Dallas Cowboys: NFC Pro Bowl analysis 2011

Cowboys preview: Make-or-break stretch

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
The end of the season has not been kind to the Dallas Cowboys in recent years. It's not been just a Jason Garrett problem, but the Cowboys lost three of their last four in 2013, their final two in 2012 and four of their last five in 2011 to finish 8-8 all three years. This year's late-season schedule is difficult -- five of the last seven away from home -- but the pivotal stretch will be early in the year to make sure the end of the year is relevant. Six of the Cowboys' first nine games are at AT&T Stadium, which has not provided the greatest of home-field advantages since opening. The Cowboys have a three-game homestand from Oct. 19-Nov. 2 against three NFC teams that they almost have to sweep to stay in contention in the division or help in the wild-card standings.

Complete Cowboys season preview.

NFC East Pro Bowl analysis

December, 28, 2011
NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: You can argue whether he's even the best quarterback in his division (as you'll see below), but the New York Giants' Eli Manning is having a season worthy of a Pro Bowl spot. He is third in the conference in passing yards and has engineered five fourth-quarter comeback wins for a team that has won only seven games. Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy might have been the best running back in the league this season, and there's little doubt that his left tackle, Jason Peters, has been the best in the league at his position. People often make the argument for Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware as the best defensive player in the league, so it's little surprise that he snagged an outside linebacker spot. And a fine recovery for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, a worthy pick who made it in spite of not being listed on the fan ballot.

Made it on rep: Eagles defensive end Jason Babin is red-hot and among the league leaders with 18 sacks, but I argue that he's not the best defensive end on his own team, as Trent Cole is the more complete player and Babin likely benefits from the extra attention Cole receives. Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff has flashes of brilliance, but this isn't his most dominant season.

Got robbed: The biggest debate we ever have on the NFC East blog is over Manning and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. This season, Romo has the third-best passer rating in the NFC, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Manning is sixth in that category. Romo also has the third-highest completion percentage in the conference. Manning has the eighth highest. Romo has three more touchdown passes and seven fewer interceptions, and, among important categories, trails Manning only in yards. Those who argue Romo in the Romo-Manning debates have reason to be upset. The Washington Redskins have no Pro Bowlers. If they were to have one, a case could be made for inside linebacker London Fletcher, who leads the league in tackles with 163, or rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who has 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Eagles left guard Evan Mathis has been among the best at his position all season. And of course there is Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who ranks seventh in the conference in catches with 76 and second in the conference in receiving yards with 1,358. Cruz's case was hurt by his not being listed on the fan ballot.

Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.

DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff earn Pro Bowl

December, 27, 2011
IRVING, Texas -- For the first time since 2002, the Cowboys will not be well represented at the Pro Bowl with only DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff being named to the NFC all-star team.

In 2002, only defensive tackle La’Roi Glover was named to the team. Since 2003 the Cowboys have had at least four players named or added to the Pro Bowl, including a record 13 in 2007.

Ware and Ratliff were named as starters.

"It’s a great honor to be selected to play in the Pro Bowl," Ware said in a release. "It shows that all the work through the offseason and season pays off. It’s special because you are selected by the fans, your peers and coaches around the league. I am excited to represent the Dallas Cowboys and the entire NFL in the game. Since my rookie season, I always strived on working hard, being consistent and playing at a high level, and it really means something on a personal level to be rewarded.”

For Ware, this is his sixth straight trip to the Pro Bowl. He is tied for second in the league with 18 sacks, trailing Minnesota’s Jared Allen, who has 18.5 sacks. With two sacks in Sunday’s season finale against the New York Giants, Ware would become the first player in league history with two 20-sack seasons. He had 20 sacks in 2008.

If he outdistances Allen and Philadelphia’s Jason Babin, then Ware would lead the league in sacks for the third time in his career.

Ratliff will make his fourth straight Pro Bowl appearance. His two sacks are a low for when he has played a full season, but he has six tackles for loss, 12 quarterback pressures and four deflections to go with 37 tackles, according to the coaches’ breakdown.

Ware (stinger) and Ratliff (rib muscle strain) have played the last few games with injuries, but will play Sunday against the Giants.

Jason Witten’s Pro Bowl streak came to an end at seven, although he could be added as an alternate. New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez were named as the NFC’s tight ends.

The Cowboys do not reveal who has been named as alternates, but other candidates could include Witten, quarterback Tony Romo, right tackle Tyron Smith, inside linebacker Sean Lee and kicker Dan Bailey.