Starters DeMarcus Lawrence (+5.7) and Greg Hardy (+4.2) turned in spectacular games against the run while adding four pressures apiece in the passing game. Meanwhile, off the bench, second-round pick Randy Gregory (+1.5) racked up a season-high five pressures (two hits, three hurries) playing in more than 40 percent of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps for the second week in a row, having not done so up to that point. With Lawrence and Gregory in town, regardless of Hardy’s long-term future, things are looking bright on the defensive line for the Cowboys.

–After a down week in Green Bay last week (-3.2), linebacker Sean Lee was back to some of his best form of the season last night (+2.2) in another active display that saw him rack up five stops to take his season total to 50. At its best this defense revolves around funneling ball-carriers to Lee and Barry Church, but while the Jets were able to manage Church’s impact on the game (-2.2), Lee was able to find the ball-carrier consistently. Only Lawrence (six stops) topped Lee’s total for the game.

Top performers:

DE DeMarcus Lawrence (+5.7)

DE Greg Hardy (+4.2)

RT Doug Free (+3.5)

CB Terrance Mitchell (+2.6)

LB Sean Lee (+1.7)


New York Jets

–Last night’s game offered us a titanic battle between one of the league’s best centers (Travis Frederick, -1.2) and one of the league’s best nose tackles (Damon Harrison, +3.2); and in this instance the defender came out on top. Harrison led the Jets defense last night with five stops as he continued his resurgent form in the second half of the season, earning an overall grade of +1.5 grade or better for the seventh straight game. Since Week 9 no interior defender has a higher run-defense grade than Harrison (+23.2).

–One ugly interception aside, this was another solid display from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has rebounded in the last month after a string of poor performances against Jacksonville, Buffalo and Houston. Pressured on 15 of his 43 dropbacks Saturday night, Fitzpatrick was able to pick up big plays regardless, completing seven of his 12 pass attempts under pressure for 140 yards, most notably the 43-yard completion down the right sideline to Kenbrell Thompkins to set up Randy Bullock’s game-winning field goal.

–A rough season for tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson (-4.0) continued last night, as he earned negative grades as both a run blocker and in pass protection. Ferguson hasn’t been at his best since 2012, but he has fallen away from solid to subpar this season, only earning a positive grade in three of his 14 games so far in 2015. Ferguson surrendered six pressures last night (one hit, five hurries), the fifth time he has surrendered five or more pressures this season; Ferguson only reached that mark six times in the last two seasons combined.

Top performers:

NT Damon Harrison (+3.2)

S Marcus Gilchrist (+1.8)

LG James Carpenter (+1.4)

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (+1.4)

RG Brian Winters (+1.1)

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • James w.

    Off Topic and not trying to get flamed but is it possible for a player of Harrisons size to play DT in a 4-3? (6’4″ 350 lb.) I’m just curious because I’m now just learning what size players play certain positions.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Off Topic but I really love that line in the movie Scent Of A Woman where Al Pacino says “If I were the man I was five years ago I’d take a flamethrower to this place”.

      • James w.

        Kill yourself. Thanks for nothing you bitch

        • Kason Edell

          calm down

    • anon76returns

      Size is important but is not an absolute determinant. See Terrance Knighton in the (sort of) 4-3 scheme that Denver used in 2013 and 2014.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      4-3 teams still have NTs, they typically don’t play 0-tech like a traditional 3-4 nose would, more of a shade or 1-tech. linval jospeh is prime example of a beastly NT in a 4-3 base this year

  • StataTheLeft

    Where were Winters’ positive plays?

    • Jeff

      For Winters to grade out on a net positive after like 3 awful penalties, and some other shoddy blocking is remarkable!

      • McGeorge

        Didn’t you see the play where Fitzpatrick fumbled the ball in the end zone, and Winters picket it up, and with all 11 Cowboys holding on to him, he calmly walked 100 yards for a TD?

  • crosseyedlemon

    Jon Kitna and Quincy Carter are probably looking pretty good to Jerry Jones about now.

  • John Carpenter

    Clueless. Moore played better in his first NFL game than John Elway, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, and Ken Stabler. Three are in the Hall of Fame and together they wracjked up 10 Super Bowl wins. Don’t believe it? Check out the game stats of each.

    • Tim Edell

      I just saw my neighbor throw his nerf football to his son…. He has better arm strength then Kellen Moore. Dont believe it?? Come on over

  • Teddy Ritz

    Sad to see Brickhouse declining :(

    • Jeff

      He’s reverted back to his rookie form… known as D’Turnstile

  • Anonymous

    Nothing about Dez vs Revis?!

    That was a hyped CB-WR matchup that didn’t turn into a brawl….

    • crosseyedlemon

      Both Dez and Revis are veterans who know the coaches expect them to set an example for the younger guys….thus they played as team leaders are suppose to.

      • Anonymous

        Agree but what I’m saying was I was hoping to get an analysis of the matchup.

  • McGeorge

    How id Winters earn a positive grade, with 3 penalties?
    He’s pretty bad.