This is the last Friday that we will have to endure without the NFL in our lives for the rest of 2015. Let that sink in.
The footballiest time of the year is on the horizon and it’s a great time to be alive. The Dallas Cowboys kick off their season next Sunday at home against the New York Giants. How many days away is that exactly? Tony! Tell us!
Thanks, Romo. I can’t wait to try a crownie or two, or seventeen, in 9 days.
That’s right, baby. 9 days. SINGLE DIGITS.
Our Countdown To Kickoff series here at Inside The Star has reviewed the Greatest Cowboys to wear each jersey number. We started 90 days ago with #99 so if you have some time on your hands (like 18 hours) go back and read them all! I’ll share my crownies with you.
I hope you practiced your spin move. We’re about to get going with the Greatest 9 in Dallas Cowboys History. Let’s roll.
The Following Players Have All Worn 9 For The Dallas Cowboys:
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
Herm Edwards once said, “You play to win the game!” That’s why we’re all here, right? That’s why we lift all them weights. We spend each and every season believing that this is the year. This is our time.
The Greatest #9 in Dallas Cowboys History has played each and every snap of his career with a sense of greatness that exemplifies that exact hunger and drive. He has played not just as if this is the year, but also as if this snap, as if this throw, as if this is the moment.
He has given us his absolute all.
The next time that you see the Dallas Cowboys on a football field it will be for real. Games will count, statistics will be recorded, and the journey will officially begin towards Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California.
When the game is over and confetti rains down in Santa Clara, Jim Nantz is going to hand over the Vince Lombardi Trophy… to the Greatest 9 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Do you remember what you were doing on October 23rd, 2006? Let me remind you.
“Romo! Romo! Romo!”
The chants were deafening within Texas Stadium as the Dallas Cowboys trotted to the locker room at halftime on Monday night against the New York Giants. This was Monday Night Football. The New York Giants were in OUR house. The house of the Dallas Cowboys. Where we demand excellence.
The lives of each and every Dallas Cowboys fan were made better at halftime when then Head Coach Bill Parcells (now Pro Football Hall of Famer, mind you) decided to pull quarterback Drew Bledsoe in favor of Antonio Ramiro Romo.
Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2003, Tony Romo was relatively unknown. After failing to get drafted, two other Eastern Illinois alumni showed some interest in Romo: Mike Shanahan, then Head Coach of the Denver Broncos, and Sean Payton, then Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks Coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Romo felt that he had the best shot to make the Cowboys roster so he packed his bags and set sail for Dallas.
Tony entered that 2006 Monday Night Game against the Giants the same way that he runs out on the field today, with sheer joy and love for the game. That’s what has made Romo special all of these years, he plays the game the way that we all wish that we could, and with an attitude that we all wish that we had.
Teach Me How To Romo
The early days of Tony Romo were some of the most incredible games to watch for Dallas Cowboys fans. In his first career start at Texas Stadium he showed us the way that he can lead a team as the Cowboys gave the 9-0 Colts - and eventual Super Bowl XLI Champions, by the way - their first loss of the season.
Oh and a week later he threw for 5 touchdowns on Thanksgiving – no big deal.
Thrilling victories have become a staple of the Cowboy QB. Just a week after tossing those 5 touchdowns Romo went up to the Meadowlands and won a thriller against the G-Men. He has become synonymous with epic games.
In 2007, the Cowboys traveled to Buffalo for another Monday Night contest. Despite throwing 5 interceptions, Romo rallied the team and was able to put up 9 points in the final 24 seconds to squeak out a 25-24 victory. With Tony Romo as your starting quarterback, things are always interesting.
2007, St. Louis Rams, you know what play I’m talking about.
Sharing this clip bc Im a fan not because Im trying to get rich from highlight clips. The No Fun League is pulling all these clips off YouTube.
Tony Romo has demonstrated this uncanny ability to make plays when things seem like they’re about to come crashing down. It’s not a skill that can be taught, it’s just being special… and that’s what Romo is.
Consider that Tony Romo went from undrafted rookie to star quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. How freaking incredible is that? It’s literally the American Dream.
There is a magic about Romo, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a combination of a lot of things, really.
There’s grit - and Tony Romo is a warrior. The guy suffered broken ribs AND a punctured lung and still came back to rally his team to victory over the San Francisco 49ers in 2011.
How about that time he actually broke his back against the Washington Redskins in 2013 and, with the season on the line, still threw the game-winning touchdown to DeMarco Murray? His will to win is unmatched.
If you’re going to go to battle, Tony Romo can lead you there.
Over the course of the last few seasons in Dallas he has really embodied the “C” that he wears on his chest. Dez Bryant, one of the most passionate players throughout the entire NFL, lays out for Romo. He's the type of quarterback that players want to fight for. He brings out the best in his teammates and raises the overall caliber of play.
As obvious as it is, there is a magic to Romo’s magic. You simply cannot explain some of the plays he makes or how he makes them. Need some proof?
This exhibit is a vintage JJ Watt from 2014, only last year’s Defensive Player of the Year. While he wasn't at the jugs machine catching passes for no reason at all he completely whiffs here when Tony puts on the classic Romo Spin Move.
Not enough for you?
How about when he put the same move on Bruce Irvin one week later?
This pass came on a pivotal 3rd and 20 which kept the drive alive, allowing the Cowboys to put the exclamation point on their signature win of the 2014 regular season.
So much is made about comparing quarterbacks to one another.
Super Bowl Rings, MVP trophies, and passing yard titles are always the determining factors, but I think we should consider something else.
Tony Romo has developed into one of the most dependable quarterbacks in the National Football League. With him under center, you always have a shot. Always.
Excluding 2010 (Romo only started the first 6 games before suffering a season-ending injury), with Tony Romo under center the Dallas Cowboys have never - not one single time - played a game where they were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
That’s right, every single game that Tony Romo has ever played for the Dallas Cowboys has mattered. Among all other notable NFL quarterbacks, the same can only be said of Tom Brady and Joe Flacco.
Think about that. You have not once gone Christmas shopping with the Cowboys out of it. That is an incredible gift that Tony Romo has given us over the course of his career. He can never be counted out.
#9: Tony Romo
This era of Dallas Cowboys football will hold a special place in all of our hearts when it is over. Tony Romo has been the epitome of stability for the Dallas Cowboys since he stepped into our lives on the evening of October 23rd, 2006.
Among many, many others… Tony Romo’s Cowboy resume includes:
- 2,743 Completions (2nd in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 33,270 Passing Yards (1st in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 242 Passing Touchdowns (1st in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 257.9 Yards Per Game (1st in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 97.6 Career Passer Rating (2nd in NFL History)
October 23rd falls on a Friday this year, but guess who the Dallas Cowboys play two days later on Sunday? The New York Giants. It will mark the 9-year anniversary of when #9 marched his way into our lives.
When teams win championships there is always a certain magic that surrounds them, things that happen for no reason other than destiny. The Greatest 9 in Dallas Cowboys History, Tony Romo is that magic. This season feels like destiny.
Check back tomorrow to read about the Greatest #8 in Dallas Cowboys History!
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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