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The Dallas Cowboys have a new Demarcus on their defensive line.
Needing to upgrade the worst defense in the NFL last year, Dallas traded its second- and third-round picks this year to Washington to move up 13 spots in the second round to take Lawrence.
The video below provides a good review of Lawrence. Here are the pros and cons:
- Has not missed playing time in two years.
- Career at Boise State: 20 sacks, 7 forced fumbles
- Plays with leverage
- Is always around the ball
- Has natural pass-rush ability
- Served three one-game suspensions for off-the-field issues
- Can lose containment because he is overly aggressive
- Is somewhat small for a DE
Bottom Line (from NFL.com):
A loose, explosive, long-limbed athlete, Lawrence consistently pressurizes the edge and harasses quarterbacks. His pass-rushing ability rates among the best in this year’s class, and he holds mass appeal. Lacks ideal stoutness at the point of attack, but could thrive as a 4-3 right end or 3-4 rush linebacker, and should contribute readily on passing downs.
Below is a crossword puzzle focusing on the Cowboys’ possible selections with the #16 overall pick in the NFL draft.
Below are the possible hints (the puzzle changes each time you play). You can identify the players by reviewing the hints and then visiting the 2014 NFL Draft Tracker.
DT, Florida State
DT, Notre Dame
DE, Oregon State
DT, Notre Dame
In 2014, the Dallas Cowboys must replace a team legend by finding someone to fill DeMarcus Ware’s role. Ware was, of course, the team’s best defensive player for nine seasons.
In 1975, the Cowboys faced a somewhat similar problem, having to replace defensive tackle Bob Lilly, who had retired. Dallas had the second overall pick in the draft and selected Randy White of Maryland.
White accomplished a few things in Dallas, earning Super Bowl MVP honors and becoming a member of the Hall of Fame.
Here’s a trivia question, answered in the photo puzzle below: what number did White wear at Maryland?
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Here’s another picture of White before he joined the Cowboys. He is playing with the College All-Stars against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I took a moment to hide the first number.
The news today is that DeMarcus Ware signed a three-year contract with the Denver Broncos. Ware thus joins a fairly short list of Dallas players who have eventually migrated to Denver.
Some relevant trivia:
- The first noteworthy Dallas player to join the Broncos was Craig Morton, who led Denver to the Super Bowl after joining the team in 1977.
- Of course, former Cowboy running back Dan Reeves became the Broncos’ head coach in 1981, and two of his assistants—Wade Phillips and Chan Gailey—later became head coaches in Dallas.
- Former Dallas defensive back Charlie Waters was the Broncos’ defensive coordinator under Phillips in 1993 and 1994.
- Ware is the highest-profile Dallas player to become a member of the Broncos via either trade or free agency since Tony Dorsett’s trade to Denver in 1988.
- And for trivia that is beside the point—What did the Cowboys get for Dorsett? A conditional fifth-round pick. The selection? Defensive tackle Jeff Roth of Florida. He never played a game in the NFL.
- As for Ware, he was scheduled to make $12.25 million with Dallas but will now make $13 million in Denver. Makes sense.
Now some trivia questions:
Two defensive linemen for the Cowboys during the 1990s joined the Broncos as free agents in the early 2000s. Who were they?
The scratch-off card below reveals the answer.
Orkut Scrap Toys
The 2013 marks just the fourth time in franchise history that the Cowboys have begun a season at 7-7. The three previous seasons were 1965, 1986, and 1999.
None of those seasons was memorable. However, each was noteworthy in the context of franchise history, as may the 2013 season. Below are some comparisons.
What happened in 1965? Dallas had suffered through five straight losing seasons and began the 1965 season with a 4-7 record. The worst loss was a 34-31 defeat to the Washington Redskins in a game where the Cowboys led 24-6 in the third quarter and 31-20 in the fourth quarter. However, Dallas did not lose another game during the regular season and finished with a non-losing record for the first time in franchise history.
What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys became contenders one year later, going 10-3-1 and facing the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game. Dallas would not suffer through a losing season for another 20 years.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1965 Cowboys? The 1965 squad featured a strong core of younger players reaching their prime. This group included Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Hayes, Cornell Green, and so forth. The 2013 squad has young talent as well in the form of Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, and so forth. The team suffered through bad losses similar to the defeat to the Redskins in 1965, but the current Cowboys usually display resiliency.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1965 Cowboys? By 1965, Gil Brandt had begun to set himself apart among other head scouts. The 1964 draft for the Cowboys was one of the very best in franchise history, and the direct result was the team’s immediate improvement. In contrast, the Cowboys have had some mediocre-to-poor drafts during the past several seasons. Lee and Bruce Carter are frequently injured, and Bryant has not shown much leadership. Moreover, Jason Garrett has not proven he can manage a game effectively as a head coach, which is something Tom Landry started to prove after 1965. Hard to believe this current team would have 20 straight winning seasons.
The Cowboys technically made their first playoff appearance after the 1965 season, facing the Baltimore Colts in the Playoff Bowl. This game featured the second-place teams from each conference and was known as the Loser Bowl. Dallas lost 35-3.
What happened in 1986? The Cowboys began the 1986 season with a 6-2 record and looked like a playoff team. Then Danny White broke his wrist in a game against the Giants, and the Cowboys could only manage one win over their last eight games. The 7-9 record marked the first losing season for the franchise since 1964.
What happened in the seasons that followed? Two years later, the Cowboys were the worst team in the NFL. Tom Landry was fired in 1989 after the team posted a 3-13 record and Jerry Jones bought the team from Bum Bright.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1986 Cowboys? The 1986 Cowboys had star power in the form of Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Randy White, Danny White, and some other recognizable names. However, the team had drafted poorly for most of the 1980s, and the team simply had no depth at most positions. The current team has likewise suffered from poor drafting. Though the Cowboys have star players, they also lack depth in most key positions. The Cowboys do not have enough talent across the board to suffer losses at key positions. The injuries this year have contributed heavily to the team having the worst defense in franchise history.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1986 Cowboys? The Cowboys have more young talent than the 1986 team had. The Cowboys lost receiver Mike Sherrard to serious injuries in 1987 and 1988, and the team had to start over again at the receiver spot. The lone star by 1988 was Walker. The current team has Bryant and Murray along with some other talented skills players. Moreover, the current team operates during the free-agent era, whereas the league did not have Plan B free agency until 1989. The Cowboys could find free agent talent to replace aging or injured stars faster than the team of the late 1980s could.
My opinion: the best thing to happen to Jerry Jones would be the worst thing to happen to Cowboys’ fans, and that would be a disastrous season (like the 3-13 season of 1988). Why? Because Jerry would have little choice but to accept that the way he has operated the franchise is not going to lead to another Super Bowl appearance in the foreseeable future.
What happened in 1999? The Cowboys jumped out of the gate with a 3-0 start. However, once the Cowboys lost Michael Irvin to a career-ending neck injury, the team struggled. Dallas led in every game of the season but could only manage an 8-8 finish. The team luckily made it into the playoffs but lost to Minnesota in a forgettable game.
What happened in the seasons that followed? The Cowboys suffered through salary-cap hell along with some bad personnel decisions. Head coach Dave Campo saw his team record three consecutive 5-11 seasons between 2000 and 2002.
Why could the 2013 Cowboys be like the 1999 Cowboys? The current team has suffered from being in salary-cap hell and bad personnel decisions. Even dedicated fans would have a difficult time naming the guys playing defense in 2013, and the Cowboys will have limited ability to address weaknesses on defense because of more cap problems in 2014. Falling from 8-8 to 5-11 is not hard to imagine.
Why might the Cowboys have a different future than the 1999 Cowboys? In 1999, Jerry was still hanging on to the idea that the franchise could return to glory with just a few missing pieces, such as a good second receiver or a good defensive end. The cornerstones of the dynasty, though, had little left in the tank, and once they were gone, the team had to start over again. The current squad is not in such a dire position. Tony Romo is playing better now than Troy Aikman was in 1999 and 2000. The team might lose DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, along with some others, over the next couple of years, but it does not appear the team will face such a precipitous drop in talent that the team experienced in 2000 and 2001.
The Eagles entered Sunday’s game with the third-rated offense in the NFL, averaging more than 451 yards per game. Meanwhile, both the Cowboys and Eagles ranked among the bottom five defenses.
It was no wonder the over/under for the game was 54.5. Some might have thought one of the teams could score 55 points by itself.
Instead, it took nearly 27 minutes before either team scored a point.
Combined, the teams had averaged 58.2 points per game through six weeks. On Sunday, the teams combined for a total of 20 in a 17-3 Dallas win.
The Dallas defense was going to have to find a way to stop Philadelphia QB Nick Foles, who had been on fire.
By the time the defense knocked Foles from the game at the end of the third quarter, Dallas had a 10-0 lead. A 9-yard touchdown from Tony Romo to Terrance Williams in the fourth quarter iced the game for the Cowboys, who took a one-game lead in the NFC East and now has a 3-0 record in the division.
The Cowboys’ defensive line should have been pitiful without DeMarcus Ware, who missed a game for the first time in his career. The only Dallas defensive lineman with a recognizable name was Jason Hatcher.
Nevertheless, guys like George Selvie (1.5 sacks) and Jarius Wynn (0.5 sacks) made the stat line. Foles only managed 80 passing yards in 3 quarters before suffering a head injury.
Rookie Matt Barkley saw his first NFL action in a regular-season game, but he threw 3 interceptions.
LeSean McCoy had averaged more than 100 yards per game in six previous games. Against Dallas, he only managed 55 rushing yards, including just 12 yards in 8 carries in the first half.
The defense that gave up 51 points to the Broncos just two weeks ago has held two division opponents to a combined total of 19 points in 2 weeks.
We can hope the can’t-stop-anyone defense will rest in peace.
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The radio team of Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg complained several times that the Cowboys were not willing to run the football.
Playing with rookie Joseph Randle instead of DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys ran the ball 12 times for 38 yards in the first half. Randle had 10 carries for 34 yards, which was not great but was better than McCoy’s 12 yards at halftime.
Randle finished the game with 65 yards on 19 carries. He had more rushing attempts than Murray has had since week 3, when Murray ran 26 times for 175 yards.
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It would seem like the 2013 season includes a quiet farewell to Miles Austin.
He has not caught a pass since the team’s week 3 against the Rams, when he injured his hamstring yet again.
He has played in two consecutive games but has not caught a pass.
Meanwhile, Williams and Cole Beasley have looked very good. They combined for 12 receptions for 124 yards against the Eagles.
Releasing Austin after this season will not be a painless process, though. The Cowboys are reportedly going to be $31 million over the salary cap after this season, and Austin’s large salary does not help matters. He restructured his contract after the 2012 season to help with the salary cap, but releasing him would give the Cowboys more than $10 million in dead money from his salary alone.
* * *
The last time the Cowboys held a team to 3 or fewer points was during the final week of the 2009 season, when the Cowboys shut out the Eagles 24-0 to win the NFC East.
It looks as if DeMarcus Ware will miss as many as four games with a quad injury. Assuming he misses Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, it will be the first time he has missed a game during his career.
That means the last time that the Cowboys played a game without Ware was the season finale in 2004 against the Giants.
Dallas had a 16-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Julius Jones ran all over the Giants for 149 yards, while Jason Witten caught 8 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown from Vinny Testaverde.
However, the Cowboys could not hold the lead, giving up three fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 28-24 loss. Dallas finished the season with a 6-10 record.
Somehow think that Ware has not yet had a relatively long career? Here were the defensive starters during that season finale:
LE Greg Ellis
LDT Leonardo Carson
RDT La’Roi Glover
RE Marcellus Wiley
LLB Al Singleton
MLB Dat Nguyen
RLB Dexter Coakley
LCB Terence Newman
RCB Lance Frazier
SS Lynn Scott
FS Roy Williams
Newman was in his second season. He and Kenyon Coleman are the only defensive players from 2004 who are still active in 2013.
This post comes a day late after the Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 31-16 on Sunday night. The win gave the Cowboys a 3-3 record and a tie for the lead in the NFC East.
Tony Romo did not win (or lose) this game. Nor did DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, or even Sean Lee.
Instead, players coming up with big plays included the likes of Kyle Wilber and Cole Beasley. And the player with the biggest plays was returner Dwayne Harris.
Harris returned a punt 86 yards in the second quarter to give Dallas a 14-3 lead. He also returned a kickoff 90 yards in the third quarter to set up a touchdown pass from Romo to Terrance Williams.
Harris’ 222 combined return yards are the fourth most in team history behind Mel Renfro (273 vs. Green Bay in 1964); Felix Jones (247 vs. Philadelphia in 2008); and Reggie Swinton (224 vs. Denver in 2002).
The Redskins held Bryant to 5 receptions for 36 yards, and Austin did not catch a pass. However, Williams scored a big touchdown, and Beasley had 4 receptions for 44 yards. Three of those receptions came on a fourth-quarter drive that ended with a Dallas field goal.
The Cowboys were without Ware for much of the game due to a quad injury, but Wilber and George Selive were able to come up with a huge sack that caused a fumble in the fourth quarter. Wilbur recovered the fumble inside the Washington 5.
Following the recovery, Joseph Randle, who will likely start with Murray out due to injury, scored from 1 yard out to close out the scoring.
The defense gave up 433 yards but managed to record two key turnovers.
It is the third time this season that the Cowboys have held their opponents to less than 20 points. However, in three other games, opponents have scored 30 or more.
Four of the next five games for the Cowboys are on the road, so this win was absolutely necessary.
The list now appears as follows:
Harvey Martin, 114.0
Randy White, 111.0
Too Tall Jones, 106.0
George Andrie, 97.0
Of course, the numbers for the last four are unofficial stats kept by the team, given that the NFL did not count sacks as an official statistic until 1982. The official sack totals would appear as:
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Which player formerly held the official record for team sacks?
It was Jim Jeffcoat with 94.5.
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Ware’s first sack came against San Francisco on September 25, 2005. The quarterback was Tim Rattay.
* * *
Ware had 2.0 sacks against the Rams. It marked the 24th time that Ware had 2.0 or more sacks in a game.
* * *
DeMarco Murray and the offensive line had great games against the Rams.
If Murray only played against the Rams, Emmitt Smith might start worrying about his career rushing mark.
In two games against St. Louis, Murray has had 400 rushing yards on 51 carries. That’s 7.8 yards per carry and 200 yards per game.
In 24 games against everyone else, Murray has had 1446 rushing yards on 332 carries. That’s 4.4 yards per carry and 60.25 yards per game.
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The Cowboys now sit alone in first place in the NFC East with a 2-1 record.
The last time the Cowboys had sole possession of the division was not as long ago as it may seem. In 2011, the Cowboys improved their record to 7-4 with a win over Miami and held first place for two weeks. However, the 7-5 Cowboys lost to the 6-6 Giants at home, and the Cowboys lost again to the Giants in the season finale to lose a chance to make the playoffs.
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.
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
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
QB, 1st Team: Roger Staubach, 1970-1979
S, 2nd Team: Cliff Harris, 1970-1979
RB, 2nd Team: Tony Dorsett, 1980-1987
DE, 1st Team: Too Tall Jones, 1980-1989
DT, 1st Team: Randy White, 1980-1988
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
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