Sullivan: Martin Dominance, Unsung Mincey Among Thoughts

The author of *America's Team: The Official History of the Dallas Cowboys, Sullivan also writes a new column in each issue of Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. For subscription information, please click here.*

  • Watched the Giants game a second time, on the coaches' film, and was transfixed with the dominating performance of rookie guard Zack Martin. It's going to be a travesty if they end up doing what they always do and vote for a skill-position player (Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, maybe Derek Carr) for Rookie of the Year. Martin is hands down the best rookie in the NFL this season. Not even close.
  • Through seven games, Martin has not allowed a sack. He's been flagged for a single penalty and allowed just four hurries. That's over 495 snaps. One could make the case that he's been the best right guard in the league. The numbers support that. Martin should definitely be a Pro Bowl selection at this point.
  • Now, it's unfair to compare a guard to a tackle. The tackles are facing the better pass rushers most of the time. I get that. Still, at this point and time, Martin has been the best lineman for the Cowboys this season. Would actually say Travis Frederick has been second. Tyron Smith has been sporadic, playing at his All-Pro level of a season ago at times, and having issues in other games. These last two haven't been his best.
  • No one was overly excited about the Jeremy Mincey signing. He was just another guy. And his numbers don't look impressive, 12 tackles and zero sacks. However, he has 19 QB hurries, easily tops on the team, and has been disruptive each and every week. Has also played 308 snaps, which is third on the defense behind just Brandon Carr and J.J. Wilcox. Mincey has been one of the unsung heroes of this unit's stunning performance.
  • Just imagine, back at camp, saying this defense would be tied for ninth in scoring average allowed (21.0) through seven games. Or that the Cowboys would be giving up fewer points per game than the Seattle Seahawks (23.5). What were those odds? Like 100-to-1, if not higher.
  • Here's the No. 1 sign of this team's surprising success this season: We have barely heard about the fantastic play of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff. The trio has a combined 13.5 sacks, and Hatcher has been arguably the second-best 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, maybe third behind J.J. Watt and Sheldon Richardson. And Ware could lead the league in sacks if he stays healthy. Still think the Cowboys made the correct decisions in each instance.
  • The week after playing the Cowboys, teams are 1-5. That's not a coincidence. This is a physical defense, and there are three, four players around the ball on the majority of the tackles. This is the team head coach Jason Garrett envisioned; the kind of defense like Dallas had in the early-1990s. No stars, just young, hungry players who enjoy hitting.
  • Have been telling people about Gavin Escobar for two years now, and kept waiting for the results, and finally, two touchdown catches, three in the last two weeks. Played a career-high 26 snaps, too, against the Giants. No reason he can't finish with eight or nine touchdowns. Has arguably the best hands on the team, just needed to improve the footwork, the pass routes, gain some muscle, learn to block. The list is lengthy, but he's among the more improved players on the Cowboys. Going to help this team a whole bunch this year and going forward.[embeddedad0]
  • My other breakout player this season, beside Escobar, was Tyrone Crawford. And he could be headed to the Pro Bowl, seemingly improves each game. He was dominant against the Giants. About to become a star.
  • These last six games, Tony Romo is completing 71 percent of his passes for 1,508 yards, 13 touchdowns and just three picks. His passer rating is 113.9. The mobility has been just fine the last month, too. And it's not an end-all statistic by any means, but his career passer rating of 96.3 is fifth on the career list, ahead of Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Joe Montana. Think fans are starting to fully appreciate him.
  • The 1960 Dallas Cowboys rushed for 1,049 yards. DeMarco Murray could pass them by himself with 137 yards on Monday. At the midway point of the season. Do I see him rushing for 2,000? No, but I do think he breaks Emmitt Smith's single-season team record of 1,773.

Follow Jeff Sullivan on Twitter, *@SullyBaldHead, or email him at jsullivan@dallascowboys.net.*

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