Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from December 28, 1985

A reader named Bruce Lombard earlier this year most generously sent me a stack of copies of the old Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from the 1985 season and 1986 offseason. Each Wednesday, we will take a look at some interesting tidbits in these issues.

The focus this week is in the issue published on December 28, 1985.

Ask Tex Schramm: Stealing Hand Signals

A growing trend among college and NFL teams in the 1980s was to send in plays through use of hand signals. A reader asked Tex Schramm about whether the opposing team could steal these hand signals. Tex replied that though teams had tried it, it was difficult to relay information to the defense in a timely manner. Moreover, he found that teams that tried to focus on stealing signs didn’t focus enough on playing football.

Cowboys Fall Apart at San Francisco

At one point, the Cowboys led the San Francisco 49ers 13-0 and nearly made it 20-0 in the first half. However, the team barely played after that, and the 49ers outscored Dallas 31-3 in the final two and a half quarters. The Cowboys rested several starters, including QB Danny White, receiver Tony Hill, and lineman Jim Cooper.

With the loss, Dallas was set to travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Top Ten NFL Poll: Dallas Finishes 7th

The Cowboys remained among the top 10 NFL teams for most of the 1985 season, and with the loss the 49ers, the team finished ranked 7th. The Rams were one spot ahead.

Biggest Problem with No. 3 QBs: Frustration

Third-string QB Steve Pelleur helped the Cowboys to win the NFC East by leading the team on a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter of the team’s win over the Giants.

Up to that point, most of the team’s third-string QBs had been “lost souls.” These players included the likes of Sonny Gibbs, John Roach, Bob Belden, and Glenn Carano. A few others, including Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, and Gary Hogeboom, were listed as the #3 QBs but later became backups and then starters.

Most of these third-stringers said the same thing about their time on the team: it was frustrating, which partially explains why few lasted long.

Some Question Whether Landry Would Retire

Frank Luska ran a piece pondering whether Tom Landry would retire, especially if the team won the Super Bowl. According to Landry, “People say, ‘Surely you want to go out on top and win another Super Bowl.’ No, that’s not it. When I go, I’ll go regardless of where I am.”

(For the record, he was playing golf three years later when told he was let go).

“Almost Anthony” Is One Key Missing from the 2009 Run

Players on the current version of the Cowboys don’t have nicknames like Too Tall, Hollywood, Mr. Cowboy, or the Dodger. Instead, the team has such original nicknames as TNew and DWare. There are plenty of variations of Tony Romo’s name, but that’s a different matter.

The most appropriate nickname for anyone on this team is Almost Anthony Spencer. The former first-round pick has a nose for the football and is often seen near the play. However, he is more well-known for near misses, as in “Spencer almost made it to the quarterback there, but he grabbed nothing but air.”

In 2009, after a 17-10 loss to Denver, I wrote, “If we could reward players for almost making plays, Spencer would be a Pro Bowler. Instead, he nearly gets sacks and nearly gets interceptions but never quite gets there.”

One week later, after a 26-20 overtime win over the Chiefs, I added, “Until further notice, Spencer will be known as Almost Anthony. He had two tackles and three quarterback hits, but he still has not recorded a sack.”

Spencer had two sacks against the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day, and those were his only two sacks for the entire season after 13 weeks.

Dallas had to win their final three games to have a shot at the playoffs. It was during those three games that Spencer temporarily shed the Almost Anthony name. Consider these stats:

vs. New Orleans: 6 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 3 QB hits, 1 fumble recovery.

vs. Washington: 5 total tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 2 QB hits.

vs. Philadelphia: 5 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumble.

Spencer added another sack in the team’s wildcard win over the Eagles, which still stands as the team’s only playoff win in the past 15 years. He even had a solid game in a loss to the Vikings, recording 9 tackles and a sack.

Fast-forward to 2011. Spencer has 6 sacks again this year, but none of them have come in the last three games. His most noteworthy play during that time was his complete whiff while trying to sack Michael Vick. Spencer wound up with Vick’s facemask on a key play that led to the Eagles’ first touchdown.

If teams knew they had to slow down both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, this is a dangerous defense. However, Ware is the only playmaker between the two, and when he doesn’t pressure the quarterback, there is not a good chance that anyone else will.

Sure, Jay Ratliff can get there from time to time, but he’s inconsistent. And it’s true that Spencer has coverage duties and doesn’t always rush the passer. However, there have been plenty of plays where the team has rushed both Ware and Spencer, and Spencer has come up short, even though he doesn’t receive anywhere near the focus that Ware does.

Plenty of things need to go right for the Cowboys to win on Sunday, but a sudden resurgence by Almost Anthony would be a good start.

Buddy Ryan’s Sons Are Certainly Living Up to the Family Name

We are entering Week 17 of “I still don’t understand that hype surrounding the Ryan brothers.”

Full Story »

History Only Makes Us Feel Better

Next Sunday’s game against the Giants is going to bring reminders of the 1993 finale in which the Cowboys won the NFC East and wrapped up home-field advantage by beating the Giants at the Meadowlands. The similarities—Giants, at New York, vs. Dallas, NFC East title on the line. Nothing else is similar.

Full Story »

Philadelphia 20, Dallas 7: Our Big Lump of Coal

The Cowboys had nothing to gain by beating the Eagles and played like the game was meaningless in a 20-7 loss.

Full Story »

Cowboys-Eagles Storyline

The Cowboys could clinch the NFC East with a win over the Eagles.

Full Story »

Dallas Cowboys Aren’t America’s Team? Come Up with Something Original, Please

In what has become an annual ritual, another writer proclaims that a team other than the Cowboys is truly “America’s Team.” What an original idea.

Full Story »

Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly from December 21, 1985

Randy White made the cover of the December 21, 1985 issue of Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly.

Full Story »

Some Trivia from the Dallas Cowboys Christmas ’86 Video

See an article published 25 years ago today about the infamous Dallas Cowboys Christmas video.

Full Story »

Jason Witten Continues to Move Up on Stat Rankings

Jason Witten is 151 yards away from his fourth career and third consecutive 1,000-yard season. His receptions have dropped off this year, but he is still on pace to record at least 80 this season. He currently has 68.

Full Story »

Connect

newsletter software
Get Adobe Flash player