Trivia and Stats
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Here are ten trivia questions regarding the Cowboys as they prepare for the Texans in week 3.
As the Cowboys try to rebuild their engine, so to speak, and prepare for their trip to Houston, I’ve noted a few parallels between the current Dallas franchise and the former franchise based in Houston.
The Oilers of the early- to mid-1980s were terrible. Between 1982 and 1986, Houston posted records of 1-8 (strike season), 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, and 5-11. The combination of head coach Jerry Glanville and Warren Moon helped to turn things around by the mid-1980s, but it was not a quick fix. Between 1986 and 1990, the Oilers managed records of 9-6 (strike season), 10-6, 9-7, and 9-7. Moon was a prolific passer, and Houston’s defense was generally strong. The team made the playoffs every year from 1987 to 1993, but Houston was not a true contender until the early 1990s.
The team’s window opened for about three years under head coach Jack Pardee. Houston improved to 11-5 in 1991 and won another playoff game. However, the team faltered in the playoffs against the Broncos. The 1992 team again made the playoffs with a 10-6 record but famously fell apart in a 41-38 overtime loss at Buffalo. The team’s best season was 1993, when the Oilers managed a 12-4 record and earned a first-round bye along with a home game. However, Joe Montana turned back the clock in his first year with the Chiefs and led Kansas City to a win.
The 1994 season was a disaster for the Oilers. Moon left via free agency and joined the Vikings, and none of his replacements could get the job done. After a 1-9 start, the team fired Pardee and replaced him with current coach (albeit with the Titans) Jeff Fisher.
The Cowboys did not have to suffer through quite as long of a bad stretch in the early part of the decade as the Oilers did in the 1980s, but Dallas did record three consecutive 5-11 seasons. Like the Oilers, Dallas has gone through a period trying to stay in the positive side of .500. Thus, the team had records of 10-6, 6-10, 9-7, and 9-7 in the middle part of the last decade. The window seemed to open in 2007 when Dallas went 13-3, but the team has not proven itself as a consistent winner.
In January, I wrote a post comparing Pardee and Wade Phillips, and the comparisons are still holding up. Pardee’s best season was his fourth in Houston, but the team collapsed in his fifth. Phillips is currently in his fourth season, and though he could still save it, the team could also collapse.
Here are the comparisons (updated as far as records) between these two coaches:
Permanent NFL head coaching jobs: 3
Overall record: 87-77 (.530)
Total seasons: 11
Seasons above .500: 6
Playoff record: 1-5
- With the Bears, a blowout loss to the Cowboys in the 1977 playoffs.
- With the Redskins, a 35-34 loss to the Cowboys that cost Washington a division title and a playoff berth.
- With the Oilers, gave up a 21-6 lead to the Broncos in a 26-24 loss.
- With the Oilers, gave up a 35-3 lead to the Bills in a 41-38 loss.
- With the Oilers, lost to an aging Joe Montana, who left join the Chiefs after many years in San Francisco and led Kansas City to a championship game appearance.
Permanent NFL head coaching jobs: 3
Overall record: 81-56 (.591)
Total seasons: 11 (including 2010)
Seasons above .500: 6
Playoff record: 1-5
- With the Broncos, couldn’t stop Napoleon McCallum or Jeff Hostetler in a 42-24 loss.
- With the Bills, appeared to have beaten the Tennessee Titans, but the Titans used a controversial lateral on the kickoff return to score and win the game.
- With the Cowboys, lost a first-half lead to the Giants, and the Cowboys could not manage a comeback in a 21-17 loss.
- With the Cowboys, suffered a 44-6 blowout loss to the Eagles that cost the Cowboys a playoff berth.
- With the Cowboys, lost to an aging Brett Favre, who left join the Vikings after many years in Green Bay (with a stop-off in New York, of course) and led Minnesota to a championship game appearance.
Year 4 of the Jimmy Johnson regime gave the Cowboys their first Super Bowl title of the 1990s. Johnson’s success in 1992 significantly contrasts with experiences of the four other head coaches who coached at least four seasons with the Cowboys. This assumes, of course, that the current team is not going to go 13-1 from this point on to equal the 1992 team’s 13-3 mark.
In 1963, the Cowboys were entering into the fourth year of Tom Landry’s tenure. The Cowboys had a combined record of 9-28-3 between 1960 and 1962, but Year 4 was supposed to be different. Sports Illustrated ran a cover story indicating that Dallas could win the Eastern Conference title that season. Instead, Dallas started 0-4 en route to a 4-10 season.
Fans called for Landry to be fired, but Clint Murchison Jr. signed Landry to a 10-year contract. The rest is history, of course, as the Cowboys were a winning franchise by 1966.
There are plenty of obvious differences between Landry then and Wade Phillips now, though. Landry was 39 years old and was in his first job as a head coach. Phillips is 63 and is serving as head coach of his third franchise. His fate is probably the same as two more recent predecessors.
Barry Switzer was a generally unpopular coach from 1994 to 1997, but it was hard to argue with the success he had in his first three seasons– a 34-14 regular season record and a Super Bowl title. The initial focus of Year 4 was on taking back home-field advantage from the Packers, but the Cowboys instead fell apart and finished with a 6-10 record. Jerry Jones fired Switzer right after the season.
Bill Parcells was hired to resurrect the franchise, and the team’s 10-6 record in 2003 was quite an accomplishment. Hope were high by Year 4 that the Cowboys could take a step forward, but the team struggled to avoid mediocrity all season. Dallas finished at 9-7, and a heartbreaking playoff loss at Seattle prompted Parcells to step down.
* * *
Phillips has never made it to year 4 in his previous stops in Denver or Buffalo. The reason he never made it to year 4 was because his teams tended to regress. The 1995 Broncos followed up a 9-7 season by going 7-9, which led to Phillips’ dismissal. His Buffalo teams went 10-6 and 11-5 in his first two seasons only to drop to 8-8 in 2000. He was gone after year 3.
The discussion has already started about whether Wade will be back, and I personally don’t think he should unless the team turns things around. I don’t necessarily trust Jerry to make the best hire, given that nearly every decision made during the 2010 offseason had backfired.
Writing this as I’m wondering why to have any faith in the Cowboys “brain” “trust”…
When the Cowboys and Chargers bid farewell to head coaches Bill Parcells and Marty Schottenheimer after the 2006 season, the teams crossed paths when deciding who to hire as replacements. The Cowboys’ choices came down to San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and one-time Dallas offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Dallas chose Phillips, of course, and the Chargers turned around and hired Turner.
There were a few differences between the teams at the time. San Diego had just finished a 14-2 season and had the best record in the AFC in 2006. Dallas only managed a 9-7 record that season, though Dallas did make the playoffs. The Chargers’ offense featured a future hall-of-famer in LaDainian Tomlinson, while the Cowboys relied on Julius Jones and Marion Barber, neither of which would be confused with Tomlinson.
On the other hand, the teams had some similar features– e.g., young quarterbacks (Rivers and Romo); 3-4 defenses with emerging stars at outside linebacker (Merriman and Ware). And after the 2009 season, the teams also shared the distinction of helping (in a sense) the Saints to win the Super Bowl. Dallas had employed Sean Payton as an offensive assistant from 2003 to 2005. Payton left to become the head coach of New Orleans in 2006. When Payton came on board, he helped to recruit Drew Brees to sign as a free agent after the Chargers had released him. You probably know the result.
Since hiring Phillips, the Cowboys have gone 33-15. Since hiring Turner, the Chargers have gone 32-16. In 2007, Dallas went 13-3 and hosted a playoff game, only to lose to a New York team (Giants) with an inferior record during the regular season. In 2009, the Chargers went 13-3 and hosted a playoff team, only to lose to a New York team (Jets) with an inferior record during regular season.
And so far in 2010, both teams are 0-1 after losing to divisional rivals in primetime matchups. No, the Chargers didn’t do anything as stupid as the Cowboys did on Sunday night (that would be really tough to do), but San Diego was unable to score the game-tying touchdown after moving the ball from the Charger 33 to the Kansas City 4 with 1:14 remaining in the game.
Anyway, San Diego fans don’t have to humor themselves by inventing such phrases as Hell Mary, but it looks like Cowboy and Charger fans are practically destined to be in the same boat.
In January, I wrote a post noting several similarities between the 1991 season for the Dallas Cowboys and the most recent 2009 season. I thought these similarities were kind of eerie; others disagreed and noted that the similarities were little more than a series of coincidences. Fair enough.
But what we all really want in 2010 is for the Cowboys to follow up their 2009 season the same way the team followed up the 1991 campaign. There are more similarities between 1992 and the upcoming season worth noting, but there are also several differences.
Similar: Fourth-Year Head Coaches
In 1992, Jimmy Johnson was heading into his fourth season as the Dallas coach. During the previous season, he had won his first playoff game, which was a huge accomplishment given that he inherited a team that had gone 3-13 the season before his arrival. He had replaced a legend in Tom Landry, who had won two Super Bowls.
Wade Phillips is now heading into his fourth season as the Dallas coach. He won his first playoff game in 2009, which ended the team’s streak of seasons without a playoff win that began after the 1996 season. Phillips had replaced a legend in Bill Parcells, who had won two Super Bowls.
Different: Jimmy Johnson vs. Wade Phillips
Johnson helped to gut the Cowboys and rebuild it according to his standards. His approval rating jumped from 0% (or so) to about 80% or 90% between 1989 and 1991 thanks to his rebuilding efforts. He eventually became a legend.
Phillips had previously coached the Broncos and Bills, and he was an interim coach with two other teams. By the time he arrived in Dallas, his teams had generally been mediocre. Whereas Johnson started with nothing and went 1-15, Phillips inherited many of the team’s current stars and went 13-3 in his first season. His approval rating has never been great, but a playoff failure in 2007 followed by a poor 2008 season had many fans calling for his head.
Similar: Star Power in the Skills Positions
The 1992 Cowboys were a young team with an abundance of talent at the skills positions. Few teams could boast having skills players such as the likes of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, Alvin Harper, and Jay Novacek.
The 2010 Cowboys are a fairly young team with plenty of talent in the skills positions. The skill players include Pro Bowlers and former Pro Bowlers such as Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten.
Different: Acquiring the Star Players
The 1992 Cowboys’ star players were mostly high draft picks. Aikman, Smith, Irvin, and Harper were each first-round picks, while Johnston was a second-rounder.
Romo and Austin were both undrafted free agents. Witten was a third-round pick, while Barber was a fourth-round pick. Only Jones was taken in the first round, but he has yet to earn the starting running back job.
Similar: Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware
Charles Haley (#94) converted from outside linebacker to defensive end and gave the Cowboys a dominant pass rusher in 1992.
DeMarcus Ware (#94) is an All-Pro outside linebacker and gives the team its best outside pass rusher since Charles Haley.
Different: 4-3 vs. 3-4
The 1992 Dallas defense was built on speed. The team had an aggressive front four that was backed up by speedy linebackers. The team did not blitz often, and the secondary often played a bend-but-don’t-break zone defense.
The 2010 Dallas defense will line up in the 3-4, and the team will blitz frequently. The Cowboys often rely on Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins to dominate in man coverage.
Similar: Opening with the Redskins
The 1992 Cowboys had their first test in the opening week when they hosted the Washington Redskins in primetime on Monday Night Football. Dallas took care of business and won 23-10.
The 2010 Cowboys also open against the Redskins in the primetime slot on Sunday Night Football. Dallas needs to take care of business to start the season on a good note.
Different: The 1992 Redskins vs. the 2010 Redskins
The 1992 Redskins were defending Super Bowl Champions and featured the reigning Super Bowl MVP in QB Mark Rypien.
The 2010 Redskins are rebuilding after the team suffered through a 4-12 season in 2009. The team features a new head coach in Mike Shanahan and a new QB in Donovan McNabb.
Similar: Visiting the Site of the Previous Season’s Playoff Loss
The 1992 Cowboys put a big circle around their November 8 trip to Detroit, which is where the team had suffered a blowout loss the previous season.
The 2010 Cowboys on October 17 will visit Minnesota, which is where the team suffered a blowout loss last season.
Different: Strength of Schedule in General
The most difficult part of the 1992 Cowboys’ schedule was having to face division rivals Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. The Cowboys faced AFC West opponents, none of which were especially strong in 1992. Even the Falcons and Bears, who had made the playoffs in 1991, were not especially strong in 1992.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone will consider the 2010 schedule is easy. In addition to the divisional rivals, Dallas has to travel to Indianapolis, Green Bay, and Minnesota, and the team hosts the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints on Thanksgiving Day.
Anything I’m missing?
Pretty sad news today as the Cowboys traded receiver Patrick Crayton to San Diego for a seventh-round draft pick next year. The trade isn’t entirely unexpected, as some thought Dallas would move Crayton once the team selected Dez Bryant in the first round of the draft. Still, Crayton has been a solid contributor since he entered the league as a seventh-round pick in 2004. The receiving corps that season? Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, Antonio Bryant (before he was shipped to Cleveland), and Quincy Morgan (traded for Bryant).
Since then, all of those receivers left. Terrell Owens came and went. Roy Williams came and has done nothing. Crayton seemed to be a long-shot when he arrived, but he was steady throughout his entire career. He played 82 games in Dallas and started 32 of them. He averaged 32.7 receptions and 481.3 yards per season during that time. He ranks 19th on the team’s all-time list for career receptions (196, trailing Terry Glenn by 12 receptions) and ranks 16th on the list for receiving yards with 2,888. He was a decent punt returner and even took two back for touchdowns in 2009.
The title of the post asks whether Crayton is the best slot receiver in team history. This is a tough question, given that it’s tough to identify a slot receiver before Butch Johnson. Since that time, the team has had a handful of third receivers who played principally in the slot position. I won’t waste time discussing the likes of Ernie Mills, Wane McGarity, or Stepfret Williams. Crayton is among four slot receivers who would be part of this debate. Others include Butch Johnson, Kevin Williams, and Kelvin Martin. Here are the career stats for these players:
Butch Johnson (1976-1983): 112 games, 132 receptions, 2,124 yards, 19 TD
Kevin Williams (1993-1996): 57 games, 98 receptions, 1,268 yards, 5 TD
Kelvin Martin (1987-1992, 1996): 98 games, 237 receptions, 3,083 yards, 9 TD
Patrick Crayton (2004-2009): 82 games, 196 receptions, 2,888 yards, 23 TD
Like Crayton, the others spent part of their careers as starters, but they were best known for playing the slot on third downs and other obvious passing situations. Who among these was the best?
Johnson may be the player most would remember, given his amazing catch in Super Bowl XII and flamboyance in developing the California Quake. But Johnson never caught more than 25 passes in any single season until 1983, when he caught 41 for 561 yards.
Martin’s receptions mostly came during his years as a starter in the 1980s. When the team became competitive in 1991 and 1992, he only had 16 and 32 receptions respectively.
Williams caught a total of 33 passes as a slot receiver in 1993 and 1994 before becoming a starter in 1995. Even while starting 16 games, he only had 38 receptions that year.
Crayton wasn’t a great starter in 2007, but he was consistent while filling the slot role in other seasons. I think he’ll be missed.
The Cowboys provided some real news today when they released left tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin. The Hamlin move is not surprising, but I’m not sure how many expected the team to dump Flozell.
The team has had considerable success at the left tackle position, with Adams serving the longest as a starter. One blogger posed a ridiculous question of whether Adams should be a part of the Ring of Honor; that’s very far-fetched, in my opinion, but he was certainly one of the more consistent linemen in team history.
In the past 50 years, the team has only had to rely on 10 permanent starting left tackles. Here’s a look:
Bob Fry, 1960-1963
Tony Liscio, 1964, 1967-1970 (as well as the 1971 playoffs)
Jim Boeke, 1965-1966
Ralph Neely, 1971-1977
Pat Donovan, 1978-1983
Phil Pozderac, 1984-1986
Mark Tuinei, 1987, 1989-1996
George Hegamin, 1997
Larry Allen, 1998
Flozell Adams, 1999-2009
(As a footnote to this list, Torrin Tucker started 10 games in 2005 when Adams was injured).
Most of these players did not play left tackle exclusively.
- Fry played both left and right tackle towards the end of his career.
- Liscio was injured after starting at left tackle in 1964, then returned to play guard. By 1967, he returned to start at left tackle.
- Neely was named all-pro three times at right tackle before taking over at left tackle in 1971.
- Donovan played right tackle in 1977 before taking over as the starter at left tackle in 1978.
- Tuinei was drafted as a defensive tackle.
- Allen is best known, of course, for playing right and left guard, but he played at the tackle position for part of 1997 and all of 1998 season.
- Adams started 12 games at right guard in 1998 before taking over full-time at left tackle in 1999.
With this information in mind, who is the best left tackle in team history. Please participate in the poll below.
This is a tough one. Adams is certainly more decorated than the others, but I think that Tuinei was just as consistent and more reliable in terms of avoiding mental mistakes. My vote goes to Tuinei, but I suspect I’m in the minority.
Here’s a trivia question: which injured player did Adams replace at right guard in 1998?
The 2006 season marked the first time in ten seasons that the Cowboys had defeated an eventual Super Bowl Champion (Indianapolis) during the regular season. During each season since then, the Cowboys have faced the winner, and in the case of the Giants in 2007, Dallas played the winner a total of three times, including a playoff game.
With the Saints’ win over the Colts last night, the Cowboys have now improved their record against eventual Super Bowl winners to 9-17. Dallas also went 0-3 against eventual champions in the years prior to the first Super Bowl (1960-1965).
The Cowboys have lost to the eventual Super Bowl winner in the playoffs nine times.
Here is an updated look at the all-time record:
The all-time record:
1960– vs. Philadelphia, L 25-27
1964– vs. Cleveland, L 16-20
1965– vs. Green Bay, L 3-13
1973– vs. Miami, L 7-14
1979– vs. Pittsburgh, L 3-14
1980– vs. Oakland, W 19-13
1981– vs. San Francisco, L 14-45
1982– vs. Washington, W 24-10
1983– vs. L.A. Raiders, L 38-40
1985– vs. Chicago, L 0-44
1986– vs. N.Y. Giants, W 31-28
1986– vs. N.Y. Giants, L 14-17
1987– vs. Washington, L 7-13
1987– vs. Washington, L 20-24
1989– vs. San Francisco, L 14-31
1990– vs. N.Y. Giants, L 7-28
1990– vs. N.Y. Giants, L 17-31
1991– vs. Washington, L 31-33
1991– vs. Washington, W 24-21
1994– vs. San Francisco, L 14-21
1996– vs. Green Bay, W 21-6
1998– vs. Denver, L 23-42
2000– vs. Baltimore Ravens, L 0-27
2003– vs. New England, L 0-12
2006– vs. Indianapolis, W 21-14
2007- vs. N.Y. Giants, W 45-35
2007- vs. N.Y. Giants, W 31-20
2008- vs. Pittsburgh, L 20-13
2009- vs. New Orleans, W 24-17
1966– vs. Green Bay (NFL Championship), L 27-34
1967– vs. Green Bay (NFL Championship), L 17-21
1970– vs. Baltimore Colts (Super Bowl V), L 13-16
1975– vs. Pittsburgh (Super Bowl X), L 17-21
1978– vs. Pittsburgh (SuperBowl XIII), L 31-35
1981– vs. San Francisco (NFC Championship), L 27-28
1982– vs. Washington (NFC Championship), L 17-31
1994– vs. San Francisco (NFC Championship), L 28-38
2007- vs. N.Y. Giants (Divisional Round), L 21-17
* * *
When the Cowboys beat the Saints in December, it marked the fourth time that Dallas had beaten a team that had been undefeated as late as November. In each of those four seasons, the team that the Cowboys beat eventually won the Super Bowl. Here’s a look:
December 5, 1982: Dallas 24, Washington 10
This game was not entirely analogous, given that the game took place shortly after the strike of 1982 ended. The Redskins were 4-0 when they faced the 3-1 Cowboys, but a 24-10 loss gave Washington its first defeat. This was also Washington’s last loss, as the Redskins won eight straight to win the title.
November 24, 1991: Dallas 24, Washington 21
Few gave the 6-5 Cowboys a chance to beat the 11-0 Redskins, but the Cowboys rode a strong first half and a big play by Michael Irvin in the fourth quarter to beat Washington. The Redskins finished 14-2 before winning Super Bowl XXVI.
November 19, 2006: Dallas 21, Indianapolis 14
The 5-4 Cowboys looked like no match for the 9-0 Indianapolis Colts, but the Cowboys stole the game with two Marion Barber touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Colts only managed a 12-4 record but beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
December 19, 2009: Dallas 24, New Orleans 17
The Cowboys ended the Saints’ bid for a 16-0 season, but New Orleans still looks like the best team in the NFC. The Saints finished the season at 13-3 but then won the NFC title on their way to a 31-17 win over Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV.
DallasCowboys.com is showing a video with Emmitt Smith’s 22 greatest runs as part of the celebration for Smith’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, several of the runs featured in the clip show Smith running wild against the Washington Redskins.
During Smith’s 13 seasons in Dallas from 1990 to 2002, Smith faced the Redskins 24 times. In those 24 games, he had a total of 528 rushing attempts for 2431 yards and 23 TDs. That’s an average of 22 attempts, 101.3 yards, and .96 touchdowns per game. He gained at least 100 yards in 12 of those 24 games.
Against all other opponents while he was with the Cowboys, Smith averaged 19.9 attempts, 83.2 yards, and .73 TDs per game.
The Cowboys went 17-7 against the Redskins in the 24 games that Smith played against Washington. Smith missed the season opener in 1993 while holding out during a contract dispute. He also missed the season finale in 1996 when the team was resting its starters. Dallas lost both games.
His final game with the Cowboys was also against the Redskins, and it is the one game he probably would like to forget. He needed only 38 yards in the season finale to surpass 1,000 for the 12th year in a row. Instead, Washington held him to just 13 yards in 18 carries, as he finished with 975 yards for the year.
Here’s a summary:
9/23/1990 (Wash. 19, Dal. 15): 17 att., 63 yds., 1 TD.
11/22/1990 (Dal. 27, Wash. 17): 23 att., 123 yds., 2 TD
9/9/1991 (Wash. 33, Dal. 31): 11 att., 112 yds., 1 TD
11/24/1991 (Dal. 24, Wash. 21): 34 att., 132 yds., 1 TD
9/7/1992 (Dal. 23, Wash. 10): 27 att., 140 yds., 1 TD
12/13/1992 (Wash. 20, Dal. 17): 25 att., 99 yds., 0 TD
12/26/1993 (Dal. 38, Wash. 3): 21 att., 153 yds., 1 TD
10/2/1994 (Dal. 34, Wash. 7): 16 att., 48 yds., 2 TD
11/20/1994 (Dal. 31, Wash. 7): 21 att., 85 yds., 2 TD
10/1/1995 (Wash. 27, Dal. 23): 22 att., 95 yds., 0 TD
12/3/1995 (Wash. 24, Dal. 17): 21 att., 91 yds., 1 TD
11/28/1996 (Dal. 21, Wash. 10): 29 att., 155 yds., 3 TD
10/13/1997 (Wash. 21, Dal. 16): 17 att., 61 yds, 0 TD
11/16/1997 (Dal. 17, Wash. 14): 21 att., 99 yds., 0 TD
10/4/1998 (Dal. 31, Wash. 10): 28 att., 120 yds., 1 TD
12/27/1998 (Dal. 23, Wash. 7): 10 att., 67 yds., 2 TD
9/12/1999 (Dal. 41, Wash. 35): 23 att., 109 yds., 1 TD
10/24/1999 (Dal. 38, Wash. 20): 24 att., 80 yds., 1 TD
9/18/2000 (Dal. 27, wash. 21): 24 att., 83 yds., 1 TD
12/10/2000 (Dal. 32, Wash. 13): 23 att., 150 yds., 1 TD
10/15/2001 (Dal. 9, Wash. 7): 25 att., 107 yds. 0 TD
12/2/2001 (Dal. 20, Wash, 14): 25 att., 102 yds, 1 TD
11/28/2002 (Dal. 27, Wash. 20): 23 att., 144 yds., 0 TD
12/29/2002 (Wash. 20, Dal. 14): 18 att., 13 yds., 0 TD