Midseason grades: defense/special tms.

Calvin Watkins passes out midseason grades for the defense and special teams.

Updated: November 11, 2009, 3:18 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins |

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys reached the halfway point of their season in sole possession of first place in the NFC East at 6-2.

The last time the Cowboys were below .500 after eight regular-season games was 2004, when they were 3-5.

It's almost impossible to predict where this team will finish, but Dallas' 20-16 victory Sunday night at Philadelphia has given this team a boost.

"It was a chance for us to go in there on the road against a division rival and put it away," inside linebacker Bradie James said. "With it being the midpoint of the season, you really want to know. You want to know as players what you can count on and who you can rely on when the funk hits the fan, and we know we can definitely rely on each other."

With that, it's midseason report card time, and we tell you who among the active game-day roster players is doing well in the first half and who needs improvement.

Here's the defense. To see the grades for the offense, go here.

The following players get an incomplete grade because they haven't played enough if at all:

Montrae Holland, Duke Preston, Pat McQuistan, Stephen McGee, Jason Williams, Curtis Johnson, Allen Rossum, Michael Hamlin, Steve Octavien.

Practice squad players were not graded.

Calvin Watkins joined in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.