In three weeks we will have regular season NFL football happening! Isn’t that ridiculously exciting?!
There are three weeks until the Steelers and Patriots game gets going, but an extra 72 hours until the one that really matters. That’s 24 days for all of the math whizzes out there, which means that we are going to continue our Countdown To Kickoff series with the Greatest 24 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 24 For The Dallas Cowboys:
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
Marion Barber III
The Dallas Cowboys thought that they addressed the future of the running back position when they found themselves with Julius Jones in the 2004 NFL Draft. It never hurts to have insurance so the Cowboys took a Golden Gopher out of Minnesota in the 4th round of the 2005 draft.
Barber had an interesting rookie year, but he really drew the eye of the NFL in 2006 when even though he only had 654 yards – he had 14 touchdowns. Marion became widely regarded as a goal line type of back that forced his way through tacklers in a barbaric fashion.
Marion The Barbarian
2007 was even kinder to MBIII as even though he didn’t start a single game, he recorded 975 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. The Cowboys enjoyed a lot of success that season, going 13-3, and a big reason why was they wore their opponents down throughout games.
Marion Barber was the reason that the Cowboys wore opponents down as while they were panting with hands on their knees late in the fourth quarter – Marion Barber got stronger. He gained energy as the game went on which made him one of the more incredible running backs at the time.
Marshawn Lynch gets a lot of hype for his style of running, but Marion Barber was just an earlier version of Beast Mode… even wearing the same jersey number. Unfortunately the Barbarian falls short of our Greatest 24 honor, but he is the proud owner of the Greatest 2-Yard Gain in NFL History.
Marion Barber's two yard run against the Patriots
There was a TCU Horned Frog hanging around on the Dallas draft board when the 12th round of the 1991 NFL Draft hit. The cornerback went by the name of Larry Brown and he fought hard to show what he was made of. He impressed everyone so much that he became the first Cowboy rookie to start at corner since Ron Francis in 1987.
From early on Brown showed that he had the goods to play in the NFL as he started 28 games in his first two seasons. That second set of 16 games led to the Cowboys winning Super Bowl XXVII, a game in which Larry had an interception in the second quarter.
Super Bowl XXX MVP
When the 1995 season started the Cowboys were a hot commodity. They had won two out of the last three Super Bowls and were in contention to sign a prize free agent – cornerback Deion Sanders. When Kevin Smith tore his achilles in the first game of the season Sanders became a priority for the team. With Deion’s signing the corner tandem of Brown and Sanders was born.
Deion Sanders is arguably the greatest defensive back to ever live. With talent like that on one side of the field opposing quarterbacks were forced to throw to Brown’s side… and he made them pay. 1995 was Brown’s finest season in the NFL as he reeled in 6 interceptions, returning 2 of them for touchdowns.
When Dallas reached its third Super Bowl in four years the stage was set, win and you’re a bonafide dynasty. Among a team of superstars at all positions, even his own, Larry Brown shined.
He picked off Steeler QB Neil O’Donnell twice in the second half, helping to set up touchdowns that put the game away for the Cowboys.
In fact after each of his interceptions, both times it took the Cowboys offense only two plays to get Emmitt Smith in the endzone.
After the victory was well in hand Larry Brown was named Super Bowl XXX MVP, the first and only cornerback to ever receive the award.
Larry Brown was a great Dallas Cowboy and holds a special place in both franchise and NFL History. Unfortunately there’s just one more corner who outdid him for the Greatest 24 in Dallas Cowboys History nod.
NFL scouts widely regarded Everson Walls as slow when he ran a 4.72 40-yard dash after his career at Grambling State. This caused one of the greatest cornerbacks in Dallas Cowboys Franchise History to go undrafted. Everson was born in Dallas, so fate rolled his way as his hometown Cowboys signed him and gave him a shot in 1981.
Teams may have avoided him on Draft Day, but Everson made himself known immediately as he led the NFL in interceptions… as a rookie! Walls hauled in 11 opposing passes as the Cowboys marched to the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. The game in question resulted in one of the most iconic moments in NFL History, known forevermore as “The Catch”, when Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark over Everson Walls for the go-ahead score.
Walls Of Interceptions
Sometimes after a star rookie season, players taper off. The NFL catches up to them and opposing teams target them more. After leading the NFL in interceptions in his first year… Everson Walls led the NFL in interceptions in his second year! It only took 7 games this time, but it was a strike-shortened season so there was less opportunity overall.
Everson Walls went to back-to-back-to-back Pro Bowls in his first three years as a cornerback in the NFL. It is widely known that corner is the most difficult position to transition to from college to the NFL so for Walls to do this so flawlessly was extraordinary. His First-Team All-Pro selection in 1983 was the cherry on top of a stout first three seasons.
Walls would lead the league in interceptions again in 1985, which made him the first player in NFL History to do so three times, Ed Reed has since done it as well. Within the franchise of the Dallas Cowboys Everson led the team in interceptions 5 times, which is tied for the most with Terrence Newman.
Everson The Teammate
In 2004 former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs’ Type 2 Diabetes had left him in drastic need of a new kidney. His son Shawn Springs, then starting at cornerback for the Washington Redskins, offered to give up his NFL career and volunteered his. Ron refused.
Right around 2006 Everson Walls, Ron Springs’ old teammate and best friend, had had enough. He volunteered his kidney to Ron and refused to take no for an answer. It was the first time that a former U.S. professional athlete had donated an organ to an ex-teammate.
The surgery went off smoothly and Ron was able to continue enjoying the beauties of life until he passed away on May 12th, 2011.
#24: Everson Walls
The number 24 became a nightmare for quarterbacks who had to face it under the watch of Everson Walls. Throughout the 1980s Walls was arguably the most feared cornerback in the entire NFL.
Everson’s 44 career interceptions are second all-time in Dallas Cowboys Franchise History. He entered the NFL with one of the biggest bangs that anyone ever has and he exemplified the teammate aspect of life in everything that he ever did. Everson Walls personified excellence both on and off the field, and he is without a doubt the Greatest 24 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 23 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.
Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.
Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.
The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.
Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas
Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.
Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.
The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.
Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.
Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial
Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.
Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.
Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.
Pues en Dallas, hoy dos jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.
Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.
Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.
Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.
Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.
The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.
Lock Down the Big Guns
Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.
Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.
As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.
Adding New Talent
One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.
Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.
If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.
Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.
Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.
The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.
As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.
Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.
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