The Top 99 Farce, 4 'Boys Rank ✭
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The Top 99 Farce, 4 ‘Boys Rank

Dallas Cowboys

The Top 99 Farce, 4 ‘Boys Rank

Dallas Cowboys Football; was there ever a better hobby or pastime? Not for me, aside from family of course, and as we near the midway point in June, and these OTAs wrap up before the minicamp starts, I’ve still got a ways to go before my next Cowboys football fix.

It’s nothing to fret over though, not when we have such brilliant “expert” analysis and coverage as we do from the likes of Fox no less. More specifically, let’s talk about Peter Schrager and his list of the “Top 99 players for ’09” – moreover his brown nose special, as I call it.

I’m betting that most of you have heard of it already from the DMN where we learned that only four Cowboys made the list at all. I know many commenters over there were hung up more on where each of those four players were ranked, but there is something to be said for those that didn’t rank at all.

I mean you’ve got Jay “The Rat” Ratliff first and foremost who wasn’t selected to the list. I guess it’s a fair assumption to say that these types of lists usually are directed more at the offensive guys since it’s offense that’s counted on to score touchdowns, but it’s defense that wins games. There are always exceptions to that rule, such as last year in the first match up between the Cowboys and Eagles with a total score of 78 points during that game. But rarely does a pro football game turn out to be a homerun derby anymore.

But let’s take a guy like Albert Haynesworth and put him up against Ratliff for a moment here, and I’m only talking about 2008 regular season stats here. Haynesworth got a top rating of 14 while Ratliff didn’t even make the list. Both are defensive tackles, both have several years of experience. We could go into the vitals here, but size doesn’t always matter if there is solid production, and both guys obviously perform each week.

  • Haynesworth hasn’t played more than 14 games in a season since 2002 while Ratliff hasn’t played less than 15 games in a season since his rookie year.
  • Haynesworth had 51 total tackles in 2008; Ratliff also had 51 total tackles.
  • Haynesworth registered 8.5 sacks to Ratliff’s 7.5 sacks.
  • Ratliff’s sacks netted him 56.5 negative yards while Haynesworth only managed 52.5 with an extra sack.
  • The only real benefit I see that Haynesworth has over Ratliff is having forced 3 fumbles to Ratliff’s zero, no forced fumbles.
  • Ratliff deflected 5 passes and Haynesworth deflected 2 passes.
  • They both recovered 1 fumble each.

I look at the numbers, the actual production of each man, and to me it seems more than just a little one-sided for Haynesworth to make any top X list when Ratliff doesn’t. It’s not a bias on my part, it’s just simple math. You have one guy that is great against the run and in getting pressure, and another guy who good against the run, great at getting pressure, and even gets into the passing game.

It’s only worse for picking Haynesworth since his numbers are significantly higher from last year than in years prior. It was a contract year, and as we all know, he has his $100 million dollars now. Ratliff has been playing like he has and hasn’t faced a contract situation yet. Anyone else really interested to see what he does in a contract year?

But the farce goes on though. DeMarcus Ware headlined the Cowboys’ effort on this list making it in at 6, with Tony Romo following behind him in a distant second at 28’th place. Now Ware, well no one for any team would argue that he deserves at least that high of a ranking. Not only are his numbers great, his attitude positive, and his ability tremendous – but his character is high as well. Being the overall sack leader since being drafted helps too.

Romo is another story. It’s a positive of this list in my mind because while there are a lot of bad things to be said for Romo from last season, there are many good things as well. I actually would have expected a much lower rating given the abundant criticism of him lately. He’s a quarterback though, so he would rank higher overall even though he only ranked 9th among quarterbacks. Putting him behind McNabb and Carson Palmer though? Seriously?

I know the guy seems to tank in the final stretch, but surely he’s worth a better ranking than Carson Palmer.

Marion Barber and Jason Witten also made the list, and that’s where my next point starts – Jason Witten ranked 96th of 99 by this fruitcake of a journalist/expert/assclown as one commenter stated it.

He was the third tight end to appear on the list behind Antonia Gates and Tony Gonzales. I’ll agree that Gonzales is good, and has been good for many years, but to say that Witten in his early age isn’t as good as the old fogy Gonzales just isn’t practical.

So yet again this year we are seeing how the rest of the NFL nation is rooting against the Cowboys in 2009, and that’s a great thing to see and hear. This time last season the Cowboys were being hyped as the Super Bowl winners, a mightily premature assumption to say the least.

But this year, while we have been favored at one point to win the Super Bowl in certain betting circles, once Owens was cut, the outlook went downhill. Our draft was rated like a D I think by the experts; the experts say we have huge problems facing us in our passing game and call it for both the QB and WR positions.

Yet all the while Roy Williams is still a top caliber receiver who had a bad year. Tony Romo had the same – a bad year that featured a finger injury that sidelined him for three weeks, and limited him for another three after that. He also had the task of dealing with Owens and his unwarranted and loud requests for more touches.

I think Owens, a 13 year veteran at the time, should be quite well aware of how it works in the NFL – if you produce at a high level, then you get more opportunity to produce, and if you continue to produce with the extra opportunities, then you keep getting them.

He just never seemed to understand that past success does not warrant current and future security. He started dropping balls, he started bailing on routes too early, he did get older and therefore slower, and he did forget to adjust his own way of thinking to fit his age and the new limitations that came with it.

Do I think a team can win games with Owens running routes? I sure do – do I think it can happen on any team currently in the NFL? I really don’t. He simply fails to account for the other 10 guys on the field with him at any given point, and that is why he became expendable for unproven and in some cases rarely tested youth in Dallas. He simply overstayed his welcome, and his vocal complaints and inability to really be a team player are to blame.

So in 2009 Romo gets to actually follow the rules of being a top quarterback again. He can go through his reads, he can release quickly, and he can find the open man – whether it is Witten, Barber, Jones, Williams, Crayton, Austin, or Bennett – he can return to being a quarterback again, instead of simply a TO placeholder.

Maybe Williams won’t be as good as Owens was in 2007, it won’t be because he isn’t producing, but rather because other guys will be producing too. There are only so many balls in a game.

But hey it’s June; we are silly and desperate fans who have no clue what’s what, right? We need to be spoon fed just enough crap to sell the papers and attract visitors. I got to admit that it’s a good theory, write enough bad crap and people will go there simply to see if the rumors are true – someone really is that moronic.

Bryson Treece

Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter – @InsideTheStarDC

2 Comments
  • Jonathan

    Good Post.

    I just have something to add to your Ratliff vs. Haynesworth comparison: Ratliff is a 3-4 NT, while Haynesworth is a 4-3 DT. So, aside from being safe to assume that Ratliff delt with more double-teams, by design, Ratliff was granted fewer opportunities to make plays. As a 3-4 lineman, your primary responsibility is to hold your lane and be a blocker eater so that the LB’s can make plays in the gaps left between and on the outside of each defensive lineman. Therefore, the stats Ratliff did put up were the result of plays were he was actually able to get a good jump on the snap, penetrate the OL, and make a play on the ball. Otherwise, he did his primary job.

    Conversely, Haynesworth’s primary job as a 4-3 DT is to always make plays on the ball. Consider that for a moment: Ratliff made almost as many plays as Haynesworth did in a far more difficult position, given far more difficult conditions with the posibility of double team coming from either guard and center, at a size 2 inches less and 18 pounds lighter than Haynesworth.

    That’s the trouble with these so-called experts. When considering these list, they look at stats and overall contracts, and never stop to consider the differences in the actual players and, more importantly, what these players are being asked to do in their given positions.

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