Happy Dallas Cowboys Kickoff Day!
That’s right. Tonight there will be a football game played and the Dallas Cowboys will be a part of it. I just about destroyed my office because I was so excited! This must be how puppies feel when they see you after a long day.
The dog days of the offseason are over, as we will have some football to chew on after tonight. Today also puts us exactly ONE MONTH away from games that actually count! 31 days, baby. 31 days.
The current 31 of the Dallas Cowboys, Byron Jones, could probably leap that whole distance since he’s such an athletic phenomenon, but I’m going to help him out and do it for him. Throw on your Jumpman 31s with me as we stroll down memory lane in our Countdown To Kickoff Series with the Greatest 31 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 31 For The Dallas Cowboys:
2002 was a fun time in the NFL. The NFL was creeping its way into the 21st century, the New England Patriots had just won the first Super Bowl of their would-be dynasty, and a band of misfits joined together to form the newest NFL franchise… the Houston Texans.
The draft saw five Miami Hurricanes taken in the first round – five! Obviously other schools were well represented, but on a bigger level so were conferences. The Big 12 had four first-round draftees, none of which would accomplish as much as the future Greatest 31 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The hard-hitting safety out of the University of Oklahoma was the first safety off of the board in 2002. He was paired with the newest member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Darren Woodson, in the defensive backfield.
With Williams at the free safety spot and Woodson at the strong, the Double W (say that out loud, it’s difficult) tandem made for quite the pair.
Thanks to the scheme that the Cowboys employed at the time they actually would interchange positions throughout the year, confusing their opponents.
Williams intercepted 5 passes, returning 2 of them for touchdowns, and forced 3 fumbles on his way to being the runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year (Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers won the award).
2003 saw Williams really channel his Superman persona. You see, “Superman” was a nickname given to Roy during his time in Norman thanks to his ability to patrol the line of scrimmage and fly to quarterbacks or short pass situations. He brought that energy to the Cowboys as they put together the league’s number one ranked defensive unit.
Williams found himself as a First-Team All-Pro and with a roster spot on the Pro Bowl squad. He had a great season individually, although not as great of a statistical year as his rookie season… adding to the reasoning that Roy should have won DROY the year before.
Roy Williams earned yet another nickname in 2004 when during a press conference Head Coach Bill Parcells said, in reference to his weight, that Williams was “a biscuit short of a linebacker.”
Biscuit earned some more notoriety after the 2004 season when the NFL instituted the “Roy Williams Rule.”
With an injured Darren Woodson, Williams had to play more coverage situations as opposed to down near the line of scrimmage.
He had to chase down more receivers and when tackling them accidentally brought a few down by the back of their shoulder pads.
This horse-collar tackling led to three serious injuries under the execution of Williams. One of the injuries sustained was a broken leg by a future teammate of Roy - Terrell Owens.
The NFL had seen enough of it and outlawed what many deemed the signature of Roy Williams.
The Superman Returns movie that was released in 2006 was absolute garbage, but it was freaking incredible in 2005. With the free agent signing of cornerback Anthony Henry the coverage was taken care of and Roy Williams was back on duty at the line of scrimmage. Hello, quarterbacks.
Williams recorded 2.5 sacks and 3 interceptions in that 2005 season, earning his third straight Pro Bowl appearance. He would stretch his Pro Bowl streak to five full seasons before it ultimately ended.
#31: Roy Williams
The hard hits and tough tackles executed by Roy Williams are still being felt by their recipients today. While tearing offenses, and people, apart Roy Williams put together an illustrious Dallas Cowboy career under the banner of 31 (he switched to 38 for his final season in Dallas in 2008).
410 tackles, 19 interceptions, and 3 defensive touchdowns came from Roy Williams. He made his presence well known whether it was at the line of scrimmage, in the defensive secondary, or on top of the ball carrier after he had walloped him. Roy Williams continues that level of intensity as he makes his presence known on our Countdown To Kickoff as Roy Williams is the Greatest 31 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 30 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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