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We Will Be Back

I am a very analytical ‘stats’ kind of fan.  I like to learn from the past to predict where we may go in the future, so please bear with me as I ramble on in my blogs.  I ended my last blog wanting to talk about the offensive line and the defensive secondary – and that I will.

2010 will mark 15 years since the Cowboys last hoisted the Lombardi trophy.  Let’s analyze then and now:

Then:

1995 produced four Pro Bowl offensive linemen (arguably it could have been five).  Names like Erik Williams, Larry Allen, Ray Donaldson, Nate Newton, and Mark Tuinei should bring a smile to any die-hard Dallas fan!  1995 also produced a line that gave up only 14 sacks for the entire season for a drop-back, pocket passer that would only scramble if there was a single, female country singer within his view (yes, I will give credit where credit is due to the slant route and to Emmitt).

Now:

2009 produced two Pro Bowl offensive linemen, Gurode and Davis; however, this line allowed 34 sacks for a scrambling quarterback that could give Houdini a run for his money.  Yet, this line produced 4.8 yards-per-carry for arguably one of the best three-headed running attacks in the league.  Hmm?

Then:

Arguably one of the best shut-down cornerbacks of all time basically cut the field in half (Deion Sanders) allowing Larry Brown, Darren Woodson, and Brock Marion to flourish; with Woodson having a Pro Bowl year.

Now:

2009 produced two Pro Bowl corners in Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins; but the safety positions remain in question.

So my first question – with names like Kosier, Gurode (Pro Bowl ’09), Davis (Pro Bowl ’09), Free, Colombo, Barron (who by all accounts is just another Flozell), and 7th round pick Young, can they keep Romo healthy enough (and calm enough in the pocket) to hit our targets?  We know they can run block, but can they protect the QB?

My second question – do you feel that the defensive line and the linebacker core are strong enough (which by all indications they are) to be left alone, or will they end up, more times than not, leaving Newman and/or Jenkins alone in space as they keep a safety in the box?  What are their names?  Ball, Church, Hamlin, McCray, Owusu-Ansah, and Sensabaugh.  You be the coach, what lineup do you go with?

In this writer’s opinion, the offensive line (particularly the left tackle) and the safety positions will determine the fate of this upcoming season.

SS Sensabaugh A Favorite Of Campo

Since this off-season began I was predicting my home town player Gerald Sensabaugh to join my other home town player Jason Witten in Dallas my friends were saying theres no way Gerald would be a Dallas Cowboy. I debated and argued all the way until that faithful day when the Cowboys signed him. I though my arguments were over but no everywhere I looked it seemed like every Cowboys fan I talked to was doubting what Gerald could do, so I just said wait and see.

Now according to dallascowboys.com writer Mickey Spagnola Sensabaugh is one of Secondary Coach Dave Campo’s favorites. Here is what Mickey’s article said.

You might say for the majority of his years with the Cowboys, Dave Campo, first secondary coach, then defensive coordinator and then head coach before returning as secondary coach in 2008, was spoiled at the safety position. During his previous 14 seasons, he mostly had the likes of Ray Horton, James Washington, Thomas Everett, Darren Woodson, Brock Marion and George Teague back there. He even enjoyed a rather nice rookie season out of Roy Williams.

So last season probably was a little bit of a shellshock for Camps, who returned for a 15th season. Heck, even over his three years as head coach, when Woodson remained healthy, he had Woodson and Teague back there. Injuries and performance made last year somewhat of a crap shoot.

That’s why I said to him, with the addition of Gerald Sensabaugh and all the young guys brought in, this might be the best the safety position has looked since, well, Woodson was playing.

He laughed, saying it was funny I’d bring up Woodson, “because when I got to Jacksonville (2005) I remember saying Sensabaugh (a rookie then) had the kind of burst Woodson had. Now I’m not saying he’s Woodson.”

Of course not, and he’s probably 10 to 15 pounds lighter. But Campo was trying to make a point about Sensabaugh’s ability to cover, not only from the deep safety spot, but also going inside to the weak linebacker spot on the nickel, where Woodson spoiled the Cowboys his entire career with an ability to cover even receivers in the slot.

Legends of the Star – Darren Woodson

Darren Woodson was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as a converted linebacker in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft out of Arizona State University.

He played at safety for the Cowboys and was a five time Pro Bowl selection who developed a reputation as an effective run-stopper and was a feared and ferocious hitter. He was leader both on and off the field and was a mentor to many of the younger players, including Roy Williams.

Besides chasing and tackling ball carriers in the secondary, Woodson also was very relentless at chasing down and stopping kick returners on special teams. For many years, Woodson dominated at his position and was a threat to anyone carrying the ball within his range. Many of his tackles were so ferocious that he drew many fines from the NFL during his career.

However, doing all those things for all those years finally took a toll on Woodson’s body. After missing most of the season after having back surgery just before training camp, the hard-hitting safety announced his retirement in December of 2004. It was the end of an era for the Dallas Cowboys. Darren Woodson was the last player left from the 1992, 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl champions and he was also the last player drafted by Jimmy Johnson. His 1,350 tackles are the most-ever in Cowboys history. 

Just the mention of Woodson’s name can still make opposing wide receivers and kickoff returners cringe.

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker started his football career while playing for the University of Georgia. In his freshman year, he set an NCAA rushing record and helped his team win the national title. He earned All-American honors three consecutive years, set 10 NCAA records, 15 Southeast Conference records, 30 Georgia all-time records, and capped a sensational college career by earning the 1982 Heisman Trophy in his third and final year.

In 1983, Walker turned professional and joined the New Jersey Generals of the now defunct United States Football League. Herschel was absolutely dominating and was considered by many to be the best and most electrifying player in football. He won the leagues Most Valuable Player award and set the all-time single season pro football rushing record with 2411 yards.

In 1986, Herschel Walker joined the Dallas Cowboys, and in his first season with the team he led the NFL in rushing and scored 14 touchdowns. His best year came in 1988 when Herschel rushed for 1,514 yards. He earned Pro Bowl honors with the Cowboys in 1987 and 1988. During his years with the Cowboys he was their most talented and most popular player, but the team was not winning.

In the middle of the1989 season, the Cowboys traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in a deal that would change the face of the Cowboys for years to come. Besides receiving 5 players, the Cowboys also received a total of six draft picks, two of which were used to draft Emmit Smith and Darren Woodson. Jimmy Johnson used the other draft picks to make trades with other teams around the NFL which led to drafting Russell Maryland with the first overall draft pick in 1991. This trade has long been considered one of the most lopsided deals in NFL history.

After continuing his career as one of the premier running backs in the league, Herschel would later return to Dallas in 1996 and retired as a Cowboy in 1997.

Walker was one of the most productive players in the history of football and even if you discount his 3 seasons with the USFL, he still had 82 career touchdowns, 8,225 rushing yards, 4,859 receiving yards, and 5,084 kickoff-return yards. He is the only player to have 10,000+ yards gained on offense and 5,000+ yards on kickoff returns.

Although his career as Cowboy was not that long, during his years with the team he was the lone bright spot despite the fact that the team never made the play-offs. His contribution to the team in terms of trade value transformed the team into the most powerful team in the NFL for an entire decade. 

Walker was one of the top running backs in the pros, gaining more yards than anyone in professional football history, counting his seasons in both the NFL and USFL. He finished his professional career with a total of 8,225 yards and 61 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 512 passes for 4,859 yards and 21 scores.

 
Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.