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!
Why I’m Not Buying The Jason Witten Rejuvenation Story
Last week, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett made headlines with some quotes about the return of Jason Witten. Neither Garrett nor Witten tend to make headlines with their words often, but the two combined to do so with a quote this week.
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.” - Jason Garrett on Witten.
Multiple Cowboys' media outlets ran with these quotes, looking to show that the Cowboys have found a version of Jason Witten that they have not seen in quite some time. They are, publicly, stating that they believe a year away from the game did Witten some good, and that he will be a much healthier and fresher player in 2019 than he was back when he last played in 2017.
As a fan of the team, I sure hope this is the case. But as a realistic human being, I can't get behind this at all.
Jason Witten hasn't been very good for quite some time now. I know he's a Cowboy legend, and will forever be a fan favorite, but the facts are the facts. As a run blocker Witten has regressed greatly in his later years. More often it seemed he was re-adjusting his jersey after a missed block than he was making blocks to spring Ezekiel Elliott on the edge.
As a receiver, Witten's much slower than he used to be. And while he was never a blazer who relied on his speed to win, his lack of speed certainly holds him back in today's game. And if the Cowboys want to be multiple and versatile on offense, I'm not sure how a greatly-aged tight end helps them to do so.
He's still the smart, instinctive route runner he's always been, but at 37 years old what can we realistically expect from him?
I'll be honest, I'm very skeptical that Jason Witten is going to give the Cowboys anything in 2019. Maybe earlier in the season he will look better than expected, but can he withstand a full NFL season? It's impossible to say for sure now, but I'm absolutely not buying that he's rejuvenated or extra-fresh after a year off from football.
Connor Williams Hopes Added Weight, Experience Aids Him In 2019
Offensive lineman Connor Williams had himself an interesting start to his young career. The second round pick was expected to be a plug-and-play guard for the Cowboys, earning the starting left guard spot from just about the first day of training camp.
The results from Williams' play were mixed, however. At moments Connor Williams looked like his athletic, technically sound self, working well on the Cowboys outside zone runs. Other times, though, he was simply overpowered by bigger and stronger defensive tackles.
Williams lost his left guard spot due to injury late in the season, and when Xavier Su'a-Filo came in and played relatively well, fans soured a bit on the then-rookie lineman. Still there was no question that Williams was the better player between the two, and he rightfully started in both the Cowboys playoff games last season.
Now entering year two, and with third round pick Connor McGovern potentially competing for a guard spot and rumors of a move to right tackle swirling around him, Williams believes he's done enough to improve before his Sophomore year.
Connor Williams spoke to DallasCowboys.com, and gave some decent quotes on what his offseason preparation has looked like thus far. Williams emphasized that his main goal was to add strength and size, something he looks to have clearly done based on recent photographs.
“I think I’ve put myself in a good position. Now it’s just about refining the technique and feeling comfortable.” - Connor Williams
According to Williams he played at a "light 300" pounds in 2018, but is now tipping the scales at 315 pounds. That's quite the difference, especially considering that Williams carries the weight pretty well in his frame.
All Pro veteran guard Zack Martin has taken Williams under his wing, as the young lineman credits Martin for being his lifting partner this offseason.
Right tackle might be in Connor Williams' 2020 future, but as of now, he has to ready himself to compete at left guard against the heavier defensive tackles he once struggled with. It's very encouraging to see the progress he has made so far.
Travis Frederick’s Return Highlights Start Of Cowboys’ OTAs
The Cowboys opening of voluntary OTAs came with some serious excitement from football-starved fans. But as we all know, these workouts are just about meaningless in terms of storylines for the upcoming season.
I say "just about meaningless" because there are some storylines which matter, though. Travis Frederick's return, of course, is one of those storylines.
After missing all of 2018 due to Guillain-Barre syndrome, Frederick appears to have gained his strength and ability back heading into 2019. Now he is back where he belongs, as the starting center for the Dallas Cowboys.
@tfrederick72 🔙 at it! 💪🏼 #OTAs https://t.co/wht2Lh5yr5
Travis Frederick's importance to the Cowboys cannot be understated. In addition to being one of the best linemen in all of football, the All-Pro veteran center is responsible for much of the pre-snap communication across the offensive line. His absence was clearly felt in 2018, even as Joe Looney played well-above the preseason expectation level.
Frederick returns to anchor an offensive line which is surrounded with some serious pre-season hype. With Zack Martin back to full health, Connor Williams having a year under his belt, and newly-drafted Connor McGovern comes in with high hopes of starting on the interior.
Regardless of how the rest of the Cowboys' offensive line works itself out, it was great to see Travis Frederick back in action, even if it was during a non-contact voluntary practice.
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