Sunday, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley took some heat for this tweet below. The tweet refers to Barry Sanders as the "Greatest" of all time.
The greatest. https://t.co/0rhm1LfgJe
And followed it up with this beauty.
So I can't say Randy moss is the goat cause he didn't play for the cowboys either? Lol when I retire do I get to have an opinion again?
Yes Cole, you have to wait till you retire to get an opinion on things unless you're praising the past, present, and future Cowboys. That's how this works (Note - font used to express sarcasm).
It's certainly an interesting take.
The debates over the greatest players at their position are endless and really have no answer. It got me wondering, however, which Dallas Cowboys could be in the debate for greatest player at their position of all time.
The tweet that set Cole Beasley's timeline ablaze yesterday was in regard to calling former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders the GOAT (greatest of all-time).
Obviously those of us in Cowboys Nation would have another opinion on the matter, considering the NFL's All-Time leading rusher donned The Star for all but a couple of forgotten seasons in Arizona.
It's arguable that Sanders could have been the NFL's All-Time leading rusher if he hadn't called it a career with good years left, but we will never know. Part of a career that is greatness like Emmitt's is, is longevity. Smith played for 14 years, while Sanders only played nine seasons.
For many of us, it's Emmitt Smith and then everyone else when considering the running back position, but the debate still rages.
Many would say Walter Payton or Jim Brown and those would be legitimate names in the discussion, but it ultimately--and typically--comes down to two names in the debate; Smith and Sanders.
Those, like Beasley, who say Sanders is the greatest, do so because of the statistics he achieved with what is perceived as lesser talent. Those same people would argue that Smith was the product of playing behind a great offensive line, with a Hall of Fame wide receiver and a Hall of Fame quarterback.
But why can't Emmitt Smith get any credit for being the offensive focal point on a team that won three Super Bowls, went to a fourth NFC Championship, and was the most dominant force in the league in the 90s?
Larry Allen was selected to six -- Six!!! -- straight 1st-team All-Pro teams from 1996 to 2001. He made the Pro Bowl 11 times in 12 seasons and the one season he didn't make it was in 2002 when he suffered an injury and only played in five games.
In 1999, he only played 11 games and still was selected as a first team All-Pro. Allen, incredibly was also selected as a 1st Team All-Pro as a left tackle in 1998.
He was selected to the All-Decade Second Team for both the 1990s and the 2000s. How the Pro Football Writers could even dare leave him off the first team is utterly ridiculous. Just look at his resume! If that doesn't get you in the conversation as the best guard of all-time, I'm not sure what could.
The offensive linemen whose careers most resemble Allen's, according to Pro Football Reference are:
- Tackle Jonathan Ogden (four 1st Team All-Pros)
- Guard Gene Upshaw (five 1st team All-Pros)
- Tackle Walter Jones (four 1st Team All-Pros)
- Center Kevin Mawae (three 1st-Team All-Pro selections)
Allen's six All-Pro teams trump all those who all had "similar" careers to Allen.
I don't know a lot about offensive linemen, but what I do know is that Larry Allen had the respect of his peers and the fear of defenses throughout the league. You didn't want to see him in space and he was tremendous in the trenches.
In my mind, he is the greatest of all time.
Dan Bailey has been going back and forth between first and second all-time in career field goal percentage. The only thing that is keeping him from being in the conversation with people like Adam Vinatieri is clutch field goals made during the post season.
He was clutch in the 2016 playoff game against Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook erased any memory of Bailey's game tying kick with less than two minutes to play. If Dallas is able to get off the field on that third down play, Bailey may have just had a chance to kick a game winner and send Dallas to the NFC Championship game.
During the regular season, only Justin Tucker can stake a claim as the best kicker in the history of the NFL, but Bailey is right there as well.
If Dallas can make a run into the playoffs and make some clutch kicks along the way, Bailey can begin to cement himself as the greatest of all-time.
There wasn't a player in the 90's who was as dominant at their position as Deion Sanders was at cornerback. You may find someone out there who would argue another player has been the best corner in the history of the NFL, but it's likely they aren't speaking rationally.
Deion Sanders won two Super Bowls. One with the San Francisco 49ers and then another with the Dallas Cowboys.
Sanders made eight Pro Bowls and was selected to the All-Pro 1st-team six times.
He finished with 17 total touchdowns for his career and his 53 interceptions tie him for 24th all-time.
Sure, 24th all-time isn't that great, but Sanders' reputation led to most quarterbacks throwing to the other side of the field. He was the definition of the shut-down corner. Before Revis Island came into being, Sanders was marooning opposing wide receivers on his own deserted island.
Rod Woodson, who played during a similar era to Deion, had more interceptions, but also switched to safety later in his career. He only recorded five 1st-team All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowls at cornerback.
Deion's flair and attitude were second to none during the 90's. He talked the talk and walked the walk. He's one of those generationally transcendent players who would dominate the NFL in any era.
Jerry Jones is arguably the most prolific owner in NFL history.
Having bought the Dallas Cowboys for a mere $100 million, he and the rest of the Jones family have built it into the most valuable sports franchise in the world. Forbes recently released their updated franchise values and the Dallas Cowboys were valued at $4.2 billion.
Jerry Jones has earned enough clout to help teams like the Los Angeles Chargers, the Los Angeles Rams, and Oakland Raiders (soon to be in Las Vegas) find new homes with new stadium deals.
His three Super Bowl trophies from the early 90s are still quite impressive. In the same time frame, only the New England Patriots have more championships, but Robert Kraft doesn't have the same league-wide influence that Jerry Jones holds.
When Jones' bought the Cowboys, Major League Baseball was widely considered the most popular sport in the United States. Now, the NFL has completely taken over the sports market. Its offseason holds just as much intrigue as some sport's regular season.
The NFL draft has become an event unlike any other.
Jerry Jones is a big reason for all of that.
He helped shape the way the NFL approaches its TV deals and advertising. Not only has Jones taken America's Team and made it an international brand, he's done the same for the NFL. In Mexico, England, and Germany, American football continues to see growth in its club and youth levels. Every year more and more non-Americans make their way into the NFL.
Soon to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Jones' contributions to the NFL are legendary and will leave a legacy that will help the NFL continue to flourish for decades to come.
A lot of you will invariably argue that Jerry Jones is a terrible owner for allowing Jerry Jones to continue to be the general manager. Well, if "you liked those three Super Bowls, and I hope you did, I hope you did very much," you better be willing to give Jerry Jones the GM credit for them. Because if you are willing to blame Jerry for the down years, then you better give him credit for the good years as well; recent history included.
Which Dallas Cowboys do you think deserve consideration for greatest of all time at their position? Which ones are on their way to being the greatest of all time at their position? Let us know in the comment section.
How Should The Cowboys, And The NFL, Value RBs?
There is no one, stand-alone "best" strategy for winning in the NFL. There are, of course, common themes and ideals which run true year in and year out among the top teams.
Strategy in the NFL is dynamic, or at least it should be. Running in place for too long under the same leadership often breeds mediocrity, and refusing to move with current trends can put you at a severe disadvantage.
Succumbing to those trends without fully analyzing the confounding factors your situation presents, however, can also ruin a team building exercise.
With that being said, should teams pay elite running backs top dollar? Or are those running backs expendable, replaceable, and often forgettable within the NFL machine?
To be honest these aren't very fair ways to pose legitimately interesting questions. You can acknowledge that a running back is important to your offense while also acknowledging that you don't want to break the bank for a position with such injury risk and high turnover year-to-year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently facing this dilemma, as their star running back Le'Veon Bell asks to be paid like an elite "weapon," not as a normal running back. And when you examine how the Steelers deploy Bell within their offense, he clearly has a point.
Bell is not your traditional "running back." He lines up on the boundary, in the slot, and is a passing threat out of the backfield as well. On top of all of this versatility, Bell is an excellent pass protector, something which is often lost among other "versatile" backs.
Bell can quite literally do it all for an offense, but the idea of paying that position elite-level money makes teams cringe. As The Athletic's Marcus Mosher pointed out on Twitter, teams like the New England Patriots have been able to replicate Bell's production by using multiple speciality backs rather than one workhorse.
In theory, this takes away the injury risk component to a certain extent. Rather than giving one player 350-400 touches per season, you spread those touches out and allow for players to do what they do best.
Lately, the NFL has seemed to agree that this is the most efficient way to play offense. But when you have a player like Bell or Ezekiel Elliott, in what way is taking the ball out of their hands "efficient" at all? In addition, how is using three players to mimic the skill set of one efficient?
Yes, the NFL is a passing league, but when you have a playmaker who is of the caliber of a Bell or an Elliott, it is up to the offense to deploy in him ways that maximize his value. Teams should be using the Bells and Elliotts of the world as pass catching threats and as weapons all over the field. Force the entire defense to account for your running back rather than just jamming him between the tackles like it's 1975.
The movement towards "running back by committee" rather than the traditional one-back system can also be credited to the lack of workhorse-worthy backs entering the league.
Ezekiel Elliotts don't grow on trees, they are rare and special players. And when you have one, especially when you spend a premium pick on him, you should get the most out of him that you can. Playing winning offense in the NFL is about more than just "do you run or do you pass," and it often hinges on creating splash plays of 15-20 yards.
If you can get those plays through the use of an elite running back, that player becomes intrinsically valuable to your team. No matter what "position" he is labeled as. Of course you want to be able create mismatches in the passing game all over the field, so when you are able to do this with a running back, shouldn't that be deemed as highly valuable?
We can't say just yet if the Cowboys should re-sign Ezekiel Elliott once he enters free agency. After all, five seasons (and a franchise tag year) where he touches the ball more than most players in the league will almost certainly bring about some wear and tear.
But with the way the Cowboys have chosen to play offense, and the way in which they've built their roster, a workhorse back like Elliott is necessary for success.
Once again, at least it is for now.
Is DE Kony Ealy At Risk Of Not Making Cowboys Final Roster?
As training camp approaches and we draw closer to the 2018 NFL season, fans are beginning to get excited for new faces, old stars, and new beginnings for the Dallas Cowboys.
One player which has been a bit forgotten about over the last few months, and even overlooked when he was first signed back in April, is defensive end Kony Ealy. Of course, some of this overlooking is justified, as Ealy's career has been filled with more valleys than peaks thus far.
With a fresh start in Dallas, though, some expect Kony Ealy to rekindle his career, and look like the player he was during the Panthers' Super Bowl 50 loss just a few seasons ago. The problem is, that game looks like the outlier and not the norm over his professional career.
Originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers, Ealy has had a shaky start to his career. Now joining his third team in the same number of seasons, it's certainly fair to say he hasn't lived up to his second round draft selection.
At 6'4" and 275 pounds, however, Ealy fits the mold of a 4-3 defensive end in the Cowboys' scheme. While he isn't the explosive pass rusher that other players on the roster are (and can be), he could provide solid rotational depth across the defensive line.
With fellow former second round pick Randy Gregory gaining reinstatement to the NFL this week, Ealy could struggle to salvage any real playing time with the Cowboys at all. Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, and Taco Charlton all feel like locks to make the team.
Then there is 2018 day three pick Dorance Armstrong and former fourth round pick Charles Tapper providing competition as well.
Tapper and Armstrong are unproven, but have the athletic profiles to become solid edge rushers at the professional level. For both, especially Tapper, health is of the upmost concern going forward. If Tapper can remain healthy, he has a real shot of making the team and having his impact felt as early as 2018.
That "if" has been a serious one thus far, however.
When the Cowboys first signed Kony Ealy back in April, I really believed he could provide solid and cheap depth along their defensive line. Now in July, I still have those beliefs, but it's become fair to question if he will even find himself on the final 53-man roster based on the competition around him.
Can Connor Williams Follow in Zack Martin’s Footsteps?
Connor Williams has yet to play a single snap the NFL, but there are already some pretty high expectations for the rookie Guard. That's because he will be sandwiched between two Pro Bowl players in Center Travis Frederick and Left Tackle Tyron Smith. But, it's the Dallas Cowboys third Pro Bowl offensive lineman Williams should try to emulate and follow in the footsteps of.
Yes, I'm talking about Zack Martin.
Zack Martin's career couldn't have gotten off to a better start coming out of Notre Dame. He hit the ground running as a rookie with the Cowboys and put together a dominating performance his first year in the NFL, earning his first Pro Bowl bid as well as being named to the All-Pro team. He continued to play at a high level ever since and has not only turned into the best player at his position, but continued his Pro Bowl streak every season since entering the league.
To ask, or even expect Connor Williams to have the same kind of immediate success as Zack Martin is probably a little unfair, if not impossible. The kind of success Martin has had already in his career is almost unheard of. But, that's not to say Williams isn't going to try to follow in Martin's footsteps and to become the best player he can.
The footsteps I think Connor Williams should try to follow as it pertains to Zack Martin is how well he made the transition from a collegiate Offensive Tackle to an NFL Guard. I think that should be Williams' main focus right now with training camp coming up.
Williams will be inserted into the starting lineup as the Cowboys new Left Guard. It will be a new position for him after playing mainly Tackle at the University of Texas, that will require an entirely new mindset and technique. But, it's in transition I believe he can make rather smoothly.
Connor Williams should benefit from Zack Martin's similar transition from college OT to an NFL OG. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the rookie shadowing Martin throughout training camp to soak up as much knowledge as possible. It's probably the best way for him to jumpstart his career.
Now, I fully expect to see some growing pains from Williams throughout the 2018 season. It's to be expected from any rookie, especially one transitioning to a new position. But, I do believe he will not only be an upgrade at LG for the Cowboys, but will make the entire OL even better.
I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see what kind of player Connor Williams ends up being this season.
Do you think Connor Williams can follow in Zack Martin's footsteps?
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