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Dallas Cowboys’ 2008 Draft Class Is Nearly Gone

Felix Jones will likely leave the Cowboys via free agency.

Felix Jones will likely leave the Cowboys via free agency.

The Dallas Cowboys have won a single playoff game between 1997 and right now. That occurred in 2009 when the team beat the visiting Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs.

Members of the 2008 draft class were rather prominent in the victory.

Felix Jones (1st round in 2008) carried the ball 16 times for 148 yards and helped to put the game on ice with a 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Tashard Choice (4th round in 2008) helped in the effort, carrying the ball 14 times for 42 yards with a touchdown.

The other first-round pick from 2008, Mike Jenkins, recorded an interception.

Martellus Bennett (2nd round in 2008) and Orlando Scandrick (5th round) weren’t as prominent in the 2009 playoffs, but both of the played roles.

Now it’s 2013. Choice and Bennett have been gone for some time.

Sixth-round pick Erik Walden never played a down in Dallas but became a starter in Green Bay.

Now it looks like Jones and Jenkins will leave the team via free agency. They are among five free agents the Cowboys will likely lose according to the Dallas Morning News.

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Dallas 38, Philadelphia 23: It Must Be November

Felix Jones found the end zone for the third time in 2012.

Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback in Dallas during six of the last seven months of November (he was injured in 2010). Heading into Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, Romo had a record of 19-4 during those November games.

Romo played a good part of his 24th November game on his back, thanks to an offensive line that could not give Romo more than three seconds to get rid of the ball. The defense wasn’t helping, thanks to a number of penalties on third downs.

Nevertheless, the Cowboys knocked Michael Vick out the game and held a 10-7 lead at the half.

The Cowboys went three and out to open the second half, however, and rookie QB Nick Foles drove the Eagles into Dallas territory. On 1st and 20, Foles threw a pass into the end zone to a wide open Jeremy Maclin. The touchdown gave Philadelphia its first lead of the game.

The Cowboys went three and out again.

The Eagles drove down and added a field goal.

Philadelphia 17, Dallas 10, and it looked like the story for the game would be an obituary for the season.

With 2:14 left in the the third quarter, Dallas faced a 3rd and 5. Romo once again did not have time to throw the ball. However, he maneuvered in the pocket and bought enough time to find Miles Austin on a 25-yard reception. Three plays later, Romo hit Dez Bryant in the end zone on a deep post. Replay officials confirmed that the play was a touchdown.

No more obituary. From that point, the Cowboys took control.

Former Cowboy Mat McBriar punted with just under 14 minutes left in the game. Dwayne Harris headed towards the left sideline and found a lane. He raced 78 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys the lead once again.

On the next Eagle drive, Brandon Carr picked off a pass that bounced off the foot of DeSean Jackson. Carr returned the pick for another score. Suddenly, it was Dallas 31, Philadelphia 17.

Philadelphia managed to score with just under two minutes left, but Alex Henery missed the extra point. The Eagles held the Cowboys and got the ball back at their own 11 with 53 seconds remaining.

But there was no magic finish for the Eagles. Anthony Spencer sacked Foles and stripped the ball. Jason Hatcher recovered the fumble in the end zone, giving Dallas its third touchdown on defense or special teams in the fourth quarter alone.

The game did not start out especially well for the Dallas defense. Two encroachment penalties gave the Eagles first downs, and Riley Cooper made a great catch in the end zone to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.

The Cowboys came right back, though, driving 80 yards on 13 plays. Felix Jones took a short pass 11 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.

Both offenses struggled for much of the first half. Romo’s 49-yard pass to Dez Bryant with six minutes left in the second quarter helped to set up a field goal that gave the Cowboys their 10-7 halftime lead.

The Cowboys had good fortune earlier in the day as well. The Giants lost to the Bengals, giving New York a 6-4 record. If Dallas beat Cleveland next week, the Cowboys will be just one game out in the NFC East.


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Baltimore 31, Dallas 28: Showing Heart, but Few Brains

Felix Jones rushed 18 times for 92 yards and a touchdown after DeMarco Murray was injured against the Ravens on Sunday.

The Cowboys had plenty of chances to quit on Sunday against the Ravens. After all, the team trailed 31-23 after Baltimore scored with 4:41 remaining.

Dallas then went on a drive that was equal parts epic and boneheaded. The Cowboys committed four penalties (even if a chop block call on Felix Jones was nonsense). At one point, Dallas faced a 3rd-and-27 play.

Yet somehow, the Cowboys found ways to convert  two third downs and two fourth downs on what turned out to be an 18-play, 81-yard drive. Dez Bryant capped off a great day by catching a four-yard touchdown pass to pull Dallas to within two.

Then Dez immediately assumed the role of goat when Romo’s pass on the two-point attempt bounced right off Bryant’s hands.

But the game wasn’t over. Dan Bailey hit an onside kick up the middle instead of to the sideline, and Andre Holmes recovered.

More luck: On the first play after the recovery, Chykie Brown was called for interference on a pass attempt to Kevin Ogletree, giving Dallas the ball at the Baltimore 34. There were 26 seconds left, and Dallas still had a timeout. Plenty of time for…

One play? For one yard?

Yep. When Romo threw a slant to Bryant, the play gained a yard. The offense tried to organize to do something, but nothing happened. It looked as if neither Romo nor Garrett knew what they were supposed to do. (And I’m not the only one who thinks that.)

Instead, the Cowboys settled for a 51-yard field goal attempt. Bailey had not attempted one from that far this year.

And, of course, he missed. The audience saw a shot of Jason Garrett smiling. The pregnant Rob Ryan shouted something I won’t write on here. Romo pouted. Bryant received consolation.

Dallas is now 2-3. As the time of this writing, the Eagles had fallen to 3-3, and the Giants and Redskins were still playing. It is very possible the Cowboys could wind up in last place after today’s action.

Throughout the game, the Dallas offense rarely snapped the ball with more than three seconds left on the play clock. Few have offered solid reasons why the team has to check off so much while running the risk of delay-of-game or other penalties.

Nevertheless, the team showed heart. Felix Jones scored his first touchdown since the beginning of the 2011 season. The defense mostly shut down the Ravens offense in the second half.

But the same mistakes that have haunted the Cowboys, and it’s past time to question decision-making across the board.

Doug Free can’t go a game without a penalty. Tyron Smith doesn’t seem to understand what he is required to do to avoid holding penalties. As a team, the Cowboys committed 13 penalties for 82 yards. That gives Dallas a total of 46 penalties in five games.

The kickoff coverage team that was so bad in 2010 allowed a 108-yard kickoff return to Jacoby Jones. That occurred when Dallas had cut the Baltimore lead to 17-13 in the third quarter.

On top of that, the Cowboys were called for both pass interference and for having 12 men on the field on a play where Torrey Smith scored late in the second quarter.

* * *

The biggest positive was the rushing attack. Even after DeMarco Murray left the game with a foot injury, Jones, Philip Tanner, and Lance Dunbar had some nice runs.  As a team, the Cowboys rushed 42 times for 227 yards.

On the other hand, Kevin Ogletree is showing he isn’t close to a solid #3 receiver. He was targeted four times but did not manage a single reception. He didn’t come close to catching the pass when Brown interfered with him late in the game.

Dallas will travel to Carolina next Sunday.

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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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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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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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Dallas Cowboys Jersey Numbers: Updates for Nos. 26 through 30

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Running back DeMar...
DeMarco Murray may already be the greatest player to wear #29 for the Dallas Cowboys.

This is another update to the greatest Dallas Cowboys by their jersey numbers. This entry focuses on numbers 26 through 30.


Cornerback Kevin Smith was the greatest player to wear #26 according to the 2008 poll. Nobody has come along to take that title from him.

Abram Elam changed from #24 to #26 before the start of last season. He had also worn #37 during his first stop in Dallas in 2006.


Ron Fellows remains the greatest to wear #27. Cornerback Cletis Gordon wore the number when he played in one game in 2009. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah wore #27 when he played in 2010. He played briefly for Jacksonville before returning to Dallas in 2011 and wore #11. He is listed as #26 for 2012, assuming he makes the team.


Darren Woodson received 99% of the votes as the greatest #28. Running back Felix Jones has worn the number since 2008, but he is most certainly not better than Woodson.


In just one season, DeMarco Murray became the toast of the town by rushing for 897 yards. Kenneth Gant received the most votes in 2008, but Murray could overtake Gant with another solid performance in 2012.


The only player to wear #30 since 2008 was backup running back Chauncey Washington. He will not overtake Dan Reeves for this jersey number.

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