Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) breaks a tackle of Dallas Cowboys free safety Barry Church (42) and defensive back Jeff Heath (38) and runs for a touchdown in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Sport DFW Editor: Explaining Player Scores and Analysis

At Sport DFW I am always trying report player performance based on facts rather than just feelings. Being a Cowboys fan myself, it’s easy to get caught up in perception. We are all guilty of providing a pass to our favorite players, while being unjustly critical of our less-than-favorites. For this reason I work hard to find ways to report objective facts along with subjective player analysis.

Simply saying, Jeff Heath is a bum because he couldn’t cover a corpse – isn’t a very helpful analysis on its own merit. Although it’s still probably true… Pro Football Focus is a tool I use daily to provide fact-based analysis (subscription required). Think of it as a gatherer of statistical information rather than a scouting source. Players at every position are graded on their performance and given scores. For a full description from Pro Football Focus go here. Judgment and subjectivity are still used to calculate PFF scores. Says PFF,

We examine not just the statistical result of the play, but the context of the statistic. The DT may have made a tackle on a play, but if it was 3rd and 5, and he got blown 4 yards off the ball to make the tackle after a 6 yard gain, that’s not a good play.

With a resource like this we can combine statistical facts and analysis with our own observations and analysis to report the best kind of feedback. Everyone will not always agree but that’s really what makes it all so interesting. Different people will notice different things.

Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) reach for the ball in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I make it point to always consider the investment made in each player in order to determine what expectations really are. For instance, Orlando Scandrick is paid roughly $5M annually and ranked as the 38th best CB in the NFL last season. That’s not a particularly great ranking but it’s perfectly acceptable for a 27 year old nickleback on the NFL’s worst defense, considering what he’s being paid.

Brandon Carr on the other hand ranked 58th in the league (meaning most teams had 2 CBs better than our #1 CB) and is being paid like a top 10 CB. The investment in Carr is huge, therefore the criticism is great.

Demarcus Lawrence will also face hefty expectations. He’s not being paid big money but his investment was a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick. Those two picks equal lofty expectations.

Over the next few weeks I will be providing Player Profiles and expectations across the Cowboys roster. In it I will provide a mix of objective and subjective analysis all while considering expectations based on team investment (pay or draft status). Stay tuned.

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