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Bradie Bunch: #56 Belongs To Bradie James

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Bradie Bunch: #56 Belongs To Bradie James

If you’ve ever seen the cult classic Dodgeball (shout out to Steve the Pirate) then you are pretty familiar with ESPN 8: The Ocho. This is cool for two reasons today of all days: 1) My last name is Ochoa which is just Ocho with an a… pretty sweet, right? 2) There are exactly OCHO weeks that stand between you and some high-octane Dallas Cowboys football going on!

So calm yourself down, grab a dunkaroo (who else misses those?), and settle in. Today we’re talking the Greatest 56 in Dallas Cowboys History.

The Following Players Have All Worn 56 For The Dallas Cowboys:

  • Reggie Barnes, LB
  • Rodrigo Barnes, LB
  • Troy Davis, LB
  • Randall Godfrey, LB
  • Orantes Grant, LB
  • Harold Hays, LB
  • Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, LB
  • Bradie James, LB
  • Eugene Lockhart, LB
  • Bob Long, LB
  • Caleb McSurdy, LB
  • Jack Patera, LB
  • Bill Roe, LB
  • John Roper, LB
  • Thomas Stincic, LB
  • Korey Toomer, LB
  • Jason Vega, DE
  • Dekoda Watson, LB
  • Martez Wilson, LB

There are a lot of great things in life that come in threes: cheers, company, musketeers, blind mice, and the top gentlemen to wear 56 for the Dallas Cowboys.

Bradie James

bradie4

Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson

hollywood1

Eugene Lockhart

eugene1

The Hart Lock 56

We’ll start with Eugene Lockhart (no relation to Professor Lockhart from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). “Mean Gene the Hitting Machine” grew up pretty quickly after Dallas selected him out of the University of Houston in the 6th round of the 1984 NFL Draft.

Lockhart came out of the gate ready to roll and he became the first rookie in franchise history to ever start at middle linebacker.

eugene2

Lockhart donned the blue and silver from 1984-1990 and was one of the better players in a darker time in Cowboys History.

Throughout his 7 years with the club he led the team in sacks 4 times and had more than 100 tackles all but once. Eugene wound up being traded to the New England Patriots by Jimmy Johnson as part of a package that ultimately became the number one overall pick in 1991 (Russell Maryland). His time served under the star was very impressive, but Eugene falls short of the Greatest 56 honor.

56 Goes Hollywood

The 1975 Cowboys Draft Class, aka the Dirty Dozen, has been featured plenty on our Countdown to Kickoff. The 18th pick of that draft was none other than Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson out of Langston University. Now this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but you don’t get the nickname “Hollywood” for being quiet and doing puzzles.

Hollywood was one of the most flamboyant personalities that ever graced Texas Stadium.

As a linebacker, Henderson was unquestionably great, and he showed this by earning the strong side starting gig in 1977… and the Cowboys rode his success - among many others - to their second Super Bowl in franchise history. Thomas was extraordinarily talented on a football field and the Cowboys took every opportunity to give him the ball… even using him as a return man.

Thomas delivered on that investment when he returned a punt 97 yards for a score during his rookie season.

Cowboys Blog -  35

Thomas Henderson was one of the most physically gifted linebackers to ever play, not only for the Cowboys but at the position in general.

While his Cowboy Career spanned only 5 years he made an NFL-wide impact. Lawrence Taylor, arguably the greatest linebacker to ever live, has stated many times that he was inspired to wear 56 by none other than Hollywood. While that tidbit is amazing, unfortunately, it’s not enough to let 56 live in Hollywood permanently.

A Very Bradie 56

It’s hard to believe that the 2003 NFL Draft was twelve years ago. Cornerstone players Jason Witten and Tony Romo strapped on their Cowboy boots that year, but it’s 4th round draft choice Bradie James out of LSU that we’re here to talk about.

bradie2

Like most young linebackers, Bradie James spent some time on the special teams unit and earned his stripes.

When the Cowboys changed to a 3-4 defense in 2005, James became the starting middle linebacker and began to shine as he led the team in tackles. In regards to tackles, Bradie James conquered unchartered territory for the Cowboys as he became the first player to lead the team in this category for 3 straight seasons.

Bradie would add to his streak and eventually lead the team in tackles for 6 straight seasons, setting a franchise record.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) loses his helmet as Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bradie James (56) tackles him during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) loses his helmet as Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bradie James (56) tackles him during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)

Bradie James was a statistical machine. He had 5 straight seasons of 100+ tackles, but he was so much more than that.

James was the leader on the Cowboys defense and a leader in the community. He took the torch of Cowboy linebackers from Dexter Coakley before his time and passed it on to Sean Lee after it. 56 features some formidable competition, but the Greatest 56 in Dallas Cowboys History boils down to the one and only Bradie James.

Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 55 in Dallas Cowboys History is!


Want to share your opinions on who should be featured on our Countdown To Kickoff? Email me at rjochoa@insidethestar.com or Tweet @rjochoa.

Tell us what you think about "Bradie Bunch: #56 Belongs To Bradie James" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Star Blog

If You Could Only Pay One: Ezekiel Elliott Vs. Byron Jones

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys en Español: Proyectando el Roster de 53 Jugadores 2
James D. Smith via AP

Let me first start by saying this is not the case. The Cowboys can find ways to pay both Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones over the next two offseasons, securing leaders on each side of the ball.

But last week a couple of Twitter polls got me very interested in this topic, and I wanted to expand on my thoughts.

It all started when longtime Cowboys reporter Mike Fisher wrote that as the Cowboys look to sign their own free agents, Byron Jones will likely be the one who gets squeezed out. So while Elliott, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, and Jaylon Smith remain with the team, Jones will likely be off to find a new home.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

I put up this poll, pitting Jones against Elliott, and Jones came out as the winner. My colleague John Williams put out the same poll, but with Elliott running away for the victory.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

His had many more votes, which likely makes his poll a bit more representative of the fan base's feelings (which reminds me, follow me on Twitter @KevinBrady88.) Plus, I have been carrying the Byron Jones flag for quite some time, so it's possible my followers are biased towards Jones.

Either way, let's examine the situation here.

On one hand is Ezekiel Elliott. The former fourth overall selection in 2016, Elliott has led the league in rushing two of his first three seasons in the NFL. While this is true, his ability (and usage) as a receiver deserves to be questioned, and his lack of touchdown production in comparison to some other elite-level backs is concerning as well.

Yes, this is not totally his fault, as Scott Linehan and an overall lack of offensive weapons outside of Elliott have handcuffed him a bit. But if we are going to place the blame for his faults onto others, then we should at least attribute some of his excellent raw rushing totals simply to opportunities.

Elliott carried the ball 304 times in 15 games, averaging 20.3 rush attempts per game. The next closet player in terms of total carries? Saquon Barkley, who carried it 261 times in 16 games, averaging 16.3 rushes per game. That's a massive gap.

No individual running back is taking the wear and tear that Elliott is on a per game basis. And while it helps make his raw rushing totals look outstanding, it is also likely hurting his shelf life as an elite runner in the NFL.

The main argument I received supporting paying Elliott over Byron Jones was that while cornerback is more important than running back in a vacuum, Elliott is such a special player that his importance is greater than that of a normal running back.

Maybe. But let's talk about how special Byron Jones is and can be.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Kevin Brady on Twitter

https://t.co/3wwkpl4qM7

Jones' spider chart puts him in elite company, with the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Antonio Cromartie, and Terence Newman. Except, Jones was even more athletic that each of these Pro Bowl caliber cornerbacks.

Cornerbacks with the athletic profile that Byron Jones has rarely ever miss, and most of the time they reach an All Pro level. This is exactly what Jones did in 2018, getting named second team All Pro and to his first Pro Bowl in the same season. Both these honors also came during his first season as a full-time cornerback. Imagine what his ceiling can look like as he continues to work with Kris Richard and get more comfortable in his permanent home.

There's no doubt that Jones struggled a bit more in December last year than he did in September, but he was playing at a pace few players ever have played at or kept up over a long period of time. Even accounting for these "struggles," Jones was graded as the sixth best cornerback in all of football by Pro Football Focus. Elliott, on the other hand, had his overall value questioned by PFF.

Of course PFF is not the be-all-end-all here, but it's certainly a piece of the argument. Both Elliott and Jones will command top money at their position whenever it is their turn to get signed. The Cowboys have struggled for years to find themselves a number one cornerback. Despite paying Brandon Carr big money and trading up for Morris Claiborne, it simply hasn't worked. Really since Newman began aging, they haven't gotten that guy.

On the other hand, Dallas produced two 1,000 yard rushers back-to-back seasons before Elliott even became a Cowboy. Running back is a more replaceable position at the top than cornerback is, and if Dallas believes that Jones should be considered "at the top" of his position group, than the choice between the two becomes clear.

I will say, however, that there is a human element to this as well. Elliott is a clear leader on this team, and if the Cowboys strong-armed him out of town, it could have serious implications across the roster. Jason Garett loves Zeke, Jerry Jones loves Zeke, and quarterback Dak Prescott loves Zeke.

Zeke is going to get paid by the Cowboys, I have no doubts or issues with that, but if all these guys getting paid squeezes an All Pro corner out of town, that could bite this franchise in the butt down the line.



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Star Blog

Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon 1

It seems like every year we talk about how hot is Jason Garrett's seat. This year though, it will be one of the biggest storylines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. Garrett will enter the 2019 season without an extension. However you feel about the Cowboys head coach, being in a contract year automatically means dealing with low job security.

What is clear though is that Garrett's contract year might be a difficult one.

First of all, the Dallas Cowboys haven't managed to get their superstar 26-year old pass rusher signed to a long term deal. DeMarcus Lawrence has made it clear that he will not play under the tag and until a contract is signed, he'll even postpone his pending shoulder surgery.

Cowboys Nation is hoping to see D-Law get his long term deal before it's too late, and as we know, the Cowboys want to sign him. Who wouldn't? But there's a reason it hasn't happened yet and if this drags out, it won't be good for the team. Jason Garrett can't be happy about not having his best defensive player ready to work.

Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

Rather than an unfortunate situation, this feels more like a bold approach by Garrett. After firing Scott Linehan, the Cowboys promoted Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator. Moore's potential has since been praised by players and coaches around the country and I'm actually excited about what he can bring to the table. But he's still a rookie OC. Young coaches like Sean McVay have taken the league by storm but it still feels like a bold move by Garrett to put Moore in this position. This was undoubtedly a Jason Garrett move and it only makes sense for the Cowboys to let him put together his own staff before the season.

Under the "Cowboys are one player away" narrative, many believed a big free agency signing was bound to happen in Dallas. Specifically, the discussion revolved around one of the newest members of the Baltimore Ravens, Safety Earl Thomas. So far, though, it's been same old, same old for the Cowboys during the start of free agency. Top free agents are off the shelves and Dallas has been pretty quiet so far.

Also worth noting is that the Cowboys will not have a first round pick during the 2019 NFL Draft. Now granted, that first round pick they don't have was worth it thanks to Amari Cooper's arrival but it's still a difficult situation for a football team that has many needs, including one at wide receiver after letting Cole Beasley leave for the Buffalo Bills.

A potential holdout by DeMarcus Lawrence, a rookie offensive coordinator, no splash in free agency and no first round pick... Jason Garrett's approach to his contract year certainly seems like a risky one. Not to mention this is only what we're talking about now. What if Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott or Cooper decide to holdout (even if it's just for a while and eventually come back)? Hopefully this isn't the case, but with the way things go in the NFL today it wouldn't be a surprise.

The Dallas Cowboys will play in an NFC East that might sound like an easy division but surprises happen every single year. If Jason Garrett manages to lead his team to a successful season under such circumstances, he should earn the respect of many fans that want him out of the picture. The question will of course be: "How much does he needs to accomplish to keep his job?" Will making it to the playoffs be enough? Or will he need to make a bigger statement?

Tell me what you think about "Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

Brian Martin

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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

The hits keep coming for the New Orleans Saints. Not only are their fans extremely disappointed in the way the Saints 2018 season ended, and rightfully so, but now they have to deal with the fact that one of their best offensive players has decided to retire. Ouch!

Field Yates on Twitter

Source: Saints C Max Unger has retired. Wow.

No matter how you slice it, Max Unger's decision to retire is a huge blow to the Saints offense. The three-time Pro Bowl center is still one of the best in the game at his position and he's a huge reason why New Orleans has been so successful on the offensive side of the ball since he joined the team in 2015.

Unger's ability to keep the middle of the pocket from collapsing on Quarterback Drew Brees, while also blocking for Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the running game is the lifeblood of the Saints offense. Without him, the entire offense could be in trouble. Finding someone to step in and fill those huge shoes won't be easy.

As luck would have it, the Dallas Cowboys may have the answer to their problems. Joe Looney had to step in and replace Travis Frederick, another one of the top centers in the NFL, and filled in admirably during his absence. He could do the same thing for the New Orleans Saints.

With Frederick set to return to the Cowboys starting lineup in 2019, Looney suddenly becomes nothing more than a backup C/G once again. Because of that, he could become expendable, making him an intriguing tradable asset for teams looking for a starting caliber offensive lineman with versatility to play any interior position. This could be exactly the kind of player the Saints are targeting.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, they don't have a lot of draft capital in the 2019 NFL Draft to find a starting caliber center. Like the Cowboys, they don't have a first-round pick this year and don't make their first selection until the second-round. After that, they don't have another draft pick until the fifth-round. This further complicates replacing Unger as well as trading for anyone, such as Joe Looney.

It's highly unlikely the Saints are willing to part ways with their second-round pick and the Cowboys would probably want more for Joe Looney than a fifth-rounder. Looney after all has proven to be a serviceable starter, which is probably more valuable for Dallas considering the unknown about Travis Frederick's health moving forward.

So, even if the New Orleans Saints picked up the phone and called the Dallas Cowboys to acquire about trading for Joe Looney, I just don't think the two teams would be able to come together on trade compensation. I guess that means we can put this potential trade rumor to bed.



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