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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.

It’s Time For More Ring Of Honor Inductions

It’s been five seasons since a player was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. Actually, three players were inducted back in 2005, when Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were all inducted on the same day. Five years is too long to go without a player being inducted. Especially with a team like the Cowboys that is so deep with great players.

It’s time for the Cowboys to start honoring more players in the new stadium and give them their place in history. I can probably name about 15 to 20 players who deserve to be honored, but there are two that always come to mind first. They were great players for the Cowboys through most of the 1970s and early 1980s. They helped make the Cowboys what they are today. They put their mark on the organization as well as the NFL. They dominated their positions around the same time in their careers and received many of the same honors. Those players are Harvey Martin and Drew Pearson.

Harvey Martin, 1973-1983    

Harvey Martin was drafted by the Cowboys in the third round of the 1973 draft. In his ten seasons with the Cowboys he was elected to four Pro Bowls (1976, ’77, ’78 and ’79), he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1977 and was also on the NFL 1970s All-Decade team.  In 1977, after helping the Cowboys win their second Super Bowl Championship, Harvey Martin was selected as co-MVP of Super Bowl XII along with Randy White as they dominated the Denver Broncos. Harvey Martin, aka “Too Mean” became one of the most feared defensive linemen in the NFL.  

Martin became part of the Cowboys Doomsday Defense II, along with Randy White and Ed (Too Tall) Jones.  At the beginning of his career he was able to learn from the great Bob Lilly. Martin led the Cowboys in sacks seven times in his career. Although the NFL did not officially start recording sacks until 1982, it was Harvey Martin who collected 23 sacks during the 1977 season in only 14 games. Those 23 sacks would be the all-time record today over Michael Strahan who had 22 ½ in 2001. Martin had 14 sacks in 1978 as he once again helped the Cowboys to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII. Martin still holds the record for most career sacks for the Cowboys with 114.    

Harvey Martin had his share of problems off the field after his retirement in 1983. Those problems plagued him until the mid 1990s when he was able to turn his life around. Martin gave anti-drug speeches to school children and recovering addicts in hopes that they would listen and not make the same mistakes he made.

Harvey Martin’s life was cut short on December 24, 2001 when he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 51. By his bedside that day was teammate and good friend Drew Pearson. Martin will most likely never make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is a disgrace in my opinion. Martin belongs in the Cowboys Ring of Honor because of the kind of player he was and what he did for the Cowboys. His name needs to be displayed with the other Cowboys greats and honored for his ten seasons with the Cowboys

Drew Pearson, 1973-1983    

Drew Pearson was signed as a Free Agent by the Cowboys in 1973 and went on to become one of the greatest wide receivers in Dallas Cowboys history.  Pearson became known as “Mr. Clutch” in his career for always making the big reception for the Cowboys. In 1974 he caught the game winning touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Clint Longley on Thanksgiving against the Redskins. In the 1975 playoffs he caught the game winning “Hail Mary” touchdown pass from Roger Staubach against the Vikings. In the 1980 playoffs he caught the game winning touchdown pass from Danny White against the Falcons. Pearson finished his career with 489 receptions for 7,822 yards and 48 touchdowns. He was elected three Pro Bowls (1974, ’76 and ’77). Pearson was also selected to the NFL 1970s All-Decade team. Drew Pearson was a member of three Cowboys Super Bowl teams in 1975, 1977 and 1978.

     Like Harvey Martin, Pearson will most likely never make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pearson’s numbers compare and even go beyond some of his fellow NFL receivers at the time like Lynn Swann (336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns) and John Stallworth (537 receptions for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns). Both Swann and Stallworth have been elected into the Hall of Fame.    

Drew Pearson’s career came to an end after the 1983 season when the car he was driving crashed into a truck killing his younger brother. Pearson suffered a lacerated kidney in the accident and had to retire from the NFL. To this day Pearson does not remember anything about the accident.

Harvey Martin and Drew Pearson both belong in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys organization need to do the right thing and place their names in Cowboys stadium for all to see. Although Harvey Martin is no longer with us, I’m sure it will make his family, friends and former teammates proud to see him finally make it. Drew Pearson needs to be honored the same as fellow receivers Bob Hayes and Michael Irvin.

Other Cowboys greats in the Ring of Honor…

Bob Lilly, 1975

Don Meredith, 1976

Don Perkins, 1976

Chuck Howley, 1977

Mel Renfro, 1981

Roger Staubach, 1983

Lee Roy Jordan, 1989

Tom Landry, 1993

Tony Dorsett, 1994

Randy White, 1994

Bob Hayes, 2001

Tex Schramm, 2003

Cliff Harris, 2004

Rayfield Wright, 2004

Troy Aikman, 2005

Emmitt Smith, 2005

Michael Irvin, 2005

Harvey Martin, ??

Drew Pearson, ??

Some pictures provided by the following books, “The Super Bowl” and “Dallas Cowboys, Our Story”

Boys Could Look To Add Outside Linebacker Depth Early On In Draft

Outside linebacker play got more consistent for the Cowboys in 2009 with the emergence of Anthony Spencer and the usual All-Pro play from Demarcus Ware. There are questions however with the depth behind the two starting outside linebackers. Contrary to popular belief, I think Victor Butler played well for a raw rookie making the transition to linebacker. And we can’t forget about Brandon Williams, who was sidelined for the year with a torn ACL, and should be ready to compete by the time training camp starts. Still, expect the Cowboys to take a close look at the deep class of ‘tweener type linebackers that fit well into their 3-4 scheme. Here are a few prospects to watch.

Thaddeus Gibson - Ohio State, 6’2″ 243

Many questioned Gibson’s decision to declare for the draft early. But after his performance at Ohio State’s pro day, it looks as though he made the right choice. He has the size that 3-4 defensive coordinators covet, and would project to be an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Gibson also has the speed to go along with his size, running a 4.58 40-yard dash at Ohio State’s pro day. His 40-time is comparable to Demarcus Ware’s when he performed at the combine in 2005 and ran a 4.56 40. Gibson will probably go in rounds 2 or 3, which may not be too early for the Cowboys to consider an outside linebacker.

Jerry Hughes – Texas Christian, 6’2″ 255

A hometown boy who played his college ball for the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Hughes was a terror on the Frogs defensive line, posting 26 sacks in the past two seasons. Like Gibson, he is a ‘tweener prospect who will play outside linebacker at the next level. He posted a very solid 4.69 40-time at the combine, and has the size comparable to Anthony Spencer. Hughes’s draft stock has been solid throughout pre-draft workouts, and he could go as early as the late 1st round. The Cowboys are not likely interested in drafting an outside linebacker in the first round, so Hughes could be out of reach. If he falls to them in the 2nd round however, they will take a long, hard look at him.

Ricky Sapp – Clemson, 6’4″ 266

Sapp is another athletic defensive end who will transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has fantastic size and speed, both comparable to Demarcus Ware, and had a terrific outing at the combine. Did not really have impressive sack numbers during his collegiate career, but certainly has the intangibles that pro teams look for in a 3-4 outside linebacker prospect. He could go anywhere within rounds 2 through 4, and could get interest from the Cowboys.

George Selvie – South Florida, 6’3″ 252

Selvie is a prospect who really fell off the map after posting 14 sacks in the 2007 season. His drop-off in production was partly due to nagging injuries. The emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul on the Bulls’s defensive line also took alot of eyes off of Selvie. Regardless of his recent drop-off, Selvie has intriguing size and upside that will draw the interest of any defensive coordinator looking to add athleticism to his defense. I could see Selvie going in the late 3rd round to 4th round range, which is certainly within the range that Dallas would likely pull the trigger on an outside linebacker project.

Koa Misi – Utah, 6’3″ 251

Misi is one more intriguing ‘tweener prospect amongst a very deep class of pass rushing athletes in this year’s draft. He showed his athleticism at the combine in the vertical jump and the 3-cone drill. Like Selvie, Misi did not accumulate impressive sack numbers in 2009, but was plenty active and racked up plenty of tackles. Also like all the other prospects named in this article, Misi possesses the intangibles to be a force at the 3-4 outside linebacker position. He is projected to go anywhere within rounds 2 or 3. Like the other prospects, look for the Cowboys to consider him if he is on the board after round 1.

Weekly Game Balls: Week 12

Some say we shouldn’t celebrate the Cowboys winning ways just yet. Some people think its too soon to start playing playoff parties. Personally, I don’t really care. I am proud of the Cowboys and despite their past December history, I believe we are headed to the playoffs. Their destiny lies in their own hands, and here are a couple of guys who helped earn the victory this past week.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Miles Austin.

Austin is currently leading the team in touchdowns and receiving yards. His 824 receiving yards puts him 13th in the league. He is well on his way to a 1000+ yard season.

On Thanksgiving, Miles totaled 145 yards on 7 receptions and one touchdown.

Lets hope he can keep it up through the rough month of December!

Go “Smiles”!

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Anthony Spencer.

Spencer has come very close to getting a game ball several times already this season, but his outstanding performance on Thanksgiving day left him standing tall above the rest.

Spencer had 6 tackles, 2 assists and 2 sacks. The Raiders game plan had them double-teaming DeMarcus Ware leaving Spencer room to roam and attack.

Keep on sackin’ Spencer!

Star50

Way to go to Austin and Spencer!

Honorable Mention: Jason Witten (5 receptions, 107 yards), Felix Jones (7 carries, 68 yards, 1 TD), Keith Brooking (6 tackles, 3 assists)

Weekly Game Balls: Week 10

Honestly, I didn’t even want to give away a game ball this week. Truly standout performances were non-existent and hard to find. And while some may argue that Roy Williams and his 105 yards deserved the honor, it clearly illustrates why numbers alone does not dictate a solid performance.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Dallas Cowboys Fans.

After four straight wins, we knew it would be a tough challenge for the Cowboys in Lambeau Field, but nobody could have predicted such an impotent display of offense against the Packers.

We deserved better… and though at times the Cowboys showed some fight, most of the time they were getting pushed around and knocked to the ground as evidenced by the five sacks on Tony Romo.

So for your unwavering support and undying loyalty, we are pleased to award you the fans this weeks Game Ball.

Thanks for always supporting the Silver and Blue through good times and bad.

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to DeMarcus Ware.

This one was a lot easier than the offensive game ball, and I thank DeMarcus for that.

Ware is back to his old self and registered two more punishing sacks against the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.

He added six tackles to his tally and once again he has become one of the most feared linebackers in the NFL.

Quarterbacks Be-Ware!!!

Star50

Way to go to Ware and Cowboys fans!

Honorable Mention: Anthony Spencer, Mat McBriar

Chemistry Is A Great Thing

Unfortunately, I have not been able to get to my blog this week until now. But I feel with the win we had last week, I have to write something. I am on cloud 9 right now. Our Dallas Cowboys are finally looking like they care. Like they know they have the pieces in place to win a championship. Yes, you and I have all known this for a few years now, but I really believe it is starting to sink in to them. With that said, what a great game it was last Sunday.

Once again Tony Romo had a great performance going 21/34 for 307 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Even with all the talk about Roy Williams and how his chemistry with Romo was not there yet, in my opinion he had his best game yet catching 5 passes for 75 total yards. Patrick Crayton stepped up and had 2 receptions for 74 yards. Jason Whitten had the biggest catch of the game in the fourth quarter with 2 minutes to go giving Dallas a first down and solidifying the win, but finishing the day with 7 catches for 43 yards. Miles Austin once again made a strong statement as to who the real number one receiver is by catching only one pass but taking it 49 yards for what turned out to be a game winning touchdown. Ogletree, Barber and Choice all combined for a total of 6 catches for 66 total yards. Once again proving that the chemistry is not only there with Roy; but with the whole team.

We did not have our best running game with only 23 rushes for a total of 76 yards and one touchdown (by Tashard Choice)  averaging only 3.3 yards per carry and 2 tackles lost for 5 yards. Our 3rd down efficiency was not our best but not our worst going 7/15 at 46%. We finished the day with 61 total plays (including the 4 sacks for 25 yards) averaging 5.9 yards per play for a total of 358 net yards. In my opinion, an all in all a good performance.

th_celebrate-1

Once again our defense stepped up and had an outstanding performance. I wrote an article a few weeks back about our defense and the plan that our head coach Wade Phillips had for them and how he would give his expert opinion on things that needed to be done to improve the defense. Well, it turns out that Wade Phillips might actually know a thing or 2 about defense in the NFL. Although Demarcus Ware did not get a sack in this game, his presence alone made the Eagles think twice about what they wanted to do. He had 3 tackles and assisted on another. Jay Ratliff lead the team with 2 sacks and 5 tackles while Victor Butler had a sack and tackle himself.

Everyone talked about last season how our corners and safety’s always got beat deep and if anyone wanted to beat the Cowboys just go deep. Well our secondary has proven to everyone, THAT IS NOT TRUE!!!!!!! Terence Newman was once again a shut down CB that had a total of 4 tackles. On the other side of the field Mike Jenkins stepped up and had 2 tackles and one interception.  But the defensive performer of the day was our SS Gerald Sensabaugh with a total of 6 tackles and an interception.

Our defense held the Eagles to 4/12 3rd down attempts keeping it at only 33%. Stopping them on a critical 4th and inches play and taking over on downs. Our defends held them to 3.7 yards per rushing attempt and only 5.2 average yards per offensive play keeping them under 300 total yards of offense on the day.  Time of possession was pretty close throughout the game with the Cowboys having the edge at 31:44 to the Eagles 28:16. At the end of the day, the better team won. What do you say we go into Green Bay this week and continue our winning streak and come back home on a high note!

Weekly Game Balls: Week 9

Riding high on a four game winning streak feels pretty good, doesn’t it! What a great game last Sunday night, it was a perfect example of a team coming together for a victory against an intense rivalry. The teamwork executed by the Cowboys made it even harder to choose game balls this week. Of course, that’s a great problem to have. In the words of Coach Phillips, “Everybody made plays when the game was on the line.”

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Marion Barber.

Marion Barber only rushed 12 times for 50 yards, but the true reason he is receiving this week’s game ball is for what he did in the last offensive drive of the game.

According to a story told by Keith Brooking, Barber came up to the defensive players on the sidelines and said:

‘I got this, the last offensive series. Don’t you worry guys.’

He was telling his teammates that he was going to seal the deal. He knew they had worked hard and he was guaranteeing them their work was done and the win was secure.

Barber did as promised and ran three consecutive plays accumulating 23 yards.

Now that may not do anything for his fantasy ratings but in my book that makes him clutch.

Thanks for your hard work Barber!

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Jay Ratliff.

Can you say BEAST?

Jay Ratliff finished the day with 5 tackles and 2 sacks for losses of 17 yards.

I also enjoyed the story about him getting into it with Wade Phillips.

Wade Phillips told reporters a story from halftime…

“At halftime, we came in and he says, ‘My fault on the running game,’” Phillips recalled about Ratliff. “And I said, ‘No it isn’t your fault.’ He jumps back at me and said ‘ITS MY FAULT’ I said, ‘Ok it’s your fault.’ But he said he would get it corrected. And sure enough they had 16 yards rushing in the second half, so it wasn’t all his fault, he played some things different second half than he did in first half.”

Keep howling J-Rat!

Star50

Way to go to Barber and Ratliff!

Honorable Mention: Roy Williams with 5 catches and 75 yards, Gerald Sensabaugh with 6 tackles and an interception, and Mike Jenkins for just being awesome and making me shout ‘JENKS’ several times each game after he makes an amazing play.

Romo Spreads the Love As the Cowboys Win 38-17

Tony Romo and the Cowboys had an excellent outing at home against the Seahawks winning 38-17.

The defense and special teams looked outstanding and the offense used all of their weapons.

Touchdowns: Sam Hurd, Marion Barber, Roy Williams, Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton

Sacks: Keith Brooking, DeMarcus Ware, Bobby Carpenter

Patrick Crayton returned a punt for a touchdown for the second week in a row.

Outstanding play all around! How bout them Cowboys!

Weekly Game Balls: Week 7

How ’bout them Cowboys! Huge win for our boys in blue and silver last Sunday.This win might be a sign of things to come.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Miles Austin, again.

How can we deny another game ball to him two games in a row? Miles is proving why we got rid of T.O.

Austin has the game breaking speed and excellent route running that the Cowboys have been lacking for a while.

Austin finished the day with 171 yards on only six catches. He scored two touchdowns along the way. The speedster from little known Monmouth University has given the teams of the NFL a reason to take notice.

We should give Jerry Jones some credit for finding 2 diamonds in the rough. Miles and Tony.

Great work once again Miles!

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to DeMarcus Ware.

The sack flood gates have opened!

The Cowboys sackmaster celebrated his new deal with two sacks and heavy quarterback pressure for the whole game.

Ware also had a forced fumble.

He is a leader on defense and deserved every penny Jerry paid for him.

DeMarcus also finished the day with 2 solo tackles. He is the cornerstone of the new improved defense.

All quarterbacks should be running for their football lives. DeMarcus is here to stay.

Star50

Congratulations to Austin and Ware for their great contribution to the victory.

Honorable Mention: Tony Romo, Mike Jenkins

Finally It All Comes Together

For the first time all season everything came together for the Dallas Cowboys. On Sunday playing against the Atlanta Falcons the Cowboys played a complete game.

Yes, a complete game. The offense was clicking. Romo threw for over 300 yards and went 21 of 29. Miles Austin showed up again with over 100 yards and two touchdowns. The defense came through with four sacks and two turnovers, and the special teams was outstanding. Patrick Crayton ran back a punt for 77 yards and a touchdown and he caught a touchdown as well.

We still had eight penalties in the game, but other than that all phases of the game were clicking. Although we did not have a 100 yard rusher, all backs combined for over a 100 yards.

The Cowboys finally showed us what they are capable of and boy was it nice. I was so happy to see them play so well against a good team. I guess the bye week was good to us and the Cowboys.

With the Giants losing on Sunday, winning this game was huge. Not only did we gain some ground on the Giants, but we beat a team that we may be fighting with down the road to get into the playoffs. This one was really nice! Now bring on the Seahawks we are ready to win another one! GO COWBOYS!

Falcons Cowboys

Week 7: Cowboys 37 – Falcons 21

Cowboys take win #4 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Tony Romo went 21 of 29 for 311 yards and three touchdowns.

Miles Austin had another career game recording 171 yards on 6 catches and two touchdowns.

Patrick Crayton had one touchdown on offense and one on special teams after returning a punt for 73 yards.

Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick both had interceptions and Demarcus Ware had two sacks.

Full recap to follow.

Weekly Game Balls: Week 3

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Tashard Choice.

The quickness and toughness he showed against the Panthers defense made him an easy “Choice”. On any other team Choice would easily be an every down back. The Cowboy’s depth in the backfield was on full display Monday night.

It’s really fun to watch his signature “T.C.” every time he scores a touchdown.

Choice had 82 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown, he also had a 2 point conversion. He also hauled in a remarkable 8 catches for another 36 yards.

Although the injuries to Marion and Felix sadden me, we don’t miss a beat when Tashard Choice is on the field, and that truly shows the remarkable depth we have at running back.

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Terence Newman.

T-New sealed the game for us with his interception returned 27 yards for a touchdown. Terence finished the night with only 3 tackles but he did cause a fumble. This one was close with Victor Butler who also forced a fumble and recorded two sacks.

Despite missing several tackles in a shaky first half, Newman bounced back and kept the Panthers’ top receiver Steve Smith in check.

“Before the game we talked about how our defensive line and linebackers did their job last week and how we didn’t do our job,” Newman said. “So I told them ‘Hey it’s on us. We’ve got to shut these guys down.’ We let this team down last week and we have to make up for it this week.”

Star50

Congratulations to Tashard and Terence for their outstanding play.

Runners-up: Victor Butler, Patrick Crayton