Lee Roy Jordan

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Gil Brandt and Misjudging a Hall-of-Fame Linebacker (1982)

English: , Vice President of player personnel ...

Gil Brandt was Vice President of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988.

Nobody would seriously doubt how important Gil Brandt was to the development of the Dallas Cowboys as a consistent contender for more than two decades.

However, by the 1980s, Brandt’s magic was not what it was. Consider how the Cowboys approached the 1982 Draft.

Dallas had the 25th overall pick. Brandt referred to the draft as “unpredictable” that season, with player ratings varying greatly from team to team.

One player who stood out as a possible choice was Iowa linebacker Andre Tippett. However, Brandt apparently agreed with NFL scouts who thought that Tippett would not be able to grasp the Cowboys’ complicated defense.

Instead, the Cowboys took Kentucky State defensive back Rod Hill, who lasted two seasons in Dallas before leaving as one of the worst first-round busts in team history.

In the second round, Dallas took Yale linebacker Jeff Rohrer, who was presumably smart enough to master the team’s complicated defense.

Rohrer played six years in Dallas but hardly reminded anyone of Lee Roy Jordan.

How did Tippett do? Well, he went to the New England Patriots in the second round. He apparently figured out New England’s schemes, making the Pro Bowl five times. He was also elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008.

That is a bit better than Hill and Rohrer. The best player the Cowboys found that year was Notre Dame tackle Phil Pozderac. We can talk about him later…

The 1982 Draft did have one upside: the other name thrown around for the Cowboys was Arizona State tackle John Meyer. Brandt did not want to spend another high draft choice on an offensive lineman, having spent first-round picks on linemen in the 1979 (Robert Shaw) and 1981 (Howard Richards) drafts.

Meyer went to Pittsburgh in the second round but never played a down in the NFL. According to an Arizona State blog, the Steelers tried to convert him to defensive end, but his knees gave out on him.



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A Look Back to 1973: Cowboys Dominate Bengals in Their First Meeting

Cliff Harris returns a punt against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1973.

Though the Cincinnati Bengals became a franchise in 1968, the Dallas Cowboys did not face the new Cincinnati team until 1973. That was because the Bengals were part of the AFL until 1970, and the teams were in different conferences when the leagues merged in 1970.

The teams finally met on November 4, 1973 at Texas Stadium. It was Cincinnati head coach Paul Brown’s first visit to Dallas since he coached the Browns in 1962 and turned out to be his last visit to Dallas during his 25-year NFL career.

In 1962, his Browns lost in a 45-21 blowout to the Cowboys, who were two years removed from their inaugural year. In 1973, the Dallas team was two years removed from its first Super Bowl title, and the result of the game was another blowout win for the Cowboys.

The video highlights and story of the game are below. Interesting note: the loss to Dallas dropped the Bengals to 4-4. Nevertheless, the team rebounded with six consecutive wins to finish the season at 10-4. They made the playoffs but eventually lost to the Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins.

As for the Cowboys, they also finished at 10-4 and made it to the NFC championship game before losing to the Minnesota Vikings.



Doomsday Cuts Loose on Bengals


 By BOB ST. JOHN / The Dallas Morning News

Actually, it all started earlier in the week, though the records will show it ended very impressively for the Dallas Cowboys on a mostly gray Sunday afternoon at Texas Stadium.

“We started working with the right kind of attitude last Wednesday,” said middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, shortly after he’d made a tour of the Cowboys dressing room, shaking hands with every member of the team.

“Since we lost to Washington we really hadn’t had the consistent attitude and concentration. This week we made up our minds. We played well in practice. We were making interceptions and so that meant we were moving better. We felt the same thing would continue in the game.”

It did … in the game, Jordan intercepted three passes in the first period off the arm of Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson, ran one 31 yards for a touchdown and set up a score with anther one. These interceptions sent the Bengals reeling and they never really recovered as Dallas stormed off with an impressive 38-10 victory over a good team before a crowd of 54,944. There were 3,658 no shows.

So Dallas, perhaps, has turned the corner once again, heading for another playoff berth. Anyway, the Cowboys can do worse than remain a single game behind Washington in the NFC Eastern race and could move into a tie for the lead, should Pittsburgh top the Redskins on Monday night.

“We’ve got it started and we’re not going to do the same thing we did after beating the Giants a couple of weeks ago,” continued Jordan. “We were up for that one and then came back in practice the following week and let it get away. So the Eagles beat us. This time we’ll go back out there this week and keep it going.

“We’re not even thinking about a wild card berth. We’re going for the championship.”

The most impressive thing was the Cowboy defense, which did everything it had not been doing. What happened basically was that they had their collars loosened, Cowboy linemen were turned loose more, instead of reading so much and then rushing the passer. Thus there was more pressure than there had been since the Redskin game. And Dallas blitzed 7-3 times, very un-Cowboy like. Conservatism was thrown to the wind.

“They turned us loose, let us go and we went after them,” said cornerback Mel Renfro. “I hope we do it from now on.”

The Cowboy defense was so impressive that Dallas had such fine field positions on the Cincinnati 42, 17, 42, 44 and 7 yard lines. The Cowboy offense only had to go 42, 44, 55, and 7 yards for touchdowns.

“It wasn’t an offensive day,” said quarterback Roger Staubach, who had a fine personal day with 14 hits on 18 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. And he threw no interceptions, the thing that had killed Anderson … killed the Bengals. “Our defense just gave us great field position all day.

“Cincinnati has a fine defense and we needed everything we could get. I’d rate the Bengals on defense right up there next to Washington.”

Jordan first struck with Dallas leading 3-0 on Toni Fritsch’s 34-yard field goal and with neither team seeming able to move. But Anderson threw for wide receiver Chip Myers on the sideline and Lee Roy, whose man was blocking and didn’t go out, ran across field and picked off the throw, following practically the entire defensive entourage to the end zone. The second interception was tipped as free safety Cliff Harris crunched into tight end Bob Trumpy, causing him to cough up a ball he never had control of in the first place. Jordan got the third one by reaching up, one-handing it, and bringing it into control and setting up Dallas in TD business at the Cincy 42.

“On the first interception we blitzed,” said Lee Roy, “I just looked up and he was throwing a down-and-out. It was so hard I didn’t think I could hold it.”

“Jordan has range, experience and is a fine player,” said Anderson. “The first interception was very impressive because he ran a long way to get there. He just seemed to get to the right place at the right time. But that’s what it takes to make a good linebacker.”

Renfro and tackle Jethro Pugh combined to set up the final Cowboy TD. Renfro jarred running back Essex Johnson loose from the ball as Anderson, in trouble, dropped the football off to his back. Pugh picked up the ball and ran 30 yards in about 30 minutes to the Cincy seven, from which Dallas scored. Pugh has never scored a touchdown and was zooming in on the end zone but just couldn’t make it. “If it had been downhill I believe I’d have scored,” said Pugh.

The defense also held the Bengals out of the end zone on four downs from the Dallas four just before the half when a TD could have put them back into the game. Tackle Bob Lilly led two of the charges and Jordan, Pugh, Cole, Rodrigo Burnes and others stopped a final play from a half yard out.

Cincinnati got 10 points in the third period, the big one being much like big ones of recent weeks. Wide receiver Isaac Curtis got behind cornerback Charlie Waters and took a perfect throw for a 50-yard touchdown. A less than perfect throw and Waters of Harrison would have knocked it down.

Anderson was also not pressured on the bomb after faking play action. This was not what he became accustomed to during this day. He was trapped five times for 45 yards in losses. End Larry Cole got him twice and assisted tackle Bill Gregory on another trap, rookie end Harvey Martin banged him down once and Cornell Green got him on a safety blitz.

Cincinnati shut down Calvin Hill which was one of their prime purposes. Hill had a season low of just 39 yards on 16 carries and Dallas wasn’t able to run that well, netting 119 yards.

Split end Bobby Hayes and tight end Billy Joe DuPree each caught five passes, each scoring a touchdown as did flanker Mike Montgomery, taking a Staubach pass over the middle and racing 32 yards for a TD.

But there was a long one to Hayes. Staubach had been blitzed a great deal on this afternoon and this time he spotted it coming with the Cowboys at the Cincy 39. Roger called an audible, which meant Hayes streaked deep. Bobby ran between the two Bengal safeties and took the throw on his finger tips for six.

The specialty teams, a great source of embarrassment for Dallas in recent weeks, perked up greatly. Montgomery’s fine 63-yard opening kickoff return set up Fritsch’s field goal, and Marv Bateman, back from never-never, averaged 53 yards on five punts, and a 57-yarder which backed up Cincy to its own four eventually put Dallas in field position for a TD. Dallas also got boost by Mike Clark, booming all his kickoffs.

But in the end this day belonged to the defense. There were traps, turnovers, interceptions, fine individual plays such as Waters twice throwing Bengals for losses on screens and Dallas was doing what it had not been doing.

“The turnovers were big plays for us today,” said Tom Landry. “We’ve been talking about these since before the Washington game and we got them back today.”

“I hope we continue to cut loose and not play so conservatively,” added Jordan. “We might get hit with a big play and give up some yardage but we’ll also be coming up with the big play.”

So at this time it appears the Dallas Cowboys are not depending on somebody beating Washington. It appears they are depending on themselves.

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Rest in Peace, Jerry Tubbs

There was sad news today as former linebacker and assistant coach Jerry Tubbs died at the age of 77.

He played during a time before many of us were around to watch the Cowboys. He was, though, associated with the team for just as long as Tex Schramm and Tom Landry, and more should be familiar with who he was.

He was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Cardinals in 1957 but did little to stand out during his first three years in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers left him unprotected in the 1960 expansion draft, and the Dallas Cowboys acquired him.

Tubbs played middle linebacker in Tom Landry‘s 4-3 defense. Anyone who has heard of Sam Huff knows the importance of the MLB in this system.

He was part of the first core group of players for the Cowboys. In 1962, he earned a berth in the Pro Bowl along side Bob Lilly and Don Bishop. That marked the first year that a defensive player for Dallas made the Pro Bowl.

He remained a starter until 1966, when Lee Roy Jordan moved over to the middle. Tubbs suffered a back injury in 1966 and played in only four games.

Tubbs joined the Dallas coaching staff in 1968 and remained as an assistant until the end of the Tom Landry era in 1989.

He was survived by his wife, Marlene.

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50 Seasons Series: Building the 1963 Dallas Cowboys

630909ys8.jpgThis post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

The Dallas Cowboys made enough forward strides in their first three years as a franchise that Sports Illustrated predicted the Cowboys could win the Eastern Division (hence, the cover in the shot above). Even though the team had made headlines with its offense in 1962, SI’s preseason prediction was based on the team’s improving defense.

The Dallas Cowboys,
in only the fourth year of their life as a professional football team,
should win the Eastern Division championship of the National Football
League–despite the fact that in 1962, with one of the league’s best
offensive teams, they finished fifth.

This seemingly meager accomplishment by the high-scoring Cowboys actually is proof that one of pro football’s soundest and most
intelligently operated franchises is on or ahead of schedule in its
quest for a league championship. In the past the Dallas weakness has been defense. Now that weakness is being corrected, not so
much by reinforcement as by a process of maturing power.

As we will see this week, the 1963 season was one of the most disappointing of any under Tom Landry, as the Cowboys took a step backwards rather than the huge leap forward as predicted.

1963 Draft

The Cowboys had 15 picks in the 1963 draft, and the first of these yielded a player who eventually made the team’s Ring of Honor. The others, though, were largely forgettable.

Round Player Position/College Career
1 Lee Roy Jordan LB/ Alabama Dallas Cowboys, 1963-1976
3 Jim Price LB/ Auburn New York Jets, 1963; Denver
Broncos, 1964
4 Whaley Hall T/ Mississippi n/a
7 Marv Clothier G/ Kansas n/a
10 Rod Scheyer T/ Washington n/a
11 Ray Schoenke G/ SMU Dallas Cowboys, 1963-1964;
Washington Redskins, 1966-1975
12 Bill Perkins HB/ Iowa New York Jets, 1963
13 Paul Wicker T/ Fresno State n/a
14 Lou Cioci LB/ Boston College n/a
15 Jerrry Overton DB/ Utah Dallas Cowboys, 1963
16 Dennis Golden T/ Holy Cross n/a
17 Ernie Parks G/ McMurry n/a
18 Bill Frank T/ Colorado Dallas Cowboys, 1964
19 Jim Stiger HB/ Washington Dallas Cowboys, 1963-1965;
L.A. Rams, 1965-1967
20 Tommy Lucas E/ Texas n/a

Much like the 1961 draft that resulted in the selection of Bob Lilly but nobody else of consequence, the 1963 draft would have been a disaster except for the selection of middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan. The linebacker from Alabama developed into a Pro Bowl player by 1967, and he was a fixture in Dallas for more than a decade.

Of the other players, perhaps the most notable was Ray Schoenke. He spent two seasons in Dallas before suffering an injury that forced him to sit out the 1965 season. He returned in Washington in 1966 and played for the Redskins through the 1975 season. He later became the founding president of the American Hunters and Shooters Association.

My grade: C-

Picking Jordan was a great move, but none of the others panned out.

Players the Cowboys Missed

The 1963 draft was not a great one, though it featured a few players who later made the Hall of Fame. Here are a few of the players the Cowboys could have taken (and you might notice a bit of Balitmore Colts envy here…):

TE John Mackey (2nd round, Baltimore): Mackey played nine seasons for the Colts, along with one in San Diego, and he was named to the Hall of Fame in 1992.
S Jerry Logan (4th round, Baltimore): Logan made three Pro Bowls as a member of the Colts.
WR Willie Richardson (7th round, Baltimore): Richardson was a two-time Pro Bowler in Baltimore.
TE Jackie Smith (10th round, St. Louis): Long before he dropped a certain pass in Super Bowl XIII, Smith could have been a Cowboy had Dallas taken him before Cardinals did in the 10th round of the 1963 draft.
LB Andy Russell (16th round, Pittsburgh): Russell was a seven-time Pro Bowl pick with the Steelers, and he helped lead Pittsburgh to two Super Bowl titles in the 1970s.

Other Personnel Moves

Offensive Line:  Two new faces on the team’s offensive line included guard Jim Ray Smith and tackle Ed Nutting. Smith had been an All-Pro with Cleveland, and Dallas acquired him in 1963. However, injuries slowed him down, and he was gone after the 1964 season. Dallas acquired another Cleveland castoff in Nutting in 1962, but an injury kept him out of action. He played in 1963 but then retired after that season.

Linebackers: Chuck Howley moved from the weak-side to strong-side linebacker in 1963, and Jordan stepped in as the new weak-side backer. Former starter Mike Dowdle was traded to San Francisco.

Defensive Backs:
Cornell Green was an undrafted rookie in 1962, but he broke into the starting lineup in 1963 at cornerback. Green was an All-American basketball player in college, but he found greater fame as a defensive back with the Cowboys. Another free agent, Warren Livingston, also moved back into the starting lineup in 1963. Mike Gaetcher moved from cornerback to safety.