Like any great running back pushing for more we are inching our way to the goal line of the 2015 NFL season. A mere 33 sets of the sun are what separate us from our weekly rituals of wearing our favorite jersey, grilling some barbecue, and gluing ourselves to the best seat in the house.
In just 48 hours we will finally get to see the Dallas Cowboys in their uniforms and playing a game of football. How awesome is that?
Unfortunately those games count about as much as rock, paper, scissors… but hey, it’s football. The real deal goes down in 33 days and to help maintain our sanity until then we are going to continue our Countdown To Kickoff with the Greatest 33 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 33 For The Dallas Cowboys:
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
In 1975 the Dallas Cowboys had the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. With a man named Walter Payton on the board they decided to pull a Pete Carroll and pass on running the ball. Who’d they pick? Just a guy named Randy White. Worked out pretty well, I’d say.
In 1977 the Dallas Cowboys had the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. Yes, again. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took USC’s Ricky Bell the war room just about jumped through the roof.
The University of Pittsburgh’s all-time leading rusher was there. The very Pitt Panther that helped them win the 1976 National Championship. This was such an illustrious collegiate player that he was deemed the best in the nation, winning the 1976 Heisman Trophy. Who was he?
The 1977 Dallas Cowboys were thought to be a running back away from being Super Bowl contenders. They had been unable to run the ball effectively in Super Bowl X, a big factor in why they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Names like Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Tony Hill, and Billy Jo Dupree graced the offensive side of the depth chart. Doomsday took care of the defense.
The Dallas Cowboys had a fine running back combo of Robert Newhouse and Preston Pearson, but they were missing that one ingredient. They needed a playmaker. They needed somebody who could be the difference and pose as a viable threat in the run game. With Roger Staubach airing the ball out, teams already feared that aspect. The Cowboys needed teams to fear their entire offense.
Run To Daylight
Upon arrival, Dorsett and the man in charge, Head Coach Tom Landry, had differing opinions on how Tony should run the ball. You see, Tom Landry was one of the most methodical men to ever live. He viewed football almost as a play with each motion of the game happening almost in a scripted and predetermined fashion.
One day in practice while preparing for the Cardinals Dorsett took a sweep right. The offensive and defensive players clashed leaving little room to run. The shifty Tony Dorsett cut his run back all the way to the left and picked up a huge gain.
“It will NEVER, in 100 years, happen like that!” screamed Landry. Dorsett was supposed to hit the hole Landry had drawn up, not run to what he saw.
That week against the Cardinals… it happened like that. Dorsett broke his cut back and danced his way down the Texas Stadium turf – 77 yards for a touchdown.
After that Tom Landry changed the way that he put together game plans. He instructed his linemen, the famed “Zero Club”, to block and hold their man… Tony would take care of the rest.
World Champs – And Everything Else
The Cowboys rode their rookie running back, and third down specialist Preston Pearson, to a 12-2 record. They cruised through the playoffs – vanquishing the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys were World Champions.
Just one year prior to winning Super Bowl XII in the Superdome down in New Orleans, well technically 379 days earlier to be precise, Tony Dorsett had won the National Championship as a Pitt Panther in that same building.
In back-to-back football seasons Tony Dorsett accomplished what no one else in the history of football ever had. He had won the Heisman Trophy, the collegiate National Championship, and the Super Bowl.
In chronological order, this is Tony Dorsett’s senior year at Pitt through winning Super Bowl XII with the Dallas Cowboys:
- 1976 Rushing Yards – 2,150
- 1976 Rushing Touchdowns – 22
- 1976 Receiving Yards – 67
- 1976 Receiving Touchdowns – 8
- 1976 Heisman Trophy Winner
- 1976 National Champion
- 1977 Second Overall Pick
- 1977 Rushing Yards – 1,007
- 1977 Rushing Touchdowns – 12
- 1977 Receiving Yards – 273
- 1977 Receiving Touchdowns – 1
- 1977 NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year
- 1977 Super Bowl Champion
It’s pretty hard to follow up a run, no pun intended, like Tony Dorsett had from 1976 to the wee beginnings of 1978, but he managed to put together quite the career. He began his career with 5 straight 1,000-yard seasons, including an astonishing 1,646 in 1981. Tony Dorsett was not just immediately an impact player, but he was immediately a significant contributor and a star. It’s rare that a running back has entered the NFL and immediately shown that level of dominance.
His streak was broken in 1982, but to be fair this was a strike-shortened season where Tony only played 9 games, still racking up 745 yards; however, in the final regular season game Tony etched his name in the record books in one of the most unique ways in NFL History.
In the season finale, and first primetime game ever played in Minnesota’s Metrodome, Tony Dorsett was his usual star-studded self. With the Cowboys backed up as far as possible, literally the ball sat on the goal line, Tony took off.
Tony broke through the line of scrimmage and tight-roped his way down the sidelines – 99 yards for a touchdown. It is the longest play from scrimmage in NFL History and can never be beaten, only matched.
This play cemented Dorsett’s legacy as one of the great running backs of his era, especially considering that fullback Ron Springs was not on the field for the play. That’s right, Tony Dorsett accomplished the longest possible play on a football field with only 10 men on the field, the absentee being his primary blocker.
#33: Tony Dorsett
Tony Dorsett racked up 12,036 yards and 99 touchdowns in his time with the Cowboys (he played one final year with Denver before retiring). He retired as the Dallas Cowboys all-time leading rusher and as one of the franchise’s most decorated players.
He was a first-ballot member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1994, which felt only fitting to the career that he had. Everything else happened on the first try, why not the Hall of Fame? Tony Dorsett accomplished arguably everything that one aspires to in the game of football.
Tony Dorsett's career accomplishments include:
- Heisman Trophy Winner
- National Champion
- First Round Draft Pick (2nd overall)
- NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Super Bowl Champion
- Unbreakable NFL Record
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Member
- Pro Football Hall of Fame Member (Class of 1994)
Tony Dorsett did it all. He is one of the most prolific players in NFL History and one of the finer men to ever put on the Dallas Cowboys uniform. His mantle is probably pretty cluttered, but allow me to give Tony Dorsett one final award… The Greatest 33 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 32 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Tyron Smith Named Most “Underpaid Veteran” On Dallas Cowboys
Counting the pockets of Cowboys star players has become a favorite activity of the national media this offseason, as everyone tries to figure out how Dallas will structure the deals for their young players over the course of the next year.
While trying to figure out what the new deals will look like, it's worth reflecting on how well the team did on some of their past negotiations. The Ringer released an article this week naming the most underpaid veteran on each NFL roster, with Tyron Smith earning that honor for the Cowboys.
Smith, who signed his extension with the team back in 2014, is under the deal until the 2024 season. That 8 year extension was lucrative at the time for sure, but as the salary cap rises and other offensive tackles have gotten paid, it looks more like a bargain deal for Dallas by the second.
"A long contract is a bad deal for an elite player in a league in which revenue grows handily. The salary cap was $133 million in 2014, but it’s $188.2 million for 2019. So while the Cowboys have 41.5 percent more money to spend, Smith hasn’t had a raise in five seasons. The Cowboys essentially locked up one of the best tackles of his generation for his entire career."
When put like this, you can see just what a steal of a contract the Cowboys signed Tyron Smith for. Smith is inked for the entirety of the prime of his career, and has very little leverage for a holdout given how many years still remain on this deal.
On the field, Tyron Smith remains one of the best left tackles in all of football, even if back issues have forced him to miss some time over the last two seasons. Smith should remain a top contributor for the Cowboys for at least a few more years, all of which will come at a bargain for a Cowboys team looking to execute some salary cap gymnastics next offseason.
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.
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