Welcome to another Hump Day here at Inside The Star!
The Cowboys will square off for the Governor’s Cup tomorrow against the Houston Texans in the preseason finale, but as it stands we are currently 11 days away from putting the shoulder pads on and going out there for real!
To keep in rhythm with the beat of the Countdown To Kickoff series that we’ve been playing for the last few months, we are going to commemorate that with the Greatest 11 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Dancing is encouraged.
The Following Players Have All Worn 11 For The Dallas Cowboys:
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys Roster
+Active player on the Dallas Cowboys Staff
There is something about multi-tools that speaks to the general public. The ability to manage multiple things with an object is a point of convenience that we all like in our lives. The “Swiss army knife” of life is what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?
Dual-threats are such a popular thing in the NFL nowadays. Running backs are coveted because they can run hard AND catch passes out of the backfield. If you’ve kept up with the Houston Texans this preseason they’re using a defensive back at the running back position. Two positions! That’s crazy!
One of the more famous dual-position players for the Dallas Cowboys has been Deion Sanders. Primetime played corner and dabbled a little bit at receiver. As great as he was, there is another dual-position player in Dallas Cowboys History that trumps him.
After a failed third down conversion most quarterbacks trot back to the bench, dejected with their inability to move the chains. The Greatest 11 in Dallas Cowboys History stayed out on the field, booming punts after his quarterback duties were finished for that series.
Wilford Daniel White wasn’t too impressive of a quarterback prospect in high school, but man could he play some baseball. Frank Kush, head football coach at Arizona State University, convinced the school’s baseball coach, Bobby Winkles, to offer White a baseball scholarship and allow him to play punter on the football team. Punter, seriously?
The foot of Danny White was spectacular, but his arm wasn’t a fluke. White managed to earn the starting gig for the Sun Devils in the middle of his sophomore season. He was one of the finer quarterbacks AND punters in ASU history.
The Dallas Cowboys
Danny White was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1974 draft, but Tom Landry and Co. were primarily interested in his services as a punter. Wanting to play quarterback, White signed with the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League.
In 1976 the WFL folded and Danny White still wanted to play some pigskin… whether he had to throw it or punt it. He joined the Dallas Cowboys to back up star quarterback Roger Staubach and boom punts downfield when need be.
QB1: Danny White
When the Greatest 12/Cowboy in Dallas Cowboys History, Roger Staubach, retired after the 1979 season fans were wondering how the franchise could possible move on. Tom Landry knew how.
White took over for Captain America as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys when the 1980 season kicked off, and he made the overall transition pretty seamless. Danny Boy threw for over 3,000 yards in his first season and also averaged over 40 yards per punt! How cool is that?
Danny White quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to high levels of success in each of his first three seasons under center. He took America’s Team to three straight NFC Championship Games from 1980-1982, but unfortunately lost all three times.
The thing that is particularly incredible about Danny White is that he did all of this with an enormous amount of pressure on him. Besides managing double duties with quarterbacking and punting through 1984, Danny White was following a legend at the position. While the San Francisco 49ers are rightfully regarded as the dynasty of the 1980s, Danny White kept the Cowboys highly competitive in the National Football League for the early part of the decade, which is highly impressive.
#11: Danny White
Danny earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 1982, but his finest statistical season came in 1983 when he posted 3,980 yards and 29 touchdowns. Keep in mind you kids who are into fantasy football, at this point in NFL History 4,000 yards was very difficult to achieve.
Danny White’s career statistics are pretty impressive within Dallas Cowboys History:
- 166 Games Played (1st among quarterbacks)
- 62 wins (4th among quarterbacks behind Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, and Tony Romo)
- 1,761 completions (3rd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 21,959 yards (4th in Dallas Cowboys History behind Tony Romo, Troy Aikman, and Roger Staubach)
- 155 passing touchdowns (3rd in Dallas Cowboys History behind Tony Romo and Troy Aikman)
- 610 punts (1st in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 24,509 career punt yards (2nd in Dallas Cowboys History behind Mike Saxon)
The career of Danny White is one of the more undervalued ones in Dallas Cowboys History. What he accomplished in his time as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys is nothing short of spectacular.
Danny White is undoubtedly the Greatest 11 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 10 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
PFF Ranks Cowboys Run Defense 13th In The NFL
The Cowboys duo of young linebackers took the NFL by storm in 2018.
Rookie Leighton Vander Esch and former second round pick Jaylon Smith played well above expectations, as for the first time in years Dallas did not face a significant drop off in defensive production when Sean Lee was out and injured.
These young linebackers are the cornerstone of a run defense which should be among the league's best going forward, and Pro Football Focus agrees. Well, somewhat agrees.
PFF ranked all 32 run defenses heading into the 2019 season, slotting the Cowboys 13th overall. Better than half the league, but not quite top 10.
PFF's reasoning behind this ranking certainly makes sense, as they credit the young linebacker duo without mentioning much of what will be in front of them helping to stop opposing running games.
"The Cowboys’ run defense begins and ends with the league’s best young linebacker duo. Leighton Vander Esch ranked third in run-stop percentage as a rookie while Jaylon Smith checked in at 29th."
The playoff loss in Los Angeles has left a bad taste about the Cowboys' interior defensive line in a lot of mouths, but I do think they've improved the unit this offseason. Signing Christian Covington and drafting Trysten Hill was a nice start to do so, but having Maliek Collins healthy and Antwaun Woods back for a full season will also go a long way.
Interestingly enough, two of the Cowboys divisional foes came in ranked above them on this list. Washington was slotted as the 12th best run defense, while Philadelphia was placed at number 8. Both teams' units deserve respect, of course, but this further highlights how difficult it could be to run the ball in the NFC East this season.
While I hate simply throwing this term around, analytics suggest that passing is what wins games in the NFL. Passing and stopping the pass, I should say.
With strong run defenses in their division, the Cowboys will need to maximize their passing game efficiency if they want to repeat as NFC East champions.
3 Reasons Amari Cooper is Primed for an All-Pro Season
Amari Cooper changed life for the entire Dallas Cowboys offense in 2018. Finally, Quarterback Dak Prescott has the number one option at wide receiver he's desperately needed since his rookie campaign. Now, after half a season and multiple playoff games under his belt in Dallas, Cooper is set to have a monster year. Here are three specific reasons why.
Head Coach Jason Garrett has established a certain way of doing things in Dallas since taking over in 2010. His constant search for the RKG or "Right Kinda Guy" as he puts it has the culture in the locker room at a very positive and productive place. As criticized as he is, justifiably or not, he has his team all on the same page. This is something Cooper has been trying to find since he entered the league in 2015. An organization with the right mindset in order for him to perform and maximize his skill set. After being traded to Dallas, Cooper opened up in November about being unhappy during his days in Oakland.
"I wasn't really happy in Oakland or anything like that. But when I sat and thought about it [Monday} night, I thought about the fact that they traded me away. I don't know how to feel about it," Cooper told Yahoo Sports.
This may seem small to others considering these players make millions of dollars right? Well, it doesn't change the fact that they're human. When you feel unappreciated you don't play to the best of your abilities. Shortly after the trade, Cooper talked about how he's been different since putting a star on his helmet. "I feel like it did change me, as far as having that chip on my shoulder. Not that I wasn't passionate before, but playing with more passion, trying to intentionally have fun out there. It definitely has changed me, in terms of me going out there and just having fun with it," Cooper said. A change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered for Cooper and the Cowboys.
2. The other weapons around him
The Cowboys aren't just Amari Cooper or bust at the wide receiver position. Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb provide more challenges for defenses on a weekly basis. Gallup has firmly locked down the number two spot on the depth chart. It took a while for him to establish chemistry with Dak Prescott, as they would misfire on several big plays during the first half of the season. Nonetheless, by seasons end things started to pick up, and he finished with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the playoffs, he scored a touchdown in the Cowboys Wild Card win over Seattle. The next week against the Rams he performed well even in defeat, with 6 receptions for 119 yards. He's got speed, size, and versatility. Now with a full season and two games of playoff experience under his belt, I look for even more production from Gallup, as a possible breakout star.
Randall Cobb is a much-needed upgrade in the slot for the Cowboys. Unlike former receiver Cole Beasley, Cobb can line up inside or outside. Giving new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore a bigger bag of tricks at his disposal. Now, he can lineup Cooper inside or outside and play with a plethora of different looks, keeping defenses off balance because of the uncertainty of how the Cowboys will attack through the air.
Then, of course, there's Ezekiel Elliott. The two-time rushing champion is the tone-setter on offense and dictates how defenses will attack. With Cooper being such a threat in the air you basically have to pick your poison. 8-9 man fronts against the run can make you vulnerable to play action down the field or quick slants with Cooper's exceptional route running. The more productive Elliott is the more honest it keeps opposing defenses, opening up more opportunities in the passing game. Averaging 101.2 yards per game for his career, second all-time to Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Elliott can make create even more opportunities for Cooper in 2019 with a full season of playing time together.
Amari Cooper is currently looking to sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys. Preferably, both sides would like to get this deal done before the season starts considering he's in the last year of his rookie contract that is set to pay him 13.9 million in 2019. However, it isn't just a new deal that motivates Cooper heading into the new season.
"It's kind of a weird situation, just being that I've never been in this situation before, talking about a contract. But also, I'm under a fifth-year option, so I'm not too familiar with it. I really don't ask my agent many questions. I'm not really worried about it that much. I'm more focused on actually playing and really earning the respect and then the contract," Cooper said.
Being motivated by earning respect is a very mature approach from Cooper. Now, add that to the fact that I'm sure he wants to firmly put his name alongside Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, and Michael Thomas as the best receivers in the game, you have a fully motivated number one option heading into the new season.
Amari Cooper has already made three pro bowls, but now there's another level for him to reach. In just nine games last year with the Cowboys he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. Also, he caught another 13 on 18 targets in the playoffs for 171 yards and a score. He's in the right culture, he has a number of other weapons around him and he has multiple reasons to be motivated heading in the new season. With a full offseason of building chemistry with Dak Prescott, I see Cooper taking that leap to the All-Pro level in 2019.
Is La’el Collins Playing For A Contract On A Different Team?
How good is La'el Collins?
This is a question that Cowboys fans have disagreed on since his rookie season. Collins, who originally joined the team as their left guard replacing an injured Ronald Leary in 2015, moved out to right tackle in 2017, starting all 32 games there the last 2 seasons.
Collins' play has been somewhat up-and-down, as should be expected when a lineman not only switches from guard to tackle, but from the left side to the right side as well. Still, he's been a solid right tackle and a stable presence for a Cowboys offensive line which has struggled with major injuries at other positions over the last couple of years.
While Collins has not been the "elite" level player fans had hoped for when signed after the 2015 draft, he's been a solid player nonetheless. Dak Prescott has faced more pressure from the right side of the line than the left, but a good portion of that pressure has to do with him struggling to sense pressure from that right side.
The Dallas Cowboys seem rather undecided about La'el Collins' future with the team themselves, though. Dallas went out and draft guard Connor McGovern in the third round of the 2019 draft, starting the whirlwind of rumors that McGovern will be the starting left guard in 2020. This would kick second year player Connor Williams out to right tackle, allowing Dallas to let Collins walk without too much worry.
While this is well and good on paper, on the field the transition will likely not be as smooth. We've already seen how tough it is to move from left guard to right tackle in just one offseason, even if you were a college tackle once upon a time. Connor Williams could face these same struggles, despite possibly even anticipating the change a year out.
Regardless, La'el Collins is now in a contract year and is playing for that new deal come 2020. Dallas may not be looking to extend him, mostly due to the plethora of new deals they'll be handing out to other players, but he will be a hot commodity come free agency if and when he hits the open market.
Collins could very well be playing for a new contract elsewhere this season, as his days in Dallas look to be numbered.
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