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Simulations: Cowboys Will Edge Giants in Season Opener

The Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday night to open the 2013 season.

The Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday night to open the 2013 season.

The Cowboys never beat the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. Nevertheless, in the first regular season game at the renamed AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys enter as 3.5-point favorites.

Results of most of the polls show that fans are split about who will win. As for predictions through simulations, most predict the Cowboys will edge the Giants for the first win in Dallas since the season-opener in 2007.

A few of the previews:

Team Rankings

Dallas 25.3, N.Y. Giants 22.4

numberFire

Dallas 24.7, N.Y. Giants 23.9

WhatIfSports

Dallas 26, N.Y. Giants 25

Here is video preview provided by Football Gameplan. It’s worth watching (and predicts a Dallas win):

 

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Dallas Cowboys: Rookie Jersey Numbers

It turns out that the entire 2013 draft class made the 53-man roster for the Cowboys (pending trades, which are not expected).

Not sure if any of these rookies will become the greatest players to wear these numbers, but there is always a chance. Here’s a look.

New #20: B.W. Webb

Greatest #20: Mel Renfro

Webb will not have a starting position without injuries and will have to prove himself on special teams this year. Renfro was a Pro Bowl player as a rookie and remained a Pro Bowl player for the next decade.

New #27: J.J. Wilcox

Greatest #27: Ron Fellows

Wilcox may see some time at safety, which is not a deep position. However, he has a chance to develop into a starter. Fellows spent time as a returner for three seasons before finally earning a starting role in 1984.

New #35: Joseph Randle

Greatest #35: Calvin Hill

Randle will probably see quite a bit of action in 2013, given the injury history of DeMarco Murray. Hill was an All-Pro as a rookie in 1969 and eventually became the Cowboys’ first 1,000-yard rusher.

New #38: Jeff Heath

Greatest #38: Sam Baker

Heath made the squad as an undrafted free agent. He will likely be limited to special teams play. Few notable players have worn #38, evidenced by the selection kicker/punter Sam Baker as the greatest player to wear the number. Roy Williams also wore it in his final (and forgettable) season in Dallas in 2008.

New #57: DeVonte Holloman

Greatest #57: Kevin Burnett

Holloman is a former college safety who made the transition to linebacker. He can become the greatest #57 by outperforming Kevin Burnett, who played only four seasons in Dallas as a backup.

New #70: Travis Frederick

Greatest #70: Rayfield Wright

Frederick will start at center this year and looks like a solid player. He’ll need to accomplish quite a bit to become the greatest #70, though, given that Wright is a Hall-of-Famer.

New #83: Terrance Williams

Greatest #83: Terry Glenn

Williams will see the field as the third receiver this year, and he has quite a bit of potential. He’ll need to perform consistently to outperform Glenn, who gave the Cowboys back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2005 and 2006.

New #89: Gavin Escobar

Greatest #89: Billy Joe Dupree

Escobar is one of four tight ends the Cowboys kept, so he will have limited opportunities to shine in 2013. DuPree did not put up big numbers by modern standards, but he was a force during his time.

Which rookie has the best chance to be the greatest player to wear his jersey number?

View Results

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Houston 24, Dallas 6: 8 Punts, 7 Sacks, and (Finally) the End of Preseason

If Alex Tanney never plays for the Cowboys again, this is what he'll probably remember from Thursday night's game against the Texans.

If Alex Tanney never plays for the Cowboys again, this is what he’ll probably remember from Thursday night’s game against the Texans.

Just my opinion, but watching tonight’s game was worse than watching the Pro Bowl. It was far worse than watching the Hall of Fame Game.

Alex Tanney threw 31 passes but spent much of the game picking himself off the AT&T Stadium carpet. The Texans sacked him 7 times and otherwise harassed him all night.

The leading receiver was Tim Benford (4 rec., 60 yards). J.J. Wilcox had seven tackles on defense.

Other highlights?

No, there weren’t. Goodbye to another preseason.

The Cowboys make their last cuts on Saturday and will start to get ready for their opening game against the New York Giants on September 8.

 

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Dallas 24, Cincinnati 18: Dez Shows Beast Mode

Until the very end of the first quarter of Saturday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals, Dez Bryant had one reception for one yard. He was also the intended receiver on a play where the Bengals were called for pass interference.

Bad seats at the Cowboys' fourth preseason game against the Bengals on Saturday.

Bad seats at the Cowboys’ fourth preseason game against the Bengals on Saturday.

Then came a 12-yard reception on a 2nd-and-9 play, giving Dallas a first down in Cincinnati territory.

Same drive: Romo to Bryant for 15 to the Cincinnati 26,.

Same drive (very next play): Romo to Bryant for 15 to the Cincinnati 11.

Same drive (very next play): Romo to Bryant for 5 yards to the Cincinnati 6.

Same drive (two plays later): Romo to Bryant on a 5-yard touchdown pass.

Bryant finished with 6 receptions for 54 yards, with five of those receptions coming on a total of seven plays. The Bengals did not appear to have any answers.

Tony Romo threw another touchdown to Miles Austin late in the first half to give the Cowboys a 14-7 halftime lead. Romo completed 13 of 18 passes for 137 yards with 2 TDs.

DeMarco Murray fumbled early in the game, and though he recovered his own fumble, Phillip Tanner had most of the carries for the rest of the first half.

Murray returned in the second half with backup QB Kyle Orton, the backup receivers, and the first-team line. He picked up 51 rushing yards and had a nice touchdown reception, juking several Bengal defenders after catching a pass in the flat on a 3rd-and-goal play from the Cincinnati 7.

The Bengals cut the Dallas lead to 21-18 in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys put together a late drive to kill most of the clock. Xavier Brewer picked off a Josh Johnson pass with less than a minute remaining, giving Dallas its second interception and fourth turnover.

The Cowboys finish their preseason against the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

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Most Obscure Player of 1995: Jon Baker

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The Dallas Cowboys spent their time during the 1995 NFL Draft looking for backups. The dreadful draft resulted in the selections of Sherman Williams, Kendell Watkins, Charlie Williams, Alundis Brice, and Dana Howard. Three of the ten players selected never played a down with the team, and only tight end Eric Bjornson ever became a starter. The team had so much talent that there was little room for rookies.

Most Obscure Player of 1995: Kicker Jon Baker.

Most Obscure Player of 1995: Kicker Jon Baker.

One rookie defied the odds, however, to make the final cuts in August.  Kicker Jon Baker impressed the Cowboys with high kickoffs that had average hang times of 4.1 seconds. This was much better than kickoffs by Chris Boniol, who could only manage hang times of 3.8 seconds.

When the Cowboys opened at the Meadowlands on September 4, 1995, the player kicking off was Baker. In three games, he kicked off 16 times with a 64.9 average per kickoff.

Boniol struggled early during the 1995 season, missing a field goal and an extra point against the Vikings in week 3, and some thought the Cowboys might turn to Baker for field goals as well.

That never happened, though. Two days after the Cowboys’ win over the Vikings, Dallas cut Baker to allow Boniol to resume kickoff duties. The theory was that Boniol would find a better rhythm if he kicked off and kicked field goals.

The result? Boniol did not miss another field goal all season (though he did miss an extra point).

Baker did not play again until 1999, when he filled in for the Kansas City Chiefs for a couple of games.

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Arizona 12, Dallas 7: Turnovers X6

In the Hall of Fame Game on August 4, the Cowboys ran the ball 34 times for 170 yards and committed no turnovers.

That’s a distant memory after this afternoon’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals.

Six turnovers.

16 rushing attempts.

44 yards.

Yuck.

Tony Jefferson makes one of the Cardinals' three interceptions against the Cowboys on Saturday.

Tony Jefferson makes one of the Cardinals’ three interceptions against the Cowboys on Saturday.

Granted, three turnovers were interceptions thrown by backup quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Alex Tanney.

Others were fumbles by Dez Bryant, Lance Dunbar, and Dwayne Harris. Those fumbles present more of a concern because all three will likely handle the ball this season.

Bryant otherwise looked like a top-flight receiver once again, catching 4 passes for 74 yards. Dunbar also looked like a good option out of the backfield.

In fact, his fumble came at the end of a 43-yard reception that would have given the Cowboys the ball inside the Arizona 10.

Tony Romo completed 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. However, he missed a wide-open Terrance Williams on what looked like a sure touchdown.

Romo’s immediate replacement, Orton, was awful, completing just 4 of 8 passes for 36 yards with 2 picks.

The Cowboys’ lone touchdown came in the fourth quarter when Tanney hit tight end Gavin Escobar on a five-yard pass.

Tanney also had two chances to lead the team to a game-winning touchdown. The first drive started with 5:07 remaining, but the Cowboys went nowhere. On the last drive, Tanney drove the Cowboys into Arizona territory, but with Dallas needing a touchdown to win, Tanney threw a pass picked off by rookie Tony Jefferson.

The Cowboys host the Cincinnati Bengals on August 24.

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Oakland 19, Dallas 17: Late Turnover Hurts Cowboys

The Cowboys took a 17-16 lead over the Oakland Raiders early in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ second preseason game on Friday evening. The defense then did its job, forcing a three-and-out after the Raiders returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards.

However, rookie B.W. Webb could not handle the punt and fumbled, giving the ball back to the Raiders. Oakland’s Eddy Carmona kicked a 23-yard field goal that turned out to be the game-winner, as Oakland beat the Cowboys 19-17.

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The fumble was one of several mistakes made by the backups in the second half. Both of the Cowboys’ turnovers happened in the second half, and both let to points. The first mistake was Nick Stevens’ interception on the Cowboys’ opening drive of the second half. The pick led to a Raider field goal.

The loss ruined Tony Romo’s preseason debut. He completed  6 of 8 passes for 88 yards. Kyle Orton was also sharp, completing all 6  of his attempts for 52 yards and a nice touchdown throw to Cole Beasley.

The starting defense looked very good.  Sean Lee forced a Matt Flynn fumble on Oakland’s opening drive of the game. However, the Cowboys stalled on the resulting drive, as the team went backwards and had to settle for a field goal.

Romo also directed a good drive late in the first quarter, finding Dez Bryant on gains of 26 and 15 yards. However, the drive stalled, and Oakland blocked Dan Bailey’s field-goal attempt.

The defense had a difficult time stopping the Raiders’ offense when Terrelle Pryor entered the game. The Dallas back-ups did not appear ready to stop the read-option.

On the other hand, rookie J.J. Wilcox was able to end a long Raider drive when he picked off Pryor in the end zone. The Cowboys turned around and drove 80 yards for a touchdown to take a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. Dallas led 10-6 at the half.

The Cowboys travel to Arizona on Saturday, August 17 to face the Cardinals.

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Most Obscure Player of 1994: Darren Studstill

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The winner of the Most Obscure Player Award for 1994 is defensive back Darren Studstill. He was a sixth-round draft choice for the Cowboys in 1994 and was active in four games.

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The Cowboys had won back-to-back Super Bowls by 1994 but had just parted ways with Jimmy Johnson. The team was going to need some young players after losing starters to free agency.

The draft will be known as the one that produced Hall of Famer Larry Allen. Others will remember the less impressive Shante Carver and George Hegamin.

Three players—Willie Jackson, DeWayne Dotson, and Toddrick McIntosh—played with other teams but not with the Cowboys.

Most Obscure Player of 1994: Darren Studstill

Most Obscure Player of 1994: Darren Studstill

In the sixth round, the Cowboys took a chance on a converted quarterback from West Virginia. Studstill had shared playing time with Jake Kelchner for the undefeated Mountaineers in 1993, but Studstill was too inaccurate to play QB in the NFL.

According to the website Fantasy Football Challenge, Studstill played in four games in 1994. He never recorded a single statistic.

Dallas waived him after training camp before the 1995 season, and he signed with Jacksonville. He played in parts of two seasons for the Jaguars but was out of the league after 1996.

Studstill later became a high school football coach but has run into problems. This is from Wikipedia:

After being named head coach of Royal Palm Beach High School just one season earlier Studstill was fired in August 2009 just days before the start of training camp for the 2009-2010 season despite great success on the field in his inaugural campaign. He was dismissed partly because he and Principal Guarn Sims differed over the way Studstill handled finances and supervised his assistant coaches, though no one has alleged deliberate wrongdoing by Studstill. In one season under Studstill Royal Palm Beach went 11-2 and reached the regional finals, and he was a finalist for the county’s Lou Groza Coach of the Year award. Before being fired Studstill was given at least two opportunities to resign but declined. An official for the school was quoted as saying “In no way is it an attack on his personal or professional character. This is an isolated issue that directly deals with the direction of the football program.” He will also retain his position at the school as a disciplinarian.

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Cowboys on Pro-Football-Reference’s All-Decade Teams

Pro-Football-Reference has created its own version of All-Decade teams using its formula for calculating approximate value. This is an effort to provide an objective measurement of each player’s value, so it is (or should be) less subjective than other similar lists.

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The Cowboys are not especially well-represented. For instance, only two Cowboys made the list for the All-1970s team even though the Cowboys went to five Super Bowls during the decade.

I have compiled the list below that identifies the Cowboy players who made each all-decade team. I only included players who actually played for the Cowboys during the respective decade. Thus, I included Mike Ditka for the 1960s team because he played for Dallas in 1969. However, I excluded Herb Adderley, who made the 1960s team but did not play for Dallas until 1970.

Key: Position, 1st or 2nd Team: Name, Years Played for Dallas During the Respective Decade

1960s

RB, 2nd Team: Don Perkins, 1961-1968

WR, 2nd Team: Tommy McDonald, 1964

TE, 1st Team: Mike Ditka, 1969

DT, 2nd Team: Bob Lilly, 1961-1969

LB, 2nd Team: Chuck Howley, 1961-1969

CB, 2nd Team: Cornell Green, 1962-1969

1970s

QB, 1st Team: Roger Staubach, 1970-1979

S, 2nd Team: Cliff Harris, 1970-1979

1980s

RB, 2nd Team: Tony Dorsett, 1980-1987

DE, 1st Team: Too Tall Jones, 1980-1989

DT, 1st Team: Randy White, 1980-1988

1990s

RB, 1st Team: Emmitt Smith, 1990-1999

WR, 1st Team: Michael Irvin, 1990-1999

C, 2nd Team: Mark Stepnoski, 1990-1994, 1999

PR, 1st Team: Deion Sanders, 1995-1999

2000s

WR, 2nd Team: Terrell Owens, 2006-2008

G, 2nd Team: Larry Allen, 2000-2005

DT, 2nd Team: La’Roi Glover, 2002-2005

LB, 2nd Team: DeMarcus Ware, 2005-2009

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Most Obscure Player of 1993: Jim Price

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Can you remember the key blocking tight ends who played opposite Jay Novacek in 1993? It was not Alfredo Roberts, who had played in 16 games in 1992 but who suffered a broken foot during training camp in ’93.

The Cowboys also lost Rich Bartlewski (torn knee ligament) and Fallon Wacasey (shoulder) to injury.

Some might remember Scott Galbraith, who was a starter with Cleveland before joining the Cowboys and a starter with the Redskins after leaving Dallas. He even returned to Dallas in 1997. He does not win the MOP Award.

Other blocking tight ends included Kelly Blackwell and Joey Mickey.

  • Dallas picked up Blackwell in a five-player deal with Chicago in August 1993. Dallas sent Vinson Smith and Barry Minter to the Bears in exchange for Blackwell, John Roper, and safety Markus Paul. Blackwell had caught five passes as a rookie in 1992 but did catch a pass in two games with the Cowboys.
  • The Eagles drafted Mickey in the 7th round of the 1993 draft but released him at the end of training camp. Dallas picked him up off waivers, and he played in five games.

So there were a number of possible MOP Award winners among blocking tight ends alone. The winner is Bill Price.

Price had held out for a new contract from the L.A. Rams for 51 days. He signed but never played for the Rams that year. Dallas sent a sixth-round pick to the Rams for Price.

Here’s a blurb about the trade from the L.A. Times:

“It’s a great opportunity for Jim,” Ram Coach Chuck Knox said. “Dallas is in need of a quality tight end. They called us, and, because of our tight end situation, we went ahead with the trade.”

Price left for Dallas Tuesday afternoon and will begin practice today. He expects to be ready for the Cowboys’ game Sunday at Indianapolis.

Scott Casterline, Price’s agent, said the snag in Price’s negotiations centered on the league’s new free agency system, where players are paid minimal salaries in the early stages of their contracts. The Rams originally offered $210,000 when Price wanted $275,000.

Price will be reunited in Dallas with offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who was the Rams’ tight ends and wide receivers coach when Price was on the team’s practice squad in 1990.

The result? Three games, one reception, four yards.

Price returned to the St. Louis Rams in 1995 and played in 13 games.

So why does Price win the MOP Award over these other blocking tight ends?

He’s a member of the Montville (N.J.) Township High School Hall of Fame, that’s why.

Want more? Thanks to the Hall of Fame site, we know:

  • He is affectionately known as “Bambi” to his friends.
  • He began his athletic career as a dominating pitcher in Montville’s Little League program.
  • In high school, he was a 6’5” multi-talented athlete was a star in three sports: football, basketball, and baseball.
  • He became an agent in Los Angeles and has represented actors, writers, and directors.

True obscurity.

* * *

For a Super Bowl champion, the 1993 Dallas Cowboys had a surprisingly high number of potential candidates for the MOP Award.

  • Receiver Tyrone Williams caught one career pass against the Redskins on December 26, 1993 in a 38-3 Dallas win.
  • Linebacker Bobby Abrams played for four teams during the 1992 and 1993 seasons, including the Cowboys. However, he did not play in either Super Bowl.
  • Running back Lincoln Coleman gained 57 of his 132 rushing yards in 1993 against the Dolphins in the snow on Thanksgiving.

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