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!
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?
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