Friday Fun: Ring of Honor Member Drew Pearson Jigsaw Puzzle

Below is a puzzle featuring a picture of one of the newest members of the Ring of Honor, Drew Pearson.

The picture was taken during a game against Atlanta. Can you guess the year? If so, what was the final score of this game?

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Pearson, Allen, and Haley Make the Ring of Honor

The three newest members of the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor: Drew Pearson, Charles Haley, and Larry Allen

The Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s would have had quite a different story were it not for Drew Pearson, and his induction into the Ring of Honor is long overdue. The wait is over for him, fortunately, now that Jerry Jones announced Pearson’s induction today.

There have been a bunch of other names thrown around as potential inductees, including Harvey Martin, Too Tall Jones, Charlie Waters, Darren Woodson, Daryl Johnston, Bill Bates, and so forth.

The second name added today was also among the names commonly thrown around. Larry Allen made the All-Decade teams for both the 1990s and 2000s, and I don’t think anyone would question that Allen is the best lineman in team history.

The third is a bit of head-scratcher. Haley was instrumental to the team’s success during the 1990s. Nevertheless, it’s hard to say that he meant more to this franchise than Martin (Super Bowl XII co-MVP and member of the All-Decade Team of the 1970s) or Jones (15 years in Dallas compared with 5 for Haley).

In any case, Pearson’s selection alone means that Jerry got this one right no matter whether we agree with the other selections. It’s a good day.

Wednesday’s What If…? Cowboys Hire Norv Turner (2007)

Weeks after losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round of the playoffs in January 2007, Bill Parcells resigned as head coach. The Cowboys spent several weeks tossing the names of different coordinators around to find replacement.

What if on February 7, 2007, Jerry Jones acquiesced to Troy Aikman and hired the team’s former offensive coordinator, Norv Turner?

Cowboy fans want nothing less than a Super Bowl title. Down seasons in recent years have been unacceptable, given the level of talent assembled.

In real life, Turner led the Chargers to an 11-5 during his first year in San Diego, and the Chargers made it to the AFC Championship Game. However, since that season, the Chargers have won just one playoff game, and that came after the team snuck into the playoffs win an 8-8 record in 2008.

Imagine that sort of finish in Dallas. An 11-5 record and two playoff wins would have been most welcome in 2007, given that not even Bill Parcells won a playoff game here.

But expectations would have been sky high in 2008 (as they were in real life). Think the Cowboys’ 9-7 record in 2008 was bad? It was better than the Chargers’ 8-8 finish that season.

Recall Wade Phillips’ biggest failure—watching his 13-3 team fall apart to a New York team in the playoffs at home in 2007?

Turner’s Chargers in 2009 managed to finish with a 13-3 record before falling apart to a New York team in the playoffs at home.

Turner’s Chargers followed that up by going 9-7 and missing the playoffs in 2010, which sound quite similar to the Cowboys’ finish in 2008.

The bottom line is that Tony Romo and the Dallas offense would not likely be much better under Turner than it has under Jason Garrett. Both the Cowboys and the Chargers have ranked in the top half of the league in offensive yards. Philips Rivers has developed at a similar pace compared with Tony Romo, though Romo has suffered more injuries.

The Cowboys would have to find a different defensive coordinator, and perhaps Turner’s fate would have depended on who the Cowboys could bring in as a defensive coordinator.

Ron Rivera? Mike Singletary?

Anyway, my bet is that Turner would not have lasted past season #4 in 2010.

Tuesday Trivia: Bill Parcells’ Last Preseason in Dallas (2006)

Most had expected Bill Parcells to turn the Cowboys into contenders by 2005. However, the team had made the playoffs only once under Parcells, and the 2006 squad got off to a shaky start during preseason. Here are five questions about that preseason.

Most of the news about the 2006 training camp focused on the Cowboys' signing of Terrell Owens. What were the terms of his contract?

Terrell Owens suffered an injury during training camp in 2006. What did he injure?

One of the 2005 draft choices had to retire because could not recover from a knee injury. Who?

The Cowboys signed kicker Mike Vanderjagt in 2006, but he suffered through injuries during training camp. Who handled kickoffs during preseason games?

The Cowboys had a chance to go undefeated in the preseason but ended up tying the Minnesota Vikings. When was the last time the Cowboys went unbeaten during the preseason?

Dallas Cowboys Forum Opinions

Used to do this a few years ago and decided to start up again. Below are a few thoughts presented by fans in the various Cowboys forums.

Schmoopy at Dallas Cowboy Fans United notes that Tony Romo has been on fire during camp:

Tony Romo has reportedly been “on fire” over the last five days at Cowboys training camp.

Romo said earlier in camp that he’s “throwing the ball as well as he ever had in his career,” and he’s tearing it up in scrimmages and practices. With two No. 1-caliber wide receivers and the best all-around tight end in football as his weapons, Romo is setup for a huge year. Before his injury-ruined 2010 campaign, Romo had three straight seasons of top-nine fantasy QB stats.

couchcoach at True Blue Fan Club thinks that Jason Garrett’s playcalling is still suspicious:

…Garrett’s play calling [is] suspect.  And I remember some posters supposing he might make a better HC than OC.  I believe the thinking was let’s promote him and get another OC.  But, therein lies the rub.  He’s both and answers to himself.

And now he’s got his favorite toy back and a bunch of good receivers.

I know it’s early and we haven’t played our first one yet but don’t you have a little nagging thought rolling around in there about his playcalling?  I sure do and now that he answers to himself, think anyone is going to point out those RBs can run the ball as well as catch it?

CrazyCowboy at Cowboyszone noted that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan complimented cornerback-turned-safety-turned-cornerback Alan Ball:

Can you believe Rob Ryan said this?

Ball, who started at free safety last year, has impressed defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

“He looks like a natural out there,” Ryan said of Ball, who had an interception against Denver wiped out because of a penalty

I know, Ball is not playing safety but, I was convinced that Ball would be cut from the team.

Guess I will need to eat some CROW, as I was dead wrong about Ball.

Anyone feel the same?

darthseinfeld at likes what he sees from this year’s draft class:

I know its very early to judge, but so far the 2010 rookie class is looking strong with Smith having a solid start to preseason and some late picks fighting for big roles already. Lets have a look at what we have

Tyron Smith- Has looked good so far at RT

Bruce Carter- We’ll have to wait on this

Demarco Murray- Ditto

David Arkin- Could very well be a day 1 starter.

Josh Thomas- Could start the season as the NCB (until Newman comes back)

Dwayne Harris- Could start the season as the #3 WR

Shaun Chappas- A possible starter at FB

Bill Nagy- very strong contender to make the 53. Going to get some work at OG

A recent post from a relatively new Cowboys site called Cowboy Sports Blog notes that several starters could lose their positions during the season. This includes Montrae Holland (to Phil Costa), Chris Gronkowski (to John Phillips), Marcus Spears (to Kenyon Coleman), Keith Brooking (to Sean Lee), Igor Olshansky (to Jason Hatcher), and David Buehler (to someone). Perhaps the most interesting conversation focuses on whether Victor Butler may start over Anthony Spencer:

It’s never a good idea to hop on player bandwagons but Butler is the real deal. Every time he has played for extended periods, he has produced. In only 1 start over two years, Butler matched Spencer’s sack total over his last 16 starts. Spencer is going into a contract year. If it’s clear that he’s not getting the job done early, Butler should be groomed as his replacement. In just one preseason game Butler has confirmed what many already assumed. He’s a darn good football player. He recorded 5 tackles, 1 for a loss, he helped on a sack, and made a tackle from the nose tackle position.

Some random predictions about the Cowboys’ record in 2011 at the Dallas Cowboys Forum at 10-6, 8-8, 9-7, 7-9. That about covers it.


It Happened Then (1986): Herschel Walker Joins Cowboys Amid Fanfare, Controversy

The 1985 Dallas Cowboys were probably the most overachieving squad in franchise history. The team relied heavily on its aging veterans of Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Danny White, and so forth, along with an opportunistic defense. However, the team had not brought in solid talent from the draft in several years.

Enter Herschel Walker, whom the Cowboys had taken in the fifth round of the 1985 draft with an eye toward the future. On August 7, 1986, Walker announced that he would leave the USFL and join the Cowboys.

Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News wrote that by signing the 24-year-old Walker, “the Cowboys’ sixth Super Bowl appearance probably drew one step closer.”

More facetiously, Skip Bayless of the Dallas Times Herald announced:

Trumpets, please. On Monday, Aug. 18, 1986 A.D. (After Dorsett?), Herschel Walker first practiced with the Dallas Cowboys.

Someday, ninth-graders will have to know the date for a U.S. history pop quiz. Question 1: When was the Declaration of Independence signed? 2. When was Pearl Harbor bombed? 3. When did Herschel Walker first practice with America’s Team?

Someday, some ninth-grader will answer that Herschel signed the Declaration at Pearl Harbor.

(I didn’t know who Skip Bayless was then. I would have hated him just as much as I do now).

Dorsett was schedule to make less than $500,000 in 1986. Walker signed a five-year deal worth $5 million. After Dorsett criticized the signing initially, most thought the two would have trouble sharing the same backfield.

Walker gained 2,411 yards in an 18-game schedule with the New Jersey Generals in 1985. However, it took him longer to get going in Dallas. He rushed for only 737 yards (compared with Dorsett’s 748), though Walker added a career-high 12 rushing touchdowns. Walker also led the team with 837 receiving yards.

The clip below shows some great highlights. It’s somehow easy to forget how good this guy was.

Career Statistical Milestones: Jason Witten

Tight end Jason Witten has been one of the most consistent performers in team history since he joined the Cowboys in 2003. He became a full-time starter in 2004, and since then he has never had fewer than 64 receptions or less than 754 receiving yards in a season. He has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark three out of the last four seasons.

Heading into the 2011 season, Witten trails Michael Irvin for most career receptions by 133. If Witten has typical seasons in 2011 and 2012, he will surpass Irvin sometime next year.

He is not likely to catch Irvin in terms of receiving yards, but by gaining 1,022 yards in 2011, Witten will move into the #2 slot. With 6,967 yards, he trails Irvin (11,904), Tony Hill (7,988), Drew Pearson (7,822), and Bob Hayes (7,295) in receiving yards.

Witten is pretty far behind the pack in receiving touchdowns. However, with three touchdowns he will pass up Terrell Owens (38), and with six touchdowns Witten will pass up Billy Joe DuPree (41).

Below is a list of the top 50 Dallas receivers according to career receptions.

Friday Fun: Preseason Roster Numbers

Complete the puzzle below by matching new members of the Dallas Cowboys (at least during training camp) and their tentative jersey numbers.

Dallas Cowboys Preseason RosterD crossword puzzle game » crossword creator

Dallas 24, Denver 23: Now There’s Some Speed

Rookie Dwayne Harris caught two touchdown passes, including this 76-yarder in the fourth quarter.

With 31 seconds remaining in the Cowboys’ first preseason game against Denver, third-string quarterback Stephen McGee was dragged down for a sack and an eight-yard loss. The Cowboys trailed 23-16 and faced a fourth-and-goal from the 13.

On the fourth-down play, McGee lobbed a pass to the middle of the end zone, where rookie Dwayne Harris brought pass down for a touchdown. It cut the Denver lead to 23-22, and the Cowboys decided to go for two rather than settle for the tie. McGee gave Dallas the win when he rolled to his right and found fourth-year tight end Martin Rucker in the end zone.

The Cowboys first-and second-stringers did little to impress, but the younger players showed promise later in the game.

Harris was the most impressive, showing some serious speed. He took a short pass from McGee earlier in the fourth quarter and sprinted past everyone for a 76-yard touchdown.

Another promising rookie, Raymond Radway, also had a touchdown reception. However, he had some trouble on a few routes, and his touchdown reception was his only catch.

The most significant rookie was tackle Tyron Smith, who started at right tackle and played throughout the first half. He provided good protection for the most part, though it is hard to gauge his overall performance because the Denver starters were out after one series.

One big disappointment came in the running game. Lonyae Miller was suppose to challenge Tashard Choice for a roster spot, but Miller only managed 11 yards on 9 carries. Rookie Philip Tanner looked better, showing  a burst and gaining 44 yards on 9 carries.

Defensively, Victor Butler was impressive throughout the first half. On one play, he took on a double team while rushing Denver QB Tim Tebow. Although Tebow broke through to scramble, Butler ran him down from behind. Butler also had a tackle for a loss and nearly had a sack.

The Dallas secondary has suffered through a number of injuries, and Denver had some success through the air. The Denver starters also had a relatively easy time running the ball against the Dallas starters. Denver opened the game with a 13-play drive, and Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee combined for 40 rushing yards on only six attempts. Denver had to settle for a field goal on its opening drive, though, giving the Broncos a 3-0 lead.

The Dallas starters answered by driving 56 yards. The biggest play was a screen pass from Tony Romo to Felix Jones that went for 16 yards. Dallas will apparently use its more athletic offensive line to feature more screen passes this season.

Denver led 9-3 at the half, as both Jon Kitna and McGee had trouble moving the Cowboys consistently. McGee gave Dallas a 10-9 lead in the third quarter by driving the team 64 yards, capped off by the touchdown pass to Radway.

Denver answered early in the fourth on a touchdown run by Jeremiah Johnson, but Harris’ long catch-and-run allowed Dallas to answer. However, long snapper Cory Adams’ snap was off-target on the extra point, and kicker Dan Bailey was unable to give the Cowboys a lead because the Cowboys had to abort the attempt.

Wednesday’s What If…? Jerry Fails to Sign Deion in 1995

Deion SandersThe one player who might have stood between the Dallas Cowboys and their third consecutive Super Bowl title in 1994 was cornerback Deion Sanders. “Prime Time” played in 14 games in San Francisco, and he turned in one of the dominant defensive performances in NFL history by picking off six passes and returning three of them for touchdowns.

In 1995, Dallas owner Jerry Jones wanted to bring in Deion, and the team had a more definite need for the star when Dallas corner Kevin Smith went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.

You know what happened. However, what if history had been a bit different and the Cowboys had to finish the 1995 season without Sanders?

Both the Cowboys and 49ers pursued Sanders in 1995. The third team in the mix was the Denver Broncos, and at one point, newspapers in Denver had reported that the Broncos had a good chance to sign Sanders.

Many would say that the Cowboys would not have won Super Bowl XXX had they not signed Sanders. Without Smith, Dallas was stuck with Larry Brown and Clayton Holmes. Holmes only played in eight games in 1995 because he was suspended for drug use.

That would have left Alundis Brice and Charlie Williams to start for the Cowboys. It is possible that the Cowboys could have pulled off some other personnel move, but assume for now that the team would have stuck with Brice and Williams.

Dallas was 6-1 when the team went into its bye. By the time the NFL had suspended Holmes, Dallas was 8-1. However, the team had to face the 49ers on November 12 and had to face each of the four NFC East opponents in the final four weeks of the season.

Dallas, of course, lost to the 49ers, Eagles, and Redskins, even with Sanders. Deion may have been a factor against the Raiders, Chiefs, Giants, and Cardinals, but he wasn’t such a key difference-maker that the team could not have won without him.

Dallas needed a 12-4 record to earn home-field advantage in the 1995 playoffs. Could the Cowboys do it without Deion?

What record would the 1995 Cowboys have had without Deion Sanders?

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Sanders made a bigger splash in the playoffs—especially on offense. His 21-yard touchdown on a reverse gave Dallas a 10-3 lead against the Eagles in the divisional round, and had hauled in long passes against both the Packers and the Steelers in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl respectively.

Then again, even with Sanders playing for the Cowboys, Brett Favre managed to pass for more than 300 yards. And Dallas was not able to shut down either Andre Hastings or Ernie Mills in Super Bowl XXX. Perhaps all of the playoff teams would have moved the ball at will had Deion not lined up for the Cowboys, but it’s hard to say that Deion did anything specifically that put the Cowboys over the edge.

Of course, Dallas and the rest of the NFC would have had to deal with a 49ers team that had Deion, and that may be why history could have changed. With Sanders in 1994, the 49ers forced 10 turnovers in three playoff games. Without him in a loss to the Packers in 1995, San Francisco did not force a single turnover. Brett Favre had a passer rating of 132.9 in the 27-17 Packer win. One week later against Sanders and the Cowboys, Favre’s rating dropped to 84.0 thanks to two interceptions.

Thus, it is very possible that Sanders would have made enough of a difference to San Francisco that the 49ers might have would up with home-field advantage. There is also a good chance that the Cowboys would have had to beat San Francisco in the NFC title game.