That sweet smell in the air is college football. We’ve officially made it.
Burgers are on the grill, queso is on the table, and a football is in the air. Football season in general is a sight for sore eyes after a long offseason filled with basketball, baseball, and a game of chess or two.
One week from today will be Dallas Cowboys Football Eve which means that in exactly 8 days the ‘Boys hit the field for real. As per usual around these parts we’re continuing our Countdown To Kickoff series with the Greatest 8 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 8 For The Dallas Cowboys:
- Troy Aikman^, QB
- Buzz Sawyer, P
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
When you draft a quarterback with the number one overall pick, there is an expectation of him – bring our franchise to glory.
Glory is defined in many ways. Obviously the hope is that your number one pick has a career filled with personal achievements: Pro Bowls, passing titles, maybe even a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. More than anything though, the hope is that as a franchise’s number one overall pick you can bring them a Super Bowl victory.
In the Super Bowl era there have been, including 2015’s Jameis Winston, 21 quarterbacks have been taken first overall. 3 of them are currently in the Hall of Fame, but are there any guesses as to how many of them won a Super Bowl for their franchise? Anyone? Bueller? 5.
To be fair, Jim Plunkett (taken first overall in 1971) would eventually lead the Raiders to victory in Super Bowls XV and XVIII, but the New England Patriots were the ones who drafted him. The five quarterbacks are: Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and the Greatest 8 in Dallas Cowboys History.
After an illustrious high school career in Henryetta, Oklahoma Troy Aikman had a few options. The New York Mets offered him a contract to play baseball, and even though the University of Miami’s Jimmy Johnson recruited him to play there it only made sense for Troy Aikman to play collegiately at the University of Oklahoma for Barry Switzer.
During his first season as starter for the Sooners Troy played well. Victories over Minnesota, Kansas State, and Texas set up a showdown against the Miami Hurricanes and Jimmy Johnson.
The late Jerome Brown, then Hurricane and future Philadelphia Eagle, broke Troy Aikman’s ankle… making him lost for the season. The Sooners would go on to win the National Championship under new quarterback Jamelle Holieway, and Aikman was looking to transfer.
Even though Jimmy Johnson once again tried to lure Aikman to Miami, Troy headed to the west coast and after a redshirt year began play for the UCLA Bruins. After two successful seasons, Troy was the apple of the NFL eye. He was thought to be the first overall pick in the 1989 Draft… the pick belonging to Jimmy Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys.
Troy And The Cowboys
The third time is the charm, right? Jimmy Johnson finally got his quarterback when the Dallas Cowboys selected Troy Aikman number one overall in 1989.
As is usually the case for rookie quarterbacks that first year was tough. 1,749 yards, 9 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and an 0-11 record to be specific.
After getting more adjusted to the NFL game in 1990, Troy took off in 1991 and began a streak of 6 consecutive Pro Bowls. The Cowboys as a team experienced their own success and even won a playoff game. The stage was set for 1992.
1992: The Birth Of A Dynasty
In 1992 Troy Aikman threw for 3,445 yards and 23 touchdowns, marks that would be his career highs. He led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, which gave them a first round bye in the playoffs. After a divisional round win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Aikman and the Cowboys had to get past the team of the 80s to get to Super Bowl XXVII – the San Francisco 49ers.
Troy was magnificent in the contest throwing for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns. With a narrow lead late in the fourth quarter, the Dallas Cowboys had the ball. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner asked Jimmy Johnson if he wanted to throw or run on the all-important series. Jimmy Johnson responded, “I want to score.”
The call was 896 F Flat. It called for one wide receiver to run a post route (where Michael Irvin had been all day) and one to run a curl route (this was Alvin Harper’s job). Throughout the day the 49ers had never given Troy a chance to throw to the post (the deeper route) so he would check the ball down to the lower spot at the curl route.
With the game on the line every big-time receiver wants the ball. So when Troy called “896 F Flat” Michael Irvin went over to the curl route. He was not taking any chances letting Alvin Harper make this play with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.
Upon getting to the line of scrimmage Aikman noticed that the 49ers were showing blitz – which indicated that the ball should go to the post route. The ball had to be placed perfectly. When the 49ers blitzed, Alvin Harper would have a chance to cut into the middle of the field… with open field in front of him.
Troy hiked the ball and delivered it squarely between the numbers, hitting Alvin in full stride as he sprinted on downfield to help set up the Cowboys game-clinching score. A throw of that magnitude, of that precision, with that much on the line could have only been executed by Troy Aikman.
The Dallas Cowboys would go on to win Super Bowl XXVII by a score of 52-17. This 50-burger was fueled by Troy Aikman’s 4 touchdowns, making him the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The following year Troy Aikman was arguably the most precise passer in the NFL with 3,100 yards, 15 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a league-leading 69.1 completion percentage. Once again the Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl and were now back-to-back Champions of the World.
In 1994 the Dallas Cowboys coaching regime changed from Jimmy Johnson to Troy Aikman’s former Sooners coach, Barry Switzer. The season ended in heartbreak at Candlestick Park, but the resilient Cowboys battled back in 1995.
Troy’s high-level accuracy continued when he was only intercepted 1.6% of the times that he attempted to throw a pass, a category in which he led the league.
The Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX giving them World Championships in three out of four years… a dynasty.
Troy Aikman was one third of the greatest trio in NFL History. While he was an outstanding, and Hall of Fame, quarterback… his talents were made greater with the likes of Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith as his two primary offensive weapons.
Aikman could drop back and pass to Irvin or hand off to Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher, and command a game like no other. This nucleus was a large reason why the Dallas Cowboys were able to sustain their dynasty in the 1990s, and it was led by quarterback Troy Aikman.
#8: Troy Aikman
The career resume of Troy Aikman includes:
- 6-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)
- 3-Time Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
- Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Winner (1996)
- 94 Career Wins (1st in Dallas Cowboys History among quarterbacks)
- 2,898 Completions (1st in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 32,942 Passing Yards (2nd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 165 Passing Touchdowns (2nd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 2005
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2006
Troy Aikman has continued his football life as he has moved from behind the center up to the broadcast booth. He serves as the lead analyst for Fox’s lead broadcast team, partnered up with Joe Buck. He has served on the call for four Super Bowls (XXXIX, XLII, XLV, and XLVIII) since becoming the lead analyst in 2005.
The pressures of being a number one overall pick can be daunting, the expectations are even larger. It takes an incredible person to handle it all with such resolve. Troy Aikman didn’t just handle these pressures - he exceeded them. He delivered 3 Super Bowls to the Dallas Cowboys, re-establishing them as one of the NFL's premiere franchises, and earning him a spot in the hearts of Cowboys fans forever.
With a multitude of achievements already to his name, allow us to add one more. Troy Aikman is the Greatest 8 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 7 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army
It doesn’t take a lot to cause an overreaction in the NFL, and fans and the media alike can be very fickle. Thus, when the Dallas Cowboys were beaten by the Carolina Panthers in week one the discussions surrounding their title credentials began, and even more so because Dak Prescott and his Cowboys offense was only able to score 8 points. He left the stadium still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season and wondering what went wrong.
By all accounts, Prescott wasn’t great, and his quarterback rating of 81.1 reflects that. His performance left the fans concerned and some asserting there were no shades of the Prescott of 2016. Nonetheless, a quarterback has to be helped by his offensive line, and allowing him to get sacked six times shows that improvement is needed up front.
In week 2, against the New York Giants, Prescott started the game with a booming 64-yard touchdown pass to WR Tavon Austin on the first series of the game. It was a play four whole quarters of football in the making and made fans explode in celebration following the lackluster performance against CAR. Prescott's rating jumped to 95.4 and he wasn't sacked during the contest. Even still, he threw the ball for 10 fewer yards than in week 1 and was 1.5% less on his completion percentage too.
Prescott’s best defense is the Cowboys' lack of stand-out wide receivers. The loss of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant – neither of whom has adequately been replaced – is the biggest cause of this perceived fall from grace. Those departures have undeniably created a problem, but one that many great quarterbacks over the years have managed to overcome.
While the doom and gloom felt by Cowboys Nation after week 1 has abated some with a victory over New York, for a franchise that has enjoyed the often wow-worthy play of Tony Romo, Dak Prescott has a way to go yet, to say the least.
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The current situation is difficult for the Cowboys, but there are also psychological mitigations. One of these is their presence in a division with the reigning Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles.
This has long since put the Cowboys on the back foot in the futures betting markets, with an average moneyline price of +210 that makes them the least likely team to win the NFC East division. Unlike betting on individual games themselves, the futures market is a starker reflection of a team's form, rather than the more reactionary moneyline prices on individual games.
Criticism, from experts and fans alike, always intensifies after a defeat, and starting the season off at 1-1 isn't always enough to overcome said criticism. So too will the moneyline price of the Cowboys besting the Eagles lengthen, although the rewards for keeping faith in the Cowboys to do that – if they somehow do – will be all the more greater if they proceed to underachieve.
On this episode, we are joined by Jon Cassel, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, to discuss each team in the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles) going into the 2018 season. SUBSCRIBE to T2F for more football content! SUPPORT us through Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Time2Football Follow us on social media!
Dak Prescott Needs Support Like Never Before
The likes of Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns aren’t going to be reaching the Hall of Fame, but they are more than capable of helping Dallas score more than 8 points in a game. Take away the opening-drive shot from week 2, the only TD pass Dak has thrown in 2018, and the Cowboys scored just 13 points against the Giants. It's hardly confidence inspiring, yet.
There have been numerous points so far where the Prescott of 2016 would have found the receiver, but for whatever reason, those throws just aren’t being made with any consistency right now. That is especially bad considering the breathing room that is given by an elite level running back, which can be found in the form of Ezekiel Elliott.
Zeke got the ball 15 times for 69 yards against CAR and 17 times for 78 yards against NYG, both of which have to be less than he would have liked. Yet, the Panthers were out to stop him, specifically, and the Cowboys offensive line couldn’t cope, which allowed Elliott to lack effectiveness and their quarterback to be put to the ground half a dozen times. The opening drive against the Giants certainly helped alleviate pressure on Prescott, but it's clear that the defense beat the Giants, overall.
These, however, are problems that an offensive coordinator needs to overcome, and Scott Linehan didn’t cover himself in glory either.
Ultimately, above all else, there seems to be a bit of disunity within the offense. The receivers feel unloved, the running backs face a lot of defenders on each play, and the quarterback must improve his accuracy.
These situations are where you need creative play calling and a unique approach.
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Spirit of 2016 Can Still Make an Impact
With every defeat, the next game is hugely important, in the mind if not on paper. If the Cowboys can step up and convincingly rack up some wins, then – as ever – it will start to go quiet.
One aspect that sometimes goes overlooked is the defense. Conceding 16 points against Carolina and 13 against New York should usually be more than low enough to secure a win. Thus, if the Cowboys keep up that level of performance, then they should win a lot more games than they lose. But that's because most offenses in the NFL are capable of scoring 20-or-more points a game. With the Cowboys defense performing as they have been thus far, the onus is on the offense the close out games.
There's a reason the quarterback position is regarded far above all others, and Prescott needs to carry the team with him to keep that winning feeling in the Cowboys’ locker room.
He needs to give the opposition’s defensive line more to think about, and make them fear the pass as much as Elliott’s or his own rushing ability. That will give his receivers more confidence and Elliott more space. If his offensive line isn’t doing its job then he and Linehan need to think of ways to get the ball out quickly and on target.
Doom and gloom often surrounds any first loss of a season, but if Prescott and Elliott can work together as they did in their first win of the season, then it’s going to be very hard to beat them, especially if their defense keeps playing to such high standards as they have.
Regardless, the Super Bowl is anything but a lock at this point, and the problems need to be fixed quickly, before "distant" becomes mathematically "impossible."
Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?
In a somewhat confusing move, the Dallas Cowboys decided to re-add Wide Receiver Brice Butler to the roster in order to get something more out of the passing game, which to be honest has been pretty putrid in the first two games of the 2018 season. Something needed to be done, but I'm not sure that Butler is the answer.
I'm going to agree with my fellow Staff Writer, Jess Haynie, in saying that the Cowboys decision to reunite with Brice Butler makes no sense. Jess is actually much more polite than I would've been when I initially found out about this transaction. I personally hate the move and I'm not afraid to say it. But ultimately, it wasn't my decision to make and the only thing that really matters here is whether or not Butler can help improve the passing game?
With all of the questions surrounding the Cowboys receivers, Butler's addition just adds another one. Unfortunately, we are two games into the 2018 season and the receiver position still remains the biggest unknown. No one has really stepped up their game and with the exception of Tavon Austin's touchdown catch last week, there hasn't been any big plays in the passing game.
I don't really know how Brice Butler is supposed to improve things. Is he supposed to be the "go to" receiver now? Is he any better than what the Cowboys already have on the roster? Or, will he end up being more of a progress stopper? Like I said, he just adds more questions to be answered.
I for one don't see any upside in adding Butler. Yes, Quarterback Dak Prescott has a bond with him, but nothing ever really materialized there when #19 was here previously. He showed flashes, like he has at all of his stops in the NFL, but his inconsistencies couldn't convince the coaching staff to play him more. So, what's changed?
The obvious answer here would be the subtraction of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the passing game. That's quite a bit of production missing that has yet to be accounted for. But again, I am still not buying into the Butler addition as a solution.
I know it sounds like I'm slamming Brice Butler pretty hard, but there was a time when I wanted to see him on the field more. Like many of you, the past few seasons I wanted to see him receive a promotion over Terrance Williams, but unfortunately that never happened. But, that was then and this is now.
Personally, I would much rather see Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, or Michael Gallup be worked more into the offensive game plan. I just feel that we have already seen what Brice Butler has to offer and it just wasn't good enough for him to stick around before. It's time to move forward, not back.
There is a reason Butler was a free agent. I mean, he wasn't even good enough to stick with Arizona Cardinals, who probably have more problems at WR than the Cowboys. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up being wrong and he'll finally play up to his true potential and talent. Wouldn't that be great?
Now, this is just one person's opinion, but I just don't see Brice Butler improving the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys. I think the only way that happens is if Dak Prescott reaches the next phase in his development. Until then, I don't see things improving much. But, that's an article for another time.
How do you feel about the Dallas Cowboys reuniting with Brice Butler?
Despite Seattle’s Record, Sunday Is No Cakewalk For Cowboys
As Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a game-ending pick six on national television Monday night, all of Cowboys Nation was suddenly giddy.
Somehow, the team which looked completely lost and inept offensively to open the season was now staring down a chance at a 3-1 start if they could take care of back-to-back winless teams.
The first of those winless foes being the Seattle Seahawks.
Though the last 5 years or so have conditioned us to believe that Seattle is a defensive minded, physical football team, more recent history suggests they’ve fallen off quite a bit. No longer are prime Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor patrolling their secondary, or are waves of top tier defensive linemen cycling through during the game.
Now, the Seahawks are defined by a shaky offensive line, a lack of playmakers on the perimeter, and Russell Wilson hero-ball.
It’s an odd, and typically ineffective formula for winning games, but it’s the one the 0-2 Seahawks are currently stuck with.
Despite all of this, however, Sunday’s game will be an important test for the Cowboys. Though they were favored by 3 points last week, this game is the first time in 2018 that Dallas is truly “expected” to win. Ironically, they come in as Vegas underdogs, but it’s difficult to find informed football analysts who are on Seattle this Sunday.
This, of course, has more to do with how poor Seattle has played to open their season, but they’ve still been incredibly competitive in both losses, losing both games by just one possession.
Going to Seattle and getting a win is a task teams have dreaded for years, even before Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom brought the Seahawks back to relevancy.
Now when you add in factors such as this being Seattle’s home opener, and that they will be desperately fighting to avoid a potential season-killing 0-3 start, this is shaping up to be a very tough test for the Cowboys.
The young Cowboys need to handle their business the next two weeks and take advantage of 0-2 conference foes. These games will be huge down the stretch for potential playoff tie breakers and give them a chance to “fatten up” before entering the more challenging parts of their schedule.
Like two match ups with the Philadelphia Eagles, and running the rest of the NFC South gauntlet during the later months of the year.
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