Originally Posted by BIGDen
Exactly what I was going to say. I think McCray is a disaster that should not be on an NFL defense. He is Cory Procteresque in that he is such a glaring weakness. His lack of ability compromises the entire unit. If we had Church and even just one of our two ILBs back, I think this team would be able to go pretty far this year. The offense is as healthy as it's been, but the defense is a M.A.S.H. unit that will likely cost us (at least a couple of)these remaining games.
I can understand this perspective, I just happen to look at it a different way. When I do this kind of season review, I try to look not just at how people are playing from one game to the next, but how that performance measures up compared to what they were expected to contribute from the end of training camp.
McCray was expected to serve as the special teams captain and come in on defense in some very specific packages, sometimes playing in the box in place of an interior LB and at times to blitz. That was his role at the end of last year, and what he had been doing in training camp. That role is his strength, in my opinion.
Instead, however, he's been thrown into a starting job because of Church's injury, and is having to do things from a gameplay perspective that he wasn't really expected to do previously. As such, his weaknesses in certain areas of safety play have been exposed and exploited. If that surprises anyone, I'm not quite sure they had realistic expectations anyway.
It also hasn't helped the safeties losing both Lee and Carter in front of them. There is a lot of communication that has to go on up the middle of the defense in order to make sure coverages work, and there's been a lack of that when Connor and Sims have been playing. Connor, in particular, doesn't appear to have the speed or quickness for coverage on a consistent basis, and players getting free behind him are usually going to find the safeties out of position as a result.
That's not to excuse McCray's mistakes, and he has made a number of them. In particular, he has a tendency to take bad angles to the ballcarrier, frequently putting himself out of position to make a solid tackle when he gets there (assuming he gets there at all). The dropoff in that particular area from Church to McCray is more significant than just about any other aspect I've seen on tape.
But overall, considering what he was expected to do, and then what's been dropped on him as the season has gone on, I can't get down on the guy, and I think he will be a solid contributor as a back-up and special teams captain next season. I will be watching, however, for some improvement over the last four games, specifically in the area I mentioned, above. If he doesn't show he can correct that problem, next year will likely be his last in Dallas, special teams captain or not.