I like to think that you, my fellow staff members at Inside The Star, and the players featured on our Countdown To Kickoff are all teammates. That being said, before we begin I’d like to ask nicely that nobody punch me in the jaw.
It’s hump day which means it’s time to look forward to the rest of the week, but I’m looking way past that… 32 days to be specific. In that time you’ll be in your favorite jersey, praising your fantasy football team, and basking in all of the National Football League glory.
To commemorate our pending joy we’re going to continue with our Countdown To Kickoff series. As always remember that flash photograph is permitted and you will get your toy back at the end of class.
Onward to the Greatest 32 in Dallas Cowboys History!
The Following Players Have All Worn 32 For The Dallas Cowboys:
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
1966 brought forth the first Super Bowl season for the NFL/AFL. While the big game that we all know and love did take place, the merger of the two leagues didn’t fully take place until 1970.
This meant that the two leagues still had their usual separate drafts. There was a running back hailing from Oklahoma State that peaked the interests of teams from both leagues. The Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL deemed him worthy of their 17th round draft pick, while the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys prioritized him higher… taking him in the 5th round of 1966. Who was this Cowboy?
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy turned Dallas Cowboy had been a Cowboy all his life… a real life Cowboy. Walt Garrison was frequently seen on the ranch and enjoyed life with a ten-gallon hat and a pair of boots. He epitomized the name of the Dallas Cowboys and relished in the Cowboy way. His Cowboy lifestyle was so important to him that his signing bonus in 1966 included a horse trailer!
While Walt Garrison was certainly a serviceable running back and showed a lot of promise, the Dallas Cowboys already had a Pro Bowl ball carrier that was in the middle of his career in Don Perkins.
Garrison patiently waited his turn, serving mostly on special teams during his first years. Walt knew he had the talent and drive to be the star running back for the Dallas Cowboys. He served his time in back up duty, until Don Perkins retired after the 1968 contest, and then it was time to get to work.
Over The Moon
One of the most impressive things ever achieved by the human race happened in 1969 when we landed on the moon. Walt Garrison would accomplish a similarly impressive thing when he gave the Dallas Cowboy running game life after Don Perkins.
Walt waltzed his way to a career high 818 yards in his first season as the full-time starter. He became a household name, but real Cowboy fans began to respect him for much more than just being a yardage machine.
Walt Garrison: Man Of Steel
The NFL is a nasty game. You’re talking about the finest athletes in the world intentionally hitting and bruising one another. This, undoubtedly, leads to injuries. Such things could not sideline Walt Garrison. He had a grit and determination about him to where he was going to fight through anything and continue to play at a high level.
Garrison’s superhuman toughness was on display during the 1970 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. Neither a cracked collarbone nor a very serious ankle injury could stop Walt Garrison.
He overcame these ailments, rushing 17 times for 71 yards and catching 3 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. Walt's heroic effort helped the Cowboys secure victory and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl - their first berth in the big game in franchise history.
Walt The Winner
The Cowboys would ultimately lose their first Super Bowl against the Baltimore Colts. They hit the field in 1971 desperate to win a World Championship, and Walt Garrison was determined to help.
Teamed up with Duane Thomas and Calvin Hill, Walt Garrison helped establish the rushing attack of the Dallas Cowboys as one of the most prominent, and feared, throughout the entire NFL. The three-headed beast of Thomas, Hill, and Garrison combined for 408 carries yielding 1,690 yards and 20 touchdowns in the 1971 campaign.
This trio of running backs helped the Dallas Cowboys reach Super Bowl VI and avenge their loss from a year before. They trounced Don Shula’s Miami Dolphins, by a score of 24-3, and established themselves as the champions of the world.
#32: Walt Garrison
Walt Garrison totaled 3,886 rushing yards and 1,794 receiving yards before it was all said and done. This real life Cowboy served as the model of consistency during his days in Dallas.
When asked about how dependable Walt was, famed quarterback Don Meredith jokingly said, “If it was third down, and you needed four yards, if you’d get the ball to Walt Garrison, he’d get ya five. And if it was third down and ya needed twenty yards, you’d get the ball to Walt Garrison, by God, he’d get you five.”
The Dallas Cowboys were very fortunate to have such a reliable running back throughout Walt’s tenure. He exemplified the name of the Dallas Cowboys down to his core, and he accomplished quite a lot in his time… making Walt Garrison the Greatest 32 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 31 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
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