I recently got into a conversation about breakfast cereals. Let’s be honest here there are some that you love and some that you hate. Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Excellent. Honey Combs? Not so much. Ultimately we decided that Apple Jacks are pretty universally well liked and if you disagree well then you are obviously wrong.
Hopefully we can all agree on who the Greatest 54 in Dallas Cowboys History is. The list is a little shorter than most, but there are two here who we all know and love.
The Following Players Have All Worn 54 For The Dallas Cowboys:
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
This might be our most loaded list yet, and I’m just talking about two guys: Chuck Howley and Randy White. Between these two Cowboys we’ve got:
- 27 seasons played for the Dallas Cowboys
- 137.5 Sacks
- 15 Pro Bowl Selections
- 14 First-Team All-Pro Selections
- 5 NFC Championships
- 2 Super Bowl Victories
- 2 Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards
- 2 Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Memberships
- 1 Bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH
1959 was not kind to Chuck Howley of the Chicago Bears. He suffered what appeared to be a career-ending knee injury and he thought his football days were over. Howley decided to make a comeback in 1961 and Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys thought he’d be a perfect fit for his “Doomsday Defense”.
It wasn’t until 1963 when Chuck moved to the weakside linebacker spot. It was here that his incredible speed, since healed from his injury, allowed him to shine. Howley had a knack for being around the ball and became quite the interception artist.
Super Bowl MVP
Howley’s finest hour perhaps came on the Sunday of Super Bowl V. This #54 had two interceptions AND recovered a fumble…all in a losing effort as the Baltimore Colts outlasted the Dallas Cowboys. In response to his incredible performance, Chuck Howley was named the MVP of Super Bowl V…despite playing for the losing team. This was the first time in the Super Bowl era that a defensive player was graced with the award and is still the only time in NFL History that a member of the losing team received it.
Chuck Howley and the Dallas Cowboys showed extreme resilience the following season and made it back to play in Super Bowl VI. Howley of course played brilliantly, recovering a fumble and returning, surprise, another interception 41 yards.
Chuck Howley: Cowboy Legend
All in all the Cowboys had 13 wonderful seasons with Chuck Howley on the roster. He gave them an extreme defensive effort and was a ball hawk in an era where passing wasn’t done at the volume that it is today. He was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1977 (the year the Cowboys won their second Super Bowl) and has yet to receive his well-deserved Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket.
In 1975 Gil Brandt and the Dallas Cowboy group had a lot of thoughts regarding the second overall pick in the draft. It essentially boiled down to two options, Jackson State’s Walter Payton or Maryland’s Randy White. The Cowboys went with Randy (and ended up with Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett in 1977 so it all worked out) and never looked back.
Randy White started his Cowboy Career backing up the Greatest 55 in Dallas Cowboys History, Lee Roy Jordan, at middle linebacker. Randy hadn’t necessarily lived up to expectations and Tom Landry decided to put his hand in the dirt and move him to defensive tackle in his third season.
Half Man-Half Monster: The Manster
Holy all things football did Randy White belong at defensive tackle. Nicknamed “The Manster” Randy White was indeed half man and half monster. The Manster was fully on showcase in 1977…he was named to his first All-Pro Team, took a trip to the Pro Bowl, AND won Super Bowl XII. Randy’s performance in the Super Bowl was so incredible that, on his 25th birthday, he was named Co-MVP with teammate, the Greatest 79 in Dallas Cowboys History, Harvey Martin. This is the only time in NFL History that two people have shared the Super Bowl MVP award, which adds another sense of uniqueness to Randy’s career.
Randy White: Cowboy Legend
White would go on to continue to flourish in the blue and silver. In 14 seasons he missed only one game and accumulated over 1,100 tackles (701 solo). The Manster retired after the 1988 season, which ultimately also proved to be Tom Landry’s last, and rode off into the NFL sunset. In 1994 Randy White joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame and his legacy was immortalized.
The Greatest 54 In Dallas Cowboys History
It’s very obvious that there is a lot to consider here. Both of these gentlemen gave the Dallas Cowboys all that they had and earned an enormous amount of accolades along the way. Well here’s one more.
Chuck Howley and Randy White are BOTH the Greatest 54 in Dallas Cowboys History
The number 54 is arguably, save for 88, the greatest number to ever be worn in Dallas Cowboys History. Chuck Howley and Randy White each established their own legacies in the number and both put it on the level of greatness that it resides. Like Randy White’s Super Bowl MVP it only felt right to have Co-54s as Chuck Howley has his own MVP. They each have unique circumstances regarding those awards with Randy sharing his and Chuck being the only player to receive it on a losing team. Let’s add one more level of unique and have these two share the number for all of time.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 53 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
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