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Which Former Dallas Cowboys Could be Considered the Greatest All-Time?

John Williams

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AP Photo / Susan Ragan, File

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.

Cole Beasley on Twitter

The greatest. https://t.co/0rhm1LfgJe

And followed it up with this beauty.

Cole Beasley on Twitter

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.

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President Bill Clinton,  Dallas Cowboys Running Back Emmitt Smith #22 (JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Running Back

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?

Cause we can't give any credit to individuals with great talent around them. See 2016 Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott

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Former Dallas Cowboys Offensive Lineman Larry Allen (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Guard

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.

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Dallas Cowboys Kicker Dan Bailey #5 (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Kicker

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.

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Former Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Deion Sanders #21

Cornerback

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.

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Dallas Cowboys (HC) Jason Garrett and (GM) Jerry Jones (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Owner

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.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Star Blog

Tony Pollard, Supporting Cast or a Co-lead with Ezekiel Elliott?

Brian Martin

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How Much can RB Tony Pollard eat Into Zeke's 2019 Workload?

Since the Dallas Cowboys drafted Running Back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the first-round of the 2016 NFL Draft he's been the star of the show. Any of their other offensive weapons have been nothing more than supporting cast the past three years, but rookie RB/WR Tony Pollard could prove to be more than just supporting cast and become more of a co-lead in Zeke's show.

Suggesting Tony Pollard has a chance to be more than just supporting cast with Ezekiel Elliott is a lot to put on a rookies shoulders, but that's the kind of hype he's receiving already. He hasn't even put on the pads yet with the Dallas Cowboys, but he's already receiving Alvin Kamara type comparisons due to the versatility he's expected to bring with him to the NFL.

Living up to those Alvin Kamara comparisons might be even more difficult than becoming anything more than just an extra behind Zeke anytime soon, but it's doable. After all, Kamara immediately stepped in as a rookie and became a costar with Mark Ingram in New Orleans. It's certainly feasible to think Pollard can do the same.

Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard

There's of course only one problem with this way of thinking. Mark Ingram is no Ezekiel Elliott. And, no RB on the depth chart behind Zeke the last three years has been good enough to cut into #21's heavy workload. Is the hype surrounding Tony Pollard justified? Is he talented enough to cut into Zeke's playing time?

Those are some really big questions we don't have an answer to as of yet. Training camp could help determine the type of role Tony Pollard will have with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and beyond, but even that can be thrown out the window once games start to matter in the regular season.

Personally, I think Tony Pollard will be part of a supporting cast behind Ezekiel Elliott this year. I just don't think he's ready to step in and costar with Zeke just yet. I think he will be more of a comedic relief that will be used from time to time to keep things interesting. That's not necessarily a bad thing though considering his versatility to contribute in the running or passing game.

In time though, Pollard could prove worthy of an increase in playing time and become more of a co-lead with No. 21. It may very well be in his rookie season, but he's really going to have to prove himself and that will need to start this week when the Dallas Cowboys kick off their training camp in Oxnard, California.

What do you think? Is Tony Pollard supporting cast or a co-lead with Zeke?



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Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Extremely Formidable

Matthew Lenix

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Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Formidable

Randy Gregory showed flashes last season of the potential he has as a pass rusher. Even though he only managed one start he did see action in 14 games. Had registered 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 7 tackles for loss and 15 hits on the quarterback. That's very good production with limited opportunities. Now, this sets up the Dallas Cowboys on the edge getting to the quarterback, and here's how.

The Cowboys acquired Defensive End Robert Quinn via trade from the Dolphins back in March. He is set to start at right defensive end opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence. Gregory, who lines up on the right side as well, can potentially make said side a huge problem for offenses on 2019.

Let's just take a typical season from Quinn which is between 8-9 sacks. If Gregory can give at minimum what he did last season, that's around 15 sacks just between the two of them alone. Now, as we all know, Lawrence can be penciled in for double-digit sacks routinely at this point. So given this information that's a potential 25-30 sacks just from these three players. This is without including guys such as Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, and rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks (assuming they make the final roster).

Why is Gregory's potential impact so important? For me, it's simply where he lines up at defensive end, on the right side. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, which means when they drop back to pass they face left side defensive ends, with their backs to defensive ends coming off the right side. If you can consistently pressure a quarterback from his blindside the opportunities for sacks and fumbles increase. Regardless of how skilled a quarterback is you can't avoid what you can't see.

Of course, this all depends on what the NFL does regarding the reinstatement of Gregory. He was suspended indefinitely in February for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, a situation he is all too familiar with. My guess is Gregory and the Cowboys will ask for a conditional reinstatement like he was given by the NFL in 2018. What this would do is allow Gregory to participate in meetings and condition work until he's a full participant. He is set to apply for that reinstatement within the next few days.

The only thing Randy Gregory can do now is play the waiting game. The league is currently considering the possibility of softening their stance on marijuana use. If they are serious about it I can see Gregory getting reinstated even if it's on a conditional basis. If this is granted the Cowboys will be getting big-time pressure off the edge with Lawrence, Quinn, and Gregory in 2019.



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CB Jourdan Lewis Getting Ready For Bounce-Back 2019 Season

Kevin Brady

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Seldom-Used CB Jourdan Lewis Could Play Big Role Against Saints

For a third round pick, cornerback Jourdan Lewis sure did come to Dallas with his fair share of hype.

In fact, much of Cowboys Nation was more excited about Lewis joining the Cowboys than they were about either of the team's first two selections in that same draft, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie. But while Awuzie has soared to starting cornerback levels with Dallas during his first two seasons, Jourdan Lewis has been forced to take a back seat.

After a promising rookie season, Jourdan Lewis didn't get much playing time at cornerback in 2018. Anthony Brown took over as the starting slot corner, while Byron Jones and Awuzie manned the outside. This left Lewis as the odd man out, despite what many consider to be impressive cover skills.

Lewis is not allowing this down season to eat away at him too much, though. While speaking with the media last week at SportsCon in Dallas, Lewis gave his thoughts on how his year spent behind the other young Cowboys corners is only fueling him for the future.

 "As a competitor it's always tough, especially as a rookie and you're playing all of the time. It's definitely when you take a step back it humbles you. Sometimes you gotta understand that you have to wait your turn and work on your craft. Understand that you always have to stay a professional no matter your situation. And that's what I learned last year."

Considered undersized by the standards typically used by Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard, some have argued that Lewis was never given a fair shot to earn playing time once Richard took over in 2018. Whether or not this is true can't ever be said for sure, and the level of play Anthony Brown exhibited from the slot in 2018 didn't leave much room for substitutions either.

Still, Jourdan Lewis says he appreciates that time he spent on the bench, and he hopes that it will only drive him towards bigger and better things down the road.

"I appreciate the time that I sat last year honestly...Because it made me a better player, maybe a better person honestly."

The Cowboys cornerback situation didn't get any less crowded this offseason. Not only is Dallas bringing back all three of the aforementioned starters from a year ago, but they also drafted Miami's Michael Jackson in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.

That cornerback room is full of talent. Not only does this create a luxury for the Cowboys at one of the league's most important positions, but it also breeds immense competition between the corners come training camp.

Which, if you didn't know, begins on July 26th.



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