When the Dallas Cowboys first signed DE Jeremy Mincey last offseason, his announcement was met with a resounding “ehhhhh”. The hardly-known veteran faced the difficult task of replacing a legend (DeMarcus Ware), and his role-player resume did little to fill the void in Cowboy Nation hearts.
For those who paid attention, Mincey was not only a good pick-up, but proved to be a reliable presence at a very thin position. Before we get to his pure performance, let’s dive into his very hard-to-fill position: RDE.
Once occupied solely by DeMarcus Ware, the RDE spot is a position reserved for the best pure pass-rusher on the team. Lining up against the opposition’s LT, the RDE typically attacks from the quarterback’s blindside (since most QBs are right-handed). This is a pivotal position providing big plays with a higher potential for turnovers (again – blindside).
Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 defense often relies heavily on an edge rush from the RDE. As an aid to the pass-rush, the RDE is frequently tasked with only 1-gap responsibility. The simplicity of the assignment lets the RDE focus rushing the passer above all else.
Grading Jeremy Mincey in 2014
Breaking down film and grading each play is something that sounds easier in theory than it is in reality. It’s not always obvious what a particular player’s assignment is on every single play. He may have 1-gap responsibility on one play but 2-gap on another. Just because he’s the closest defender to the play, doesn’t mean it was his primary responsibility. Recognizing this obstacle (unknown assignments) is very important in player grading and something I try to be sure of before casting blame or praise.
In my film reviews this year I watched and re-watched in order to ascertain assignments and execution. Every game except for the Thanksgiving Day Anilation by the Eagles was reviewed and graded (I couldn’t bring myself to review that game ,and no one can make me). I used a -3 to a +3 scale for game grades and averaged those scores for final 2014 Player Grades.
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(subscription required) is another resource that breaks down film and grades plays. If they are unsure on a particular assignment on a given play, they simply do not grade it. For final end-of-year scores, PFF adds it all up. As a result, there numbers are much higher than my averages, and are largely uncapped play to play. Because of this, I’ll try to apply some context to their grades (relative to the team and the players around the league).
When player evaluation is based on each play and not a post-game stat sheet, this process is very important, or one may misrepresent a player’s performance. With all of that said…
Jeremy Mincey didn’t collect a fancy stat line, nor did he create a ton of traditional splash plays. But despite only 6 sacks he was able to be a consistent force at the RDE for the Dallas Cowboys, collecting 37 QB hurries. Hurrying QBs results in poor decisions and often turnovers. His 37 were good enough for 9th in the league.
Mincey had an even better postseason. Most importantly, Mincey picked up his performance as the season progressed. According to Pro Football Focus, Mincey doubled his “Pass Rush Productivity score in the postseason and was one of the highest graded pass-rushers of the postseason. Never underestimate a player’s ability to rise up in critical situations. Mincey did that.
Overall I graded Jeremy Mincey with a grade of +1.5. I thought about adding double-weight to my scoring for playoff games but decided against it for purposes of clarity. PFF gave him a EOY score of 7.4 which would rank him as the 16th 4-3 DE in the NFL. 16th may not sound great but it places him above notable players like: Jared Allen (19), DeMarcus Ware (20), and Cameran Jordan (29).
Note: While Ware did collect 11 sacks, 8 were collected by Week 7, resulting in low scores throughout the latter part of the season.
Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey (92) motions to get the crowd loader against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Mincey’s X-Factor
The Dallas Cowboys essencially entered the 2014 season with zero depth at RDE. Anthony Spencer and George Selvie both fit best on the left side of the line, and only rookie DeMarcus Lawrence projected to be a prototypical RDE. D-Laws injury kept him from contributing much in 2014, pushing Mincey into a heavy workload at an all-important position.
Mincey’s 724 snaps were more than any other member of the Cowboys’ front seven. Even with the heavy workload, Mincey rarely took plays off, and was able to maintain his health all season – in fact peaking at the end when games meant the most.
Jeremy Mincey Conclusion
Signed for 2yrs/ $3M last offseason, Jeremy Mincey more than proved his worth. In fact, the former 6th round pick of the 2006 draft deserves recognition as one of the four finalists for my Dallas Cowboys’ Defensive MVP Award. He may not be a traditional star player, but for those of us who look at more than just stat sheets, he’s a player that deserves to be recognized.
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