Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Player Profile: Bradie James

Bradie James
Position: Inside Linebacker
Size: 6'2, 245
Age: 30, 1/17/81
College: LSU
Drafted: Round 4, #103 - 2003
Experience: 8 Seasons

Salary History and Contract Status : On September 19, 2006, Bradie James signed a 5-year, $20 million deal that would take him through 2011. In 2011, he will make $3.5m and in 2012 he is scheduled to be a free agent.

2003 Draft Profile From OurLads: (12th ranked LB) Bradie James - LSU - 6'2 - 242 - 4.76. Three year starter at middle linebacker. Could project outside. Sturdy. Has fairly long arms and good strength. Physical player. Tough competitor. Not a quick reactor to the inside running game. Takes some false steps. A little stiff--has some trouble with low blocks at him. Does a good job of using his hands against high blocks but he plays a bit upright and can get tied up. Active in pursuit. Has a burst. Plays through traffic well on the move. Is a hard, secure tackler--wraps well. More fast than agile--has ordinary change-of-direction. Capable blitzer. Does a decent job in man coverage against backs and tight ends. Takes good drops in a zone but doesn't react well. Should be a factor on special teams.

Pre-2010:After being the 15th Linebacker chosen in the 2003 Draft, the Cowboys have been absolutely delighted with what they have found in the 4th Round. At the time, the Cowboys were in a 4-3 Defense, and James was stuck behind veterans and playing his role on special teams. But, to start the 2005 season, the Cowboys switched to the 3-4 defense, and since that change, Bradie James has started as the inside-strong middle LB position (the Cowboys call James the "Mic" and Brooking the "Mo") all 96 games the last 6 years. He is known for many positive attributes - leadership, effort, and performance. James is not the best middle linebacker in the game, but when it comes to solid dependability, the Cowboys have been very pleased to have him on their side. There are some definite weaknesses in his skill set (as just about everyone has and as Detroit QB Jon Kitna pointed out in 2006) and in James' case it is usually based on covering players out of the backfield. In run support, he does not have the benefit of huge DTs keeping him clean so he can just make a tackle. He is constantly asked to take on plays at the point of attack and holds up pretty well against OL blockers. Again, not a star, but when you look at the Cowboys defense - I always get the impression that James is usually not the issue.

2010:According to our friends at, James was the best Cowboys defender in 2010 against the run. There were times when you could see he was caught up in the wash, but for the most part, he is still able to keep the Cowboys stout against the run. His pass rush success has completely vanished from his 2008 when he had a very uncommon 8 sacks from the middle LB position. The Cowboys had almost no success with blitzes in 2010, and yet they repeatedly asked James and Brooking to get there on delayed middle blitzes over and over. Without any modicum of success, it appears the defense was far too vanilla in blitzing scenarios. In pass coverage, he was about neutral. Asked to cover about 460 times this year, it does appear the Cowboys have schemed around James' ability and no longer ask him to try to stick with Reggie Bush-types in space. His 2010 was altogether pretty solid, but their game grades indicate that he had a dip during that dark period of the year when the defense seemed to not give everything they had. From the time of Romo's injury to the time of Wade's firing, many of us wondered why the defense looked so lifeless. As a leader and captain of the defense, James must be accountable for the overall performance of the squad and for the appearance of the defense not playing as hard as they should. They always spoke about their love for Wade Phillips, but in the end, it seemed the defense's performance against the Giants, Jaguars, and Packers were the final straw for Jerry Jones to change coaches. Then, under Garrett, the defense snapped back to playing hard and strong most of the way.

2011 Analysis: Having just turned 30, Bradie will have his work judged on a year by year basis to see if all of those hundreds of tackles are beginning to diminish his skills. So far, the Cowboys seem to have many other spots on the defense that need upgrading before I worry about Bradie. As usual, he is solid and dependable - something you need from this position on the defense. He is also a man who the room looks to and respects. I would like to think that Rob Ryan and the new defensive philosophy will be looking to put him in the middle of a chaotic scheme and direct traffic and inspire the troops as you would want from a veteran like James. A free agent at the end of the season, this is a vital year for #56 to prove that he is worthy of another extension. I would not be surprised to see the Cowboys try to get something do with him for another 2 or 3 years in training camp.

Previous Profiles:
Doug Free
Marc Colombo
Sam Young
Alex Barron
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Brandon Williams
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

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