Happy Dallas Cowboys Day!
That’s right, baby. America’s Team is playing in a 60-minute long game of football this evening. The game will take place at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, which will play host to the most primetime event of the 2015 NFL season… Super Bowl 50.
As we continue our Countdown To Kickoff series with the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History, the current Dallas Cowboys will hope to ride the waves of success generated by their current 21 into the primetime lights.
Part of that process will happen tonight as the Cowboys look to fine tune their roster and see which players they want to carry into the regular season on their quest to Super Bowl 50. Before that happens we’re going to establish just who is the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 21 For The Dallas Cowboys:
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
The 1989 NFL Draft gave us the flashiest player to ever enter the NFL - Deion Sanders. The former Florida State Seminole was beginning a professional baseball career with the New York Yankees, but he was also one of the finest cornerback prospects to ever enter the NFL.
At the NFL Combine teams that are considering drafting players conduct interviews with them where they ask a series of questions, regarding football or anything in general. Deion famously would not show up to his interviews with teams not picking in the top 10 because they had “no shot at getting him,” as Deion was surely going in the top five.
The Atlanta Falcons did in fact spend the fifth overall pick on Deion Sanders and the lights of the NFL all gravitated towards its newest star.
Sanders paid off his high price when he returned the first punt that he fielded for a touchdown. That was the thing about Deion, he was so gifted as an overall athlete that he could do far more than just play the corner position.
Deion spent five years in the ATL establishing himself as one of the game’s biggest playmakers. He developed into the most feared corner throughout the league. He was so quick and so athletic that he literally took up an entire half of the field with his coverage.
The San Francisco 49ers signed Deion to a one-year contract entering the 1994 season. He brought his usual greatness as he returned three interceptions for touchdowns that season. One of the greater things about Deion, if you were on the right side of this, was his celebrations down the sideline. After he’d pick you off he would dance his way all to the endzone, high-steppin’ the whole way. He and his wild personality helped the 49ers beat the Cowboys in that NFC Championship Game and win Super Bowl XXIX.
Entering the 1995 season Deion Sanders was yet again a free agent. He was the hottest commodity on the market and he was commanding amounts of money that proved that. The Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers all wanted #21 on their roster.
Jerry Jones is a businessman like no other. When starting cornerback Kevin Smith was lost to injury early in the 1995 season, Mr. Jones knew that the acquisition of Deion would now be more than a prize… it became a necessity. Jerry wooed Deion down to Dallas, finally settling on a then-record seven year contract worth $35 million dollars.
Deion didn’t make his Cowboy debut until Week 9 of the 1995 season, a game that was played against his original team… the Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys trumped Atlanta and began to pick up momentum towards the playoffs.
Deion only recorded 2 interceptions in the 1995 season, but his effect was certainly felt. In Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers the mere threat of Deion forced Neil O’Donnell elsewhere… and in the direction of Larry Brown, who picked off O’Donnell twice.
Sanders and the Cowboys were champions, and in a Cowboy uniform Deion had developed into an even bigger megastar. Over the course of his career he seemed to have his biggest performances when the lights were brightest and the attention was highest. It was due to this that Deion Sanders generated one of the greatest nicknames in sports history… Primetime.
Primetime was one of the most fun players to watch in his career. He put together 14 interceptions in just 5 years with the Cowboys, but he brought a level of fear to the secondary that influenced the game far beyond any statistic can measure.
21st And Prime
Deion can currently be seen on NFL Network and CBS as he’s a part of the Thursday Night Game crew. His primetime persona has followed him into the tv studio as he’s always got something clever to say. Following all of the games on Sundays he usually picks his top 10 performances of the day and counts them down in his “21st and Prime” segment.
Deion Sanders is arguably the greatest cornerback to ever live, and while his most impressive run was with the Atlanta Falcons he did the number 21 proudly during his time in Dallas. 21 still has an air of “prime” to it and Cowboy fans everywhere are hoping that Joseph Randle can continue that trend as the Cowboys look to have a superb season with him running the rock.
Primetime was one of the greatest showmen that the NFL has ever seen. He is already a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2011, and will forever be someone that people remember across generations of football. 21 may not be a prime number, but the jersey is… and Deion Sanders is the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 20 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys
The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.
Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.
The need for a true WR1
Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.
Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.
Back on top of the NFC East
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.
That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Sean Lee's uncertain future
I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.
The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.
It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.
Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas
El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.
Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.
Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.
A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.
La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?
Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.
A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.
Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.
A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.
Slot Machine: Amari Cooper in the Slot Could be Even More Dangerous
Amari Cooper was a dangerous man with the Dallas Cowboys after he arrived via trade from the Oakland Raiders last season. He was one of the big reasons why they were able to turn around a season that looked as if it was circling the drain and I don't think anybody would argue the point. But, I think he could be even more dangerous in 2019, especially if Cole Beasley departs via free agency.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you pretty much know the topic of the Cowboys offseason so far has centered around Cole Beasley and his future with the organization. He has been invaluable in Dallas since arriving as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but it's looking more and more as if he could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2019.
With Beasley more than likely moving on, the Cowboys will need to find someone who can replace his production in the passing game, especially in the slot. Everybody assumes Dallas needs to go outside the organization to find that player, but I'm not so sure. I think they already have a wide receiver more than capable of stepping in, and he just so happens to be there first-round draft pick this year.
In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has mostly been used as an outside receiver in his professional career, but he does have the skill set and route running ability to be a really dangerous out of the slot. I'm not talking about a full-time move into the slot or anything, just a marginal increase in snaps.
According to Rotounderworld.com, only 12.6% of Amari Cooper's snaps in 2018 were out of the slot. For comparison sake, Cole Beasley's snaps in the slot was 85.9%, the highest of any receiver in the NFL last season. That's a huge difference, not one the Cowboys should try to match with Cooper or any other potential slot WR replacement.
Personally, I'd like to see Cooper's snaps playing out of the slot increased to around 20%. That would put him in Odell Beckham Jr. territory (19.9%), and we all know how difficult he is to cover all over the field. It would likely do the same for Amari Cooper.
I just really like the idea of him having the entire field to work with and the favorable matchup it creates with slot/nickel cornerbacks around the league. Can you imagine opposing defensive coordinators trying to figure out how to contain a player that has the kind of speed and route running ability that Amari Cooper has? They better stock up on Tylenol, because that is a surefire way to get a headache.
This is course is just speculation at this point, especially since we don't know what the Cowboys offense will look like with Kellen Moore taking over the playcalling duties. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything in my power to get the ball in the hands of my best WR, Amari Cooper, and that might mean increasing his snaps out of the slot.
What do you think about using Amari Cooper out of the slot more often in 2019?
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
2019 7-Round Cowboys Mock Draft for the Super Bowl Weekend
Player News2 weeks ago
NFL Honors: Leighton Vander Esch Receives 0 Votes for DROY
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Will Cowboys OT La’el Collins Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
3 Free Agent Targets for the Dallas Cowboys Offense
Player News1 week ago
A Lot Had to Happen for Amari Cooper to Join the Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
2019 Player Watch: Cowboys Should Keep an eye on Kyle Rudolph’s Situation
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Will Cowboys S Jeff Heath Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Will Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?