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Jason Witten will someday become a member of the Ring of Honor, and he has a chance to become a member of the Hall of Fame.
His career, though, appears to be on the decline. After two weeks, he has only 46 yards on six receptions.
He now has 9,845 receiving yards, meaning he needs 155 more yards to surpass 10,000. He ranks 42nd in NFL history in receiving yards. Among tight ends, he ranks third behind Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe. Witten should surpass Sharpe soon, as Witten trails Sharpe by 215 yards.
The Dallas Cowboys faced the Green Bay Packers in three consecutive NFC playoffs during the 1990s and won all three. Here is an animated GIF from one of those games.
At the time, this was the longest TD reception in NFL playoff history. Here are some questions about the game and that play.
(1) Who was on the receiving end of this touchdown pass from Troy Aikman?
(2) The play was a 94-yard touchdown. Who later broke this record?
(3) The receiver in the GIF signed with another team the following year. Which team?
(4) Which Dallas running back scored two touchdowns in this win?
Pro-Football-Reference.com has engaged in a project for some time now that allows users to vote on the all-time rankings of every NFL player. The project is known as Elo Rater.
Cowboys’ fans will not be happy to see the current rankings, as no Dallas player appears on the top 10 list for offense and only one player appears in the top 10 on defense.
Before I point out some B.S., here are the Cowboys rated in the top 50 for offense and defense:
17. Roger Staubach
26. Larry Allen
(I am not counting Lance Alworth, though he was a member of the Cowboys towards the end of his career. He ranks 10th.)
9. Bob Lilly
49. Deion Sanders
(Similarly, I am not counting Forrest Gregg as a Cowboy.)
Now for the criticism.
How many real experts would place Len Dawson in the top 20 offensive players of all time? Yes, he is a Hall-of-Fame player, but #15 overall?
Jim Brown ranks at #3. Gale Sayers is #5. Walter Payton is #6. Barry Sanders is #9. Emmitt Smith, who outrushed all of them? He ranks #130 behind the likes of Chuck Muncie, Calvin Hill, Bob Vogel, James Brooks, Jim Hart, and Jim Langer.
I am somewhat less critical of the defensive rankings, though I would rank Darren Woodson higher than #245 overall.
Here is an animated GIF showing Tom Landry, apparently during pre-game warm-ups:
Unlike the GIF I posted a few days ago, I do not know for certain the game from which this GIF was taken. It almost has to be from the 1971 season, though.
Two things to note:
(1) The goalpost is on the goal line, so the image has to be from before the 1974 season.
(2) The end zone has no art at all. From what I know, the only season in which no art appeared in end zone was 1971.
(a) A reader named Redmustang03 described the end zone art to me several years ago as follows:
The dark blue Cowboys logo with the helmet with two bars wasn’t put in until the 1981 season which lasted from 1981 to 1995 after the NFC championship game. Instead from 1972 to 1978, the Cowboys logo background was light blue with two white circles that included the Cowboys stars. In 1979 they did use the two helmets, but they were bigger in size and the background was still the light blue. In 1981, they changed the Cowboys words to Texas Stadium and used that for one year. After one year, they used the 1981 end zone logos until 1995 and the next year they have the aqua blue background with the Cowboys logo and the two helmets with the three bars. Until they switched from astroturf to field turf the Cowboys logo background changed to a dark blue not as dark as the 1981 logo and then put in the same two helmets with three bars.
(b) An image of Duane Thomas from the 1971 season clearly shows that no art appears in the end zone:
Any ideas about the date of the animated GIF?
Here’s an animated GIF from a game between the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. Some trivia question are below the image.
Here are the questions:
(1) What was the significance of this game?
(2) Who was the New England quarterback?
(3) True or false: The Cowboys did not lose another game during the season in question after beating the Patriots.
In the history of the Dallas Cowboys, many players have, of course, been prone to suffer injuries. Some, however, have never only been able to contribute a small fraction of what they could because of those injuries.
Below is a list of players who fall into that category.
10. Robert Brewster, Tackle (3rd Round, 2009)
We begin with two picks from the dreadful 2009 draft. The team picked tackle Robert Brewster with the 75th overall pick. This was during a time when the team had a decent but aging offensive line.
Brewster tore a pectoral muscle during a workout and did not play as a rookie. He was released during the middle of the 2010 season.
He last played in the Arena Football League in 2012.
9. Brandon Williams, Linebacker (4th round, 2009)
The Cowboys needed linebackers even in 2009 and took Texas Tech defensive end Williams with the goal of converting him to outside linebacker.
He tore his ACL during a preseason game in 2009, though. He played in 10 games in 2010 but was waived before the start of the 2011 season.
He was on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad in 2011 and made active roster at the end of the 2011 season. He has not played in the NFL since being waived before the 2012 season by Arizona.
8. Billy Cannon, Linebacker (1st Round, 1984)
If the Cowboys could have picked up the senior Billy Cannon in 1960, he could have been a cornerstone in the new franchise. The senior Billy Cannon won the Heisman Trophy at LSU, and he was a key member of the Dallas Texans’ 1961 AFL Championship Game.
The junior Billy Cannon lasted eight games into his rookie season. He suffered a spinal injury against the Saints and was forced to retire.
7. Tody Smith, Defensive End (1st Round, 1971)
The Cowboys took USC defensive end Tody Smith with the 25th overall selection in 1971. Smith had to deal with an ankle injury as a rookie and played in only seven games. He had knee surgery during the off-season in 1972 but still played in ten games. Perhaps due to the bad knee, he was disappointing in 1972.
The upside of the Smith selection was that the Houston Oilers gave the Cowboys first- and third-round draft picks in 1974 to acquire Smith.
Smith lasted three years in Houston but was waived while injured before the 1976 season.
Meanwhile, Dallas used the picks from the Oilers to take Too Tall Jones and Danny White.
6. Robert Shaw, Center (1st Round, 1979)
Shaw took over as the starting center in 1980 and did an excellent job in three playoff games.
However, he suffered a catastrophic knee injury in 1981 and was never able to play again. Had he remained with the Cowboys, he probably would have anchored a very good offensive line.
Tom Rafferty did a fine job at center, but the Cowboys struggled to replace Rafferty at guard.
5. Jimmy Smith, Wide Receiver (2nd round, 1992)
Smith wound up with more than 12,000 receiving yards while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As a Cowboy, though, he was injured most of the time and even had to undergo an emergency appendectomy.
He never caught a pass with the Cowboys, who released him before the 1994 season. Jacksonville picked him up during the Jaguars’ expansion season, and he spent 11 years there, earning five Pro Bowl berths.
4. Bill Thomas, Running Back (1st round, 1972)
The Cowboys selected Bill Thomas as part of an effort to replace Duane Thomas. However, Bill Thomas never recovered from a shoulder injury suffered during college, and the Cowboys cut him before his second season in 1973.
He played two more seasons for the Oilers and Chiefs.
3. David LaFleur, Tight End (1st Round, 1997)
The Cowboys desperately needed to replace Jay Novacek in 1997 and used the 22nd overall pick to take LaFleur, thanks largely to an endorsement from Troy Aikman.
LaFleur played four seasons in Dallas, but he suffered through chronic back injuries. The team had to cut him before the 2001 season when he could not pass a physical.
He finished with just 729 yards in four seasons.
2. Mike Sherrard, Wide Receiver (1st round, 1986)
Sherrard had a promising rookie season in 1986, with 41 receptions for 744 yards and five touchdowns. He would have been the team’s top receiver in 1987, but he broke his ankle during training camp. He missed the entire season.
One year later, he suffered yet another broken ankle, causing him to miss yet another season.
The 49ers signed Sherrard through Plan B free agency in 1989, so Sherrard never played for the Cowboys after his rookie season in 1986.
Dallas had to use another first-round pick to take a receiver in 1988, but fortunately the team selected Michael Irvin.
Sherrard played for the 49ers, Giants, and Broncos but suffered through several more injuries. Nevertheless, his career lasted until 1996.
1. Sean Lee (2nd round, 2010).
Lee has the talent and leadership to be one of the franchise’s great linebackers.
He has the body of a porcelain vase and has been injured frequently. In four years, he has missed 18 games.
He will miss another 16 in 2014 while recovering from a torn ACL.
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.
I spent Saturday losing at a jiu jitsu tournament, so I missed watching the final day of the draft. Most are saying that the Cowboys were very conservative with this draft class, so expectations are not very high. We’ll see.
Here are ten facts about this year’s draft class.
- Until 2014, the Cowboys had never taken a Notre Dame player in the first round of the draft. Zack Martin is the third offensive lineman the Cowboys have selected from Notre Dame. The other two were Phil Pozderac (5th round, 1982) and Sam Young (6th round, 2010).
- Between 1960 and 2010, the Cowboys used three first-round picks on offensive linemen (John Niland, Robert Shaw, and Howard Richards). Three of the team’s last four first-round picks have been offensive linemen.
- Most are aware that the Cowboys drafted Orlando Scandrick and Tyrone Crawford from Boise State, the college of second-round pick Demarcus Lawrence. The team drafted two others in the 1970s. RB John Smith (1976) never played a down in the NFL. However, CB Rolly Woolsey was part of the Dirty Dozen of the 1975 Draft. He played one year for the Cowboys before moving on to play for three more teams over the next three seasons.
- Until taking LB Anthony Hitchens with the 119th overall pick, the Cowboys had not drafted a player from Iowa in 30 years. The last player was RB Norm Granger (1984), who played in 15 games as a rookie but did not play in the NFL after that except as a replacement player in 1987.
- The Cowboys had some good fortune with picks from Pittsburgh, taking Tony Dorsett in 1977 and Mark Stepnoski in 1989. Other picks, though, were less impressive. These include Curvin Richards (1991), Antonio Bryant (2002), and Rob Petitti (2005). Bryant and fifth-round pick Devin Street are the only receivers the Cowboys have taken from Pitt.
- Dallas did well with picks from Stanford in the 1970s, finding Scott Laidlaw (1975), Pat Donovan (1975), and Tony Hill (1977). Blaine Nye (1968) was also from Stanford. However, the last Stanford selection before Ben Gardner in 2014 was guard Matt Moran in 1985. Moran never played in the NFL.
- The Cowboys have taken eight players from Texas Tech, including linebacker Will Smith in 2014. However, only three of the previous picks ever played a down in the NFL. One of these three includes E.J. Holub, who was a five-time Pro Bowler with the AFL’s Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs. The other two were Brandon Williams (2009) and Jamar Wall (2010). Only Williams ever played for the Cowboys.
- The Cowboys went with a Baylor player for the second year in a row, taking safety Ahmad Dixon with the 248th pick. He joines Terrance Williams, a third-round selection in 2013. Others from Baylor included guard Kelvin Garmon (1999), corner Ron Francis (1987), guard Bob Crenshaw (1964), and linebacker Sonny Davis (1961).
- Ken Bishop is only the second player the Cowboys have taken from Northern Illinois. The other was Doug Free in 2007.
- The Cowboys struck out on most of their previous picks from Oregon, the college that seventh-round pick Terrance Mitchell attended. The exception was Hall-of-Famer Mel Renfro.
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.
Jerry Jones will make news no matter what he says or does not say. That is just reality.
Today’s quote about the team’s chances in 2014: “Better than 8-8. We can get better than 8-8. We are hell-bent to change that.”
Good. Great. Just do it.
Anyway, for quote trivia today, we look back at a previous dark time during the Jerry Jones era. We will even look at two quotes.
Here’s the first one:
I couldn’t operate and couldn’t make decisions if I got up in the morning and thought that we were going to have a losing record. When I’m making decisions – even though we want to look long-term – I want to make decisions that help us win games this year, as well. I think we can do both, and that’s why I think we’ll win more than half our games.
Question #1: Jerry said this in June of what year?
Question #2: How did the Cowboys end up doing that year?
Jerry predicted a 10-6 record for the Cowboys in the season described above. A linebacker on the team made the following quote:
Actually, I feel like he shortchanged us a couple of games. He says 10-6, but we’ve got to believe we’re a 12-4 team.
Question #3: Who said this?