Dallas Cowboys’ Offseason Review: DE George Selvie Done in Dallas?


After logging a career year in 2013 (his first with the Cowboys), expectations for George Selvie ballooned. ‘If Selvie collected 6 sacks in Monte Kiffin’s dysfunctional mess, think what he could do under the tutelage of a coach like Rod Marinelli?’ many of us asked.

"Note: All due respect to Monte Kiffin. A coach I’ve studied thoroughly, and whose coaching tree is mind-bogglingly expansive. His defense was just epically poor and failed to make the simplest of adjustments with the Cowboys in 2013."

The now-27 year old from South Florida, came to the Cowboys prior to the 2013 season. Signed on a 2yr/$1.36M contract, Selvie was expected to provide veteran experience as rotational DE on the newly converted 4-3 defense. What the Cowboys received was a winning lottery ticket.

George Selvie History Recap

George Selvie, a former 7th round draft pick, began his career with the St. Louis Rams. His rookie year he played 320 snaps, primarily from the RDE spot, but only collected 2 sacks and 4 QB hurries, ranking as one of the worst RDE in the NFL. After converting to LDE and bouncing around the league for 2 more seasons, Selvie never played more than 250 snaps or collected more than 1 sack in either season.

The Cowboys looked to the economical defensive end as a rotational player who could play both ends in a pinch. What they ended up getting was a LDE who would contribute 762 snaps, 8 sacks, and 32 hurries on a very troubled defense in 2013.

Grading George Selvie in 2014

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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 Annihilation by the Eagles was reviewed and graded (I will never watch that mess again). I used a -3 to a +3 scale for game grades and averaged those scores for final 2014 Player Grades.

Pro Football Focus (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…

Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie (99) celebrates a sack in the first quarter of the game against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the high sack numbers of 2013, Selvie was never seen as much of a pass-rusher. He left too many plays on the field and was often garnered with praise after only completing a “gimmie” sack, that involved botched blocking more than stellar pass-rushing. With growing  expectations in 2014, I found myself extremely disappointed with his first step and subsequent application of pass-rush moves.

It was clear Selvie held up well against the run, and was one of the top run-stopping DE on the Cowboys in 2014. PFF was equally impressed and ranked George Selvie as the NFL’s 14th best run-stopping DE in a 4-3 system.

On my -3 to +3 scale, I gave Selvie a -1.5 score which is considerably lower than fellow DEs, Spencer, Mincey, and Lawrence (whom I will be completing End-of-Season analysis for in the coming days). PFF gave George Selvie a score of -4.1 (his lowest since his rookie campaign where he had a -10.6 score).

George Selvie Conclusion

George Selvie wasn’t a liability by any means. He was strong against the run and seems to take pride in that. He knows who he is, and that’s just not a pass-rusher. Selvie faces free agency again this offseason, and will likely sign on as a rotational player for someone, just probably not the Cowboys. The Cowboys will be looking to upgrade across the defensive line, and re-investing in a 27 year old run-stopping role player, isn’t the way to do that.

Next: Jeremy Mincey 2014 Player Review

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