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Cowboys’ Rushing Statistics Are Among the Worst in Team History

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 14:  Quarterback Tony ...

BALTIMORE, MD – OCTOBER 14: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 hands the ball off to running back DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Tony Romo is currently on pace to set personal records for attempts, completions, and yards (and, um, interceptions) in a season. It is generally well-known, though, that putting the ball in Romo’s hands usually isn’t a good answer for the Cowboys.

The reason why Romo’s stats are up across the board? This Dallas rushing “attack” may be the worst in team history. Yes, much of this is because DeMarco Murray has been injured, but the incompetence is beyond ridiculous.

Dallas currently has 667 rushing yards, for an average of 83.4 per game. That ranks 29th in the pass-happy NFL of today.

At this rate, the Cowboys would finish with 1,334 rushing yards and 8 TDs.

Now consider these forgettable seasons:

1960: Dallas infamously finished with a record of 0-11-1.

With the likes of L.G. Dupre and Don McIlhenny, the Cowboys had 1,049 rushing yards with 6 TDs.

That’s an average of 87.4 yards per game, which is better than what Murray, Felix Jones, and company have managed so far.

1989: Dallas infamously finished with a record of 1-15.

The Cowboys traded Herschel Walker after five games and were left with Paul Palmer and pre-Moose-hype Daryl Johnston. The team finished with 1,409 rushing yards.

Of course, that’s better than the 2012 team would have at the current pace.

2010: Dallas started with a 1-7 record before finishing at 6-10.

Dallas has had similar problems running the ball in the recent past. Remember 2010? That was the year that the team started 1-7, leading Jerry Jones to fire Wade Phillips.

The offensive coordinator during those first eight games was Jason Garrett. The rushing stats during those eight games:

605 yards. 2 TDs.

It’s worth noting that the 2010 Cowboys ran the ball considerably better in the second eight games, gaining at least 100 yards in each of those games. The 2012 Cowboys have managed to reach the century mark as a team in only two games. The exact stats may not matter, but the ground game had better improve if this team wants to finish better than 6-10.

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How Much Longer Can Jason Witten Play at This Level?

Jason Witten has surpassed Michael Irvin‘s mark for career receptions. It will be possible, though very difficult, for Witten to set the mark for career receiving yards.

As of last night, Jason Witten is the Dallas Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver in terms of receptions. Witten now has 754 receptions, surpassing Michael Irvin’s total of 750.

After a well-publicized slow start in 2012, Witten has caught fire. He has 58 receptions for 538 yards in just eight games. At this pace, he would finish the season with 116 receptions for 1076 yards. He has surpassed more than 1,000 receiving yards three times during his career but has never had more than 96 receptions in a season.

He needs 3,457 yards to surpass Irvin in receiving yards. The question for now: can he last long enough to break the mark?

Somewhat amazingly, Witten is only 30 years old. Many may look at Tony Gonzalez (now 36) to suggest that Witten has five or six more years left in him.

However, Gonzalez is really the exception in terms of durability at the tight end position. Consider these stats:

  • In NFL history, tight ends age 30 or older have had at least 50 receptions 45 times. Gonzalez has at least 50 receptions in each season since he turned 30, including the current season.
  • Once tight ends reach the age of 33, their production typically falls off considerably. Only six tight ends have had 50 receptions after reaching the age of 33. Gonzalez is one of them, of course, along with former Cowboy Jay NovacekPete Metzelaars, , Pete Retzlaff, Shannon Sharpe, and Wesley Walls.
  • Only five tight ends age 30 or older have had at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Gonzalez did it twice when he was still with Kansas City.
  •  The oldest tight end to have 1,000 receiving yards was Retzlaff, who played in Philadelphia during the 1960s.
Witten is most certainly tough and has had relatively few injuries, so it is certainly possible he could remain productive long enough to catch Irvin. Odds are against him, though.
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A Very Short History of 3-3 Records

A button stripped from the suit of Jerry Jones.

The Cowboys are off to a 3-3 record for the second year in a row. According to at least one story, Dallas has about a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs with this start.

(Losing Sean Lee certainly doesn’t help. In fact, I think the Cowboys’  chances of recording another turnover this season just fell from 50% to 5%. I’ll keep you posted.)

The Cowboys don’t have a deep history with 3-3 records. Including the 2012 season, Dallas has started only eight seasons with 3-3 marks.

The really bad news: the Cowboys managed a winning record in only one of those previous seven seasons, and that was thanks to a boost that Tony Romo gave the team in 2006. Here is a summary:

1961: Start 3-3, Finish 4-9-1. Dallas finished the year with an 0-6-1 record.

1962: Start 3-3-1, Finish 5-8-1. Dallas finished the year with a 1-5 record.

1987: Start 3-3, Finish 7-8. Thanks to the replacement players, Dallas started the season at 3-1. It did not end as well.

1997: Start 3-3, Finish 6-10. Barry Switzer’s swan song did not end well as the Cowboys lost their last five games.

2002: Start 3-3, Finish 5-11. Dave Campo’s swan song did not start or end well.

2006: Start 3-3, Finish 9-7. Lost to Seattle in the playoffs. The Cowboys had a 3-3 record when Romo officially took over for Drew Bledsoe. Dallas improved to 9-5 but finished at 9-7.

2011: Start 3-3, Finish 8-8. The Cowboys became world-beaters in November before having yet another December to forget.

 

By the way, don’t look at this year’s December schedule. It isn’t cause for optimism.

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As the 2008 Draft Class Has Failed

Felix Jones and Isiah Stanbeck

Felix Jones, former All-American kickoff returner and former contributor to the Dallas Cowboys (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

The year was 2009. The Cowboys needed a win over the Philadelphia Eagles at home to secure the NFC East title. Dallas led 17-0 at the half.

Second-year running back Felix Jones, taken in the first round of the 2008 draft, took a pitch to the left and raced 49 yards for a touchdown. That effectively ended the game.

One week later, the Cowboys hosted the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs. It marked the first playoff game at Cowboys Stadium.

Jones again broke the game wide open in the third quarter when he scored on a 73-yard touchdown run. He finished the day with 148 rushing yards. Another 2008 pick, Tashard Choice, scored in the second quarter to give Dallas a 14-7 lead.

Yet another first-round pick from 2008, Mike Jenkins, snagged an interception in the second half. A fifth-round pick from 2008, Orlando Scandrick, helped in a secondary that mostly shut down the Eagles.

Dallas won, 34-14.

Okay, so what’s my point? Well, let’s look at what the Cowboys have done since beating the Eagles in the playoffs on January 9, 2010.

* The Cowboys barely showed up in a 34-3 loss at Minnesota in the second round of the playoffs.

* The Cowboys’ overall record since January 9, 2010: 16-21.

* Since scoring on long touchdown runs in back-to-back games at the end of the 2009 season, Jones has scored a total of three touchdowns. He has not scored since the opening week of the 2011 season.

* Since rushing for more than 100 yards in back-to-back weeks in 2009, he has rushed for more than 100 yards a total of four times. He has 13 rushing yards in four games in 2012.

* Since Jenkins intercepted the pass against the Eagles on January 9, 2010, he has had a total of two interceptions. That is the same total as Orlando Scandrick during that time.

* Draft picks Choice, Martellus Bennett, and Eric Walden now play for other teams. Although Choice hasn’t done much, Bennett has three touchdown receptions for the Giants, and Walden has been a part-time starter with the Packers.

There have been plenty of things that have gone wrong since the promising end to the 2009 season. The entire 2009 draft was a monumental failure, thanks in large part to a terrible trade for Roy Williams. Several key players aged quickly, leading to the current rebuilding effort.

The 2008 draft class, though, certainly hasn’t helped matters. Those players showed so much promise only to regress almost immediately.

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Dallas Record After the Bye Week: 16-7

Please insert “window of opportunity” comment.

The Cowboys return to action next weekend with a 2-2 record. Nine teams in the NFC now have a better record, including every team in the NFC West.

Nevertheless, the Cowboys are usually pretty good after bye weeks. Since the league first started giving teams a week off in the middle of seasons in 1990, the Cowboys have  total record of 16-7 after bye weeks. This included five consecutive wins between 2005 and 2009.

The bad news is that the Cowboys have lost games after bye weeks during each of the last two seasons, and both losses were most frustrating. Two years ago, the Cowboys allowed a long kickoff return to the Titans late in the fourth quarter after Dallas had tied the game. Tennessee scored and won the game 34-27. Last year, Dallas held a fourth-quarter lead at New England only to let fans watch a patented let-down in a 20-16 loss.

In 2012, the Cowboys have to travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens, whom the Cowboys have never defeated. The last time Dallas faced Baltimore, the Cowboys added to their recent legacy of disgrace by blowing the final home game at Texas Stadium in 2008.

Here is a look at the games following bye weeks.

1990

Record before the bye: 6-7

Next game vs. Phoenix: W 41-10

1991

Record before the bye: 5-2

Next game vs. Detroit: L 34-10

1992

Record before the bye: 3-0

Next game vs. Philadelphia: L 31-7

1993 (first bye)

Record before the bye: 1-2

Next game vs. Green Bay: W 36-14

1993 (second bye)

Record before the bye: 4-2

Next game vs. Philadelphia: W 23-10

1994

Record before the bye: 2-1

Next game vs. Washington: W 34-7

1995

Record before the bye: 6-1

Next game vs. Atlanta: W 28-13

1996

Record before the bye: 2-3

Next game vs. Arizona: W 17-3

1997

Record before the bye: 2-1

Next game vs. Chicago: W 27-3

1998

Record before the bye: 4-3

Next game vs. Philadelphia: W 34-0

1999

Record before the bye: 2-0

Next game vs. Arizona: W 35-7

2000

Record before the bye: 2-3

Next game vs. N.Y. Giants: L 19-14

2001

Record before the bye: 1-4

Next game  vs. Arizona: W 17-3

2002

Record before the bye: 3-6

Next game vs. Indianapolis: L 20-3

2003

Record before the bye: 1-1

Next game vs. N.Y. Jets: W 17-6

2004

Record before the bye: 2-1

Next game vs. N.Y. Giants: L 26-10

2005

Record before the bye: 5-3

Next game vs. Philadelphia: W 21-20

2006

Record before the bye: 1-1

Next game vs. Tennessee: W 45-14

2007

Record before the bye: 6-1

Next game vs. Philadelphia: W 38-17

2008

Record before the bye: 5-4

Next game vs. Washington: W 14-10

2009

Record before the bye: 3-2

Next game vs. Atlanta: W 37-21

2010

Record before the bye: 1-2

Next game vs. Tennessee: L 34-27

2011

Record before the bye: 2-2

Next game vs. New England: L 20-16

2012

Record before the bye: 2-2

Totals:

Winning records before a bye week (counting the 1993 season twice): 13

Losing record before a bye week: 7

.500 record before a bye week (including the 2012 season): 4

Record after a bye week: 16-7

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So the Good News…Sean Lee Again Leads the League in Tackles

The Cowboys have at least one star. You know, someone who tackles opponents and generally does his job all the time. That kind of star.

The stat sheet isn’t looking good for this Cowboys team.

Tony Romo is the 23rd rated passer in the NFL, just behind Sam Bradford. He leads the league now with eight interceptions.

DeMarco Murray ranks 18th in rushing, but he has a per-run average of just 3.9. He also has only one run of 20 yards or more.

Jason Witten and Dez Bryant both have 21 receptions to lead the team, but they both have more drops than we care to count.

Felix Jones ranks 27th in average kickoff returns. I’ve barely ever heard of half the guys ahead of him.

So the positive stat? Sean Lee has 46 total tackles to lead the league. He is now one ahead of San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman. If there is a single Dallas player who should even watch the Pro Bowl this year, it’s Lee.

DeMarcus Ware is tied for third in the league with 5.0 sacks. That’s good, too.

Then there are more bad stats, as in the 20 players with more interceptions that the entire Dallas defense combined. As we know, it only takes two picks to surpass the entire Dallas defense.

As a team, Dallas ranks 16th in total offense, averaging 364.0 yards per game. The defense still ranks 4th, allowing 277.5 yards per game.

The Cowboys have scored just 65 points this year and allowed 88. At this rate, the Cowboys would only score 260 points in the entire season. That would be the lowest output since 2002, when the Cowboys went 5-11 under Dave Campo.

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A Pathetic INT Drought

We shall not soon forget that Tony Romo threw five interceptions last night. That’s for sure.

Defensive backs for the Chicago Bears picked off four of those passes. This idea—defensive backs intercepting passes thrown by the quarterback— presents a concept about which the Cowboys are unfamiliar.

Dallas has had one interception this year, and that was by Sean Lee. Thus, we already know that neither of the former first-round picks nor the $50 million shut-down corner has had a pick this year.

Anyone want to take a guess about the last time a Dallas defensive back recorded an interception?

The last time the Cowboys forced an interception in 2011 was against the Giants on December 11. Who recorded the pick?

Sean Lee.

The Cowboys went 1-4 to finish the 2011 season, and Lee’s interception against the Giants was the only one during those five games. Moreover, the Cowboys did not have an interception on Thanksgiving Day against Miami, either.

The answer to my question above is Orlando Scandrick, who intercepted a Rex Grossman pass on November 20, 2011.

Thus, in the past ten games, the Cowboys have managed two interceptions, and both were by Sean Lee.

The Cowboys did manage three picks against the Bills in week 10 last year. Terence Newman made two of those picks, while Frank Walker made the other. Of course, neither is still playing for Dallas.

Mike Jenkins had five interceptions in 2009. Since then, he has had a total of two. Brandon Carr has had a total of eight career interceptions, all while playing for Kansas City. Of course, Morris Claiborne is still waiting for his first career interception.

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How Many Former Dallas Cowboys Have Been Television Commentators?

The original NFL Network logo, used from 2003 ...

Employment with the NFL Network is part of the Dallas Cowboys’ retirement system.

Most would acknowledge that the most famous member of the Dallas Cowboys to serve as an television announcer was Don Meredith with Monday Night Football (as well as NBC during a time after he left ABC).

While Meredith was at the height of his popularity, however, few other former Cowboys appeared on television. Don Perkins was a color commentator for a year in the early 1970s, as was Roger Staubach in the early 1980s.

(Staubach is and will always be my hero, but his announcing was awful.)

Charlie Waters and Drew Pearson were on some broadcast teams during the 1980s, but neither was memorable. In fact, I would bet that some long-time Dallas fans would not have guessed that Waters or Pearson ever appeared as color-commentators on television.

Fast-forward to today, when you can barely turn on a football program without seeing a former member of the Cowboys. You’ll see Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnson, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson, Darren Woodson, Mike Ditka, Bill Parcells, Brian Baldinger (yes, a former Cowboy), and Martellus Wiley (yes, a former Cowboy).

So I did some digging and tried to come up with a complete list of former Cowboy player and coaches who have served as television commentators. I did not attempt to find those who appeared on radio. I am fairly sure I’ve missed a name or two (or more), but below is what I know/found. Let me know who I am missing.

1960-1980s

Brian Baldinger (NFL Network studio analyst)

Frank Clarke (CBS color commentator)

Mike Ditka (NBC, ESPN commentator/studio analyst)

Jean Fugett (CBS color commentator)

Butch Johnson (NBC color commentator)

Eddie LeBaron (CBS color commentator)

Harvey Martin (NBC color commentator)

Don Meredith (ABC, NBC color commentator)

Drew Pearson (CBS color commentator)

Don Perkins (CBS color commentator)

Dan Reeves (NFL Network studio analyst)

Roger Staubach (CBS color commentator)

Charlie Waters (CBS color commentator)

1990s-2000s

Troy Aikman (Fox color commentator)

Steve Beuerlein (CBS color commentator)

Butch Davis (NFL Network analyst)

Michael Irvin (ESPN, NFL Network studio analyst)

Jimmy Johnson (Fox studio analyst)

Keyshawn Johnson (ESPN studio analyst)

Daryl Johnston (Fox color commentator, NFL Network analyst)

Ken Norton, Jr. (NFL Network analyst)

Bill Parcells (NBC color commentator, ESPN studio analyst)

Deion Sanders (CBS, NFL Network studio analyst)

Emmitt Smith (NFL Network analyst)

Marcellus Wiley (ESPN studio analyst)

Darren Woodson (ESPN studio analyst)

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The First Time the Bears Visited Dallas

The Dallas Morning News headline for the 1962 game between the Bears and Cowboys. Chicago won, 34-33.

The early history of the Dallas Cowboys is partially intertwined with the Chicago Bears. Chicago selected SMU quarterback Don Meredith in the third round of the 1960 NFL Draft and, thanks to an agreement between George Halas and the Dallas franchise, the Bears traded Meredith to Dallas for a third-round pick in 1962.

Dallas faced the Bears at Wrigley Field in 1960 and lost 17-7. Meredith did not play in that game, and third-stringer Don Heinrich threw the Cowboys’ only touchdown pass.

Two years later, Meredith did play when the Cowboys hosted the Bears for the first time. The game played at the Cotton Bowl turned into a bit of a wild affair. Chicago’s Billy Wade threw for 466 yards, 201 of which went to receiver Johnny Morris, but the Bears could not convert yards into points.

Dallas held a 13-10 lead at halftime thanks to two touchdown passes by Don Meredith. However, the Bears’ Joe Fortunato blocked Allen Green’s first extra-point attempt, which turned out to be critical at game’s end.

Rookie Amos Bullocks gave Dallas a 33-24 lead on a 73-yard touchdown run with nine minutes left in the game. At the time, it was the longest run from scrimmage in the team’s short history.

However, the Bears clawed their way back into the game, as Wade hit Morris on a 45-yard touchdown pass to cut the Dallas lead to 33-31. Then, with just 31 seconds left in the game, Roger LeClerc hit a 15-yard field goal to give Chicago the win.

Had the Cowboys won, they might have pulled out a winning record in 1962. However, the team slid down the stretch, losing five of their last six games to finish with a 5-8-1 record.

The Cowboys have faced the Bears 20 times and have an overall record of 11-9. The teams last played in 2010, when Chicago frustrated Dallas in a 27-20 win for the Bears.

* * *

Incidentally, total attendance for the Cowboys’ opener against Tampa Bay was 81,984, and the numbers may be a bit higher on Monday night.

Total attendance for the 1962 game? 12,692.

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Some Not-So-Positive Statistics

After their opening-game win over the Giants, the Cowboys could boast about some nice offensive and defensive statistics. One week and a poor showing later, and the Cowboys’  stats are not looking so gaudy.

Dallas fell to #11 in total offense, averaging 364.5 over two games. In 2011, the Cowboys finished the season ranked #11 with an average of 375.5 yards per game. Those numbers alone aren’t horrible, but the 2011 statistics are, of course, from an 8-8 season.

Want something horrible? The Cowboys rank #29 in points scored, averaging 15.5 points per game. The only teams with fewer points are the Jaguars, Raiders, and Titans. Of course, keep in mind that Washington, Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, and San Diego averaged 30 or more points in two games, but three of those teams have the same 1-1 record as Dallas.

Thanks largely to the Giants game, the Cowboys rank #28 in penalties, having committed 18 in two games. Those high-scoring Redskins have 23, which is the most after two weeks.

Defensively, the Cowboys rank #9 in yards allowed, giving up 292.0 yards in two games. Not bad.

What’s not good is that the Cowboys are among nine teams without an interception after two games. I know it’s largely only coincidence, but the overall record of those nine teams?

Try 5-13.

Combined record of the four teams leading the league with 5 interceptions?

Try 6-2.

As far as individual statistics, few Cowboys really stand out. One big name that shows up is Sean Lee, who leads the league in tackles with 26.

Tony Romo is just outside the top 10 in several categories. He ranks #11 in ESPN’s QBR.

DeMarco Murray ranks #10 in rushing yards with 175. Former All-American kickoff returner Felix Jones has one carry for one yard.

None of the Dallas receivers are in the top 20 in terms of receptions or receiving yards.

Jason Witten’s injury has obviously affected his play, and he is off to the slowest start in several years. He has only 6 receptions for 68 yards, marking his slowest start since he had 5 receptions for 47 yards in the first two games of the 2005 season.

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