Victor Butler: A rising star in Dallas

When it came time for the Cowboys to make their selection in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft they choose defensive end Victor Butler out of Oregon State. Thoughts were to convert Victor Butler to outside linebacker in the Cowboys 3-4 defense. Three years after being drafted Butler has made a successful transition to outside linebacker and also contributes to the Cowboys special teams.

Victor Butler was born on July 29, 1987 in Rialto, CA. His father Sylvester, a truck driver and mother Janis, a social worker had their hands full with eight children. Victor is the fourth child out of the eight. He attended Eisenhower High School where he was a three-year letterman as a receiver, safety, defensive end and kick returner. He played defensive end only as a senior due to team needs and was two-time all-league and all-county as a senior. Butler graduated from Eisenhower high school with a 3.50 cumulative GPA and was a regular on the school’s honor roll.

After high school Victor Butler attended Oregon State. As a junior in 2007 Butler compiled 10.5 sacks for the Beavers at defensive end.  In his senior season of 2008 he totaled 12 sacks. He earned MVP honors in the Sun Bowl as he registered four sacks and 11 tackles, which included five tackles for a loss and a forced fumble as Oregon State defeated 18th ranked Pittsburgh.

In Victor Butler’s collegiate career at Oregon State he totaled 26 sacks and 110 tackles, which included 39.5 tackles for losses.

While playing outside linebacker for the Cowboys as a rookie in 2009 Victor Butler registered his first career pro sacks. In a game against the Carolina Panthers he took down quarterback Jake Delhomme twice as the Cowboys beat the Panthers 21-7. On Butler’s second sack of Delhomme he also forced his first career fumble. Butler finished 2009 with three sacks and 17 tackles. His three sacks were the most amongst Cowboys rookies in 2009 and also fifth most on the team. Butler played in all 16 games in 2009 while starting one for the Cowboys.

In 2010 Butler totaled 24 tackles and two sacks for the Cowboys while also forcing a fumble and pressuring the quarterback four times in his 15 games.

In 2011 Butler contributed 23 tackles and three sacks for the Cowboys in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s defense. His first sack came in the Cowboys 18-16 victory over the Redskins in the Cowboys season home opener on Monday Night Football. His second sack came against the Redskins in their second matchup in Washington. It was Butler who sacked Rex Grossman in overtime on third down as the Redskins were in Cowboys territory. The sack forced the Redskins to attempt a 52 yard field, which of course they missed. His third sack came on Thanksgiving against the Dolphins on third down. The sack forced the Dolphins to attempt a field goal which they also missed. In the first meeting against the Giants it was Butler who tipped a pass by Eli Manning which resulted in an interception by Sean Lee late in the game.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Victor Butler a few questions and he was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer them for me. 

- What were your thoughts when you were drafted by the Cowboys in 2009?

Victor Butler: I was so excited. I had been a Cowboys fan my whole life. I had a little kid Dallas Cowboys uniform from a Halloween contest I wore for a while. All Cowboys, Cowboys underwear, Cowboys socks, Cowboys boots, sleeping bag, toothbrush, Troy Aikman lunch pale, so I was excited to be on board with Cowboy Nation.

- Were you a Cowboys fan growing up?

Victor Butler: Oh yeah, I was a mega Cowboys fan. I played Cowboys and Indians and ate Troy Aikman Wheaties. Just everything Cowboys.

- What kind of feeling is it wearing the star on your helmet?

Victor Butler: It’s a tremendous feeling of pride.

- Was it hard going from defensive end in college to linebacker in the NFL?

Victor Butler: It was very hard, but I worked very hard to make it look easy.

- Who would you say has helped you the most in your three years with the Cowboys?

Victor Butler: Captain Planet, just really watching a lot of Captain Planet, ha I’m just joking. DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer taught me how to be pros and the whole different way of watching the game, watching the films, prioritizing my time, getting a schedule and sticking to it. Whether it’s a diet or what I’m doing from time after practice to when I go to sleep. And Bradie James too, really all the veteran linebackers.

- How is Rob Ryan’s defense different for you compared to Wade Phillips defense?

Victor Butler: Rob Ryan’s defense is a player friendly defense. Lot of moving around, lots of moving pieces, kinda incorporates everyone as far as if you’re a 1st round pick to a 4th round. If you can help the team and be a productive member on the field on defense then you will have a part in his defense. Makes everyone feel like they are part of something bigger.

- You have developed a large following among the Cowboys fans. How does it make you feel knowing so many fans are out there talking about you and wearing #57?

Victor Butler: Is great! Dallas is one of the most recognizable organizations after Manchester United and the NY Yankees, so to have a great following and a great group of fans follow you and respect what you do and like how you’re performing. It’s a great feeling.

- What are some of the things you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Victor Butler: Watch film, a lot of film, I like to be one step ahead of the opponent.  I also like cartoons and I’m a big movie buff.

 

My own thoughts about Victor Butler are that he needs to be a bigger part of the Cowboys defense. It seems as though every time he is on the field he is around the ball and is making something happen. I love his motor on the field and how he is always causing problems for the opposing team. The Cowboys defense can only benefit with Victor Butler becoming a bigger part of their game plans

I would like to thank Victor Butler for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. I wish him continued success in the NFL as a Dallas Cowboy.

Odds of Seeing Dallas at Dallas

With the Super Bowl heading to Dallas this year in the new monument that is Cowboys Stadium, many are wondering if the Dallas Cowboys have the chops and mental muscle to become the third team ever to play an in-stadium Super Bowl.

Forget what you think about it as a football fan, this is about pure odds and the bookies’ angle. What do Vegas and the rest of the sports book world think about the Cowboys’ chances to play the Super Bowl at home?

For this angle, you need to view the sum of the Cowboys’ parts and not the individual pieces. It’s not only about Tony Romo’s grace under fire or lack thereof. Miles Austin’s romp with a Kardashian possibly putting the kibosh on a repeat year doesn’t stand alone. Wade’s leadership ability doesn’t make or break the chances. It’s the entire combination that odds makers are looking at for a Super Bowl prediction in the preseason.

To that end, you have to look at the sum. What do the Cowboys have that other teams in the NFC don’t? For starters, their QB/WR combo stands out as more potent than anything offered in Minnesota with a banged-up Favre or in New Orleans where it’s assumed Brees played over his head.

The running game the Cowboys are brining to the table is also forceful – so much so that other teams around the league are emulating this style. See the Redskins, Eagles, Vikings, Panthers, Jets and Patriots for proof positive.

These offensive factors, merged with a powerful O line, give Dallas the edge in odds makers’ minds for the upcoming season. The Cowboys are the NFC favorites to win to the Super Bowl via Vegas’ lines – +500. Only the Colts at +450 are better in the league, and their AFC presence doesn’t dampen the Boys’ spirits one bit.

To win the NFC Championship, their odds are even better at +350, well above both the Vikings and the Saints.

Defensively, the Cowboys were ranked 9th in the league last year. And with a few holes spotted after their preseason bout with the Chargers, the team needs to tighten up before season’s start. If the odds makers were looking purely at defense, the Cowboys might drop down to casino-like odds and have better luck playing slots online.

Luckily, their problems are only minor. And the fact that their defense is better on paper than anything offered in their division with Washington, Philly and New York, Dallas isn’t in danger of dropping off any time soon.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to drop money on a super bowl winner before the start of the season. But with 20 dollars bringing in 100, a small wager might cover the wings for the Cowboys’ Super Bowl after party.

Jay Ratliff Goes One on One With Lone Star Struck

Recently, I had the great pleasure of having one of my favorite current Cowboys answer a few questions for me on behalf of this fabulous site, Lone Star Struck.

When I think of Jay Ratliff, words like amazing, clutch, tremendous, unstoppable and  fierce come to mind. He has become the heart and soul and driving force of our defense, and has played a great part in making it one of the best defensive units in the NFL. He has catapulted himself from a backup to a consistent Pro Bowl caliber performer who is now considered by many to be among the best at his position.

What many Cowboy fans may not know, is just how down to earth Jay Ratliff really is. He is a man of the people who takes nothing for granted and considers every day a blessing. He is a leader both on and off the field who always strives to be better and never settles.

Jay-Rat enjoys reaching out to his fans and started his own website aptly named JayRat.com .  It’s a great site that is loaded with information about Jay and includes plenty of stats and trivia, a great photo gallery, and news and notes about his goals, his outreach to kids, and his unwavering support for our troops. To sum it up in three words, it’s “Jay Ratliff Unwrapped”.

Jay was extremely generous of his time and kind enough to answer a few questions for me about himself, the Cowboys, and the upcoming season. I hope you enjoy it.

Joe D: Last season you were an absolute monster on the field and finished with 40 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. You were rewarded by being selected to the 2009 NFL All-Pro Team as a first-team defensive tackle. What was it like to be honored like that? And how did it feel to prove the doubters wrong, who questioned whether you’d be successful switching from end to tackle?

Jay Ratliff: Thanks. It was a blessing to me, but I never really even thought about it. I only thought about some of the goals I didn’t accomplish. No matter what I’m honored with I think I’ll still be upset about my draft day experience. Weird I know, but it’s what drives me.

Joe D: By now you already know that Super Bowl XLV will be hosted at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011. First, tell us what this means for the city and the Cowboys fans in general, and then I want you to tell me what the odds are that you’ll be on that field with the rest of your teammates on that day? How’s our chances?

Jay Ratliff: Well I know it is a huge deal for our city and fans worldwide as we are constantly reminded every day. It’s going to be tough like every season is, but we have to be even more focused mentally. However, I feel we have a shot.

Joe D: One thing I know for sure, is that the Cowboys aren’t going anywhere without you. You have become such a tremendous part of the fabric of this team, and in my opinion one if its core players and inspirational leaders both on and off the field. You recently had surgery on both of your elbows. Please tell us how that went, and where you now stand as far as your rehab goes and whether you’ll be 100% ready for training camp?

Jay Ratliff: Thanks for the kind words. My surgery went very well. I went to Dr. Andrews who is one of the best in the business. Right now I have full range of motion and my press is getting better. I should be ready for training camp.

Joe D: Draft day is right around the corner… What particular areas would you like the team to focus on and strengthen?

Jay Ratliff: Personally I feel like we have what we need. It’s all about just getting it done now.

Joe D: We are so fortunate to have such a great player like you on our team and comprising one of the best defensive units in the NFL. Tell me what it’s like to be a part of this team, and dealing with all the ups and downs and rigors of an NFL season. How important is it to have good chemistry in the locker room? Do you consider yourselves to be a band of brothers?

Jay Ratliff: I love the guys we have on this team. There are so many different personalities, but we all get along and work well together. I feel that chemistry is the most important thing in a locker room. If a team does not have that, believe me, it shows on the field and they fall apart at critical times. So yes I do feel like we are a band of brothers.

Joe D: I think it’s great that you’ve started your own website (JayRat.com), and that you are so willing and committed to reaching out and communicating with so many of your diehard fans. Can you tell us how important it is for you to have that connection with your fans?

Jay Ratliff: Simple. If it was not for the fans we could not do what we do. You guys help put food on our tables. It is very important to me to try and reach out and communicate with every fan to show you all how we appreciate you and thank you. We owe it to you.

Thanks so much to Jay Ratliff and Jamie Tebbe, for allowing us the priveledge to have Jay answer a few questions for us. We look forward to seeing Jay-Rat back on the field real soon, sacking the opposing quarterback and thrilling us with your signature roar.

I encourage you all to check out JayRat.com.

Our Own Piece of Hollywood

This morning while doing a search for a Cowboys blog I was working on, I came across something that was ranked second on the Google search listings.

I clicked on it and was surprised to find an old interview that Joe D. did with legendary Cowboy, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson. Great interview Joe, thanks again!

If you haven’t heard it before, here it is.

Joe D Interviews Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson

I thought it was pretty interesting that Thomas predicted the Super Bowl Champion 11 days before the big game.