There are officially 79 days until the toe meets the ball at AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys will host the New York Giants on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
The number 79 isn’t sexy like 88 or 21, but I have been very excited to begin this phase of our countdown here at Inside The Star. For the most part all players to wear numbers in the 90s or 80s play the same position; therefore it’s a little bit easier to evaluate one against the other. Both offensive and defensive linemen have worn the 70s, and if you have thought ahead there’s one of each that are going to make today’s decision lots of fun.
The following players have all worn 79 for the Dallas Cowboys:
- Ben Bass, DE
- Kenneth Boatright*, DE
- Willie Broughton, DT
- Sal Cesario, OT
- Char-ron Dorsey, OT
- Ron East, DT
- Ken Frost, DT
- Forrest Gregg, OT
- John Hunt, OT
- Dick Klein, OT
- Pepa Letuli, OG
- Harvey Martin, DE
- Marques McFadden, OT
- Rob Petitti, OT
- Jacob Rogers, OT
- Daryle Smith, OT
- Larry Stephens, DE
- Erik Williams, OT
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
This whole sha-bang comes down to two guys who played completely opposite positions: Harvey Martin and Erik Williams.
Erik Williams, aka Big E, was taken by the Cowboys in the 3rd round of the 1991 NFL Draft (via the Steve Walsh trade for all you know-it-alls out there!). His rookie year was spent mostly behind Nate Newton, but when that sophomore season hit in 1992 Erik really took off. Big E gained national notoriety that season after not allowing a single Reggie White sack on November 1st, 1992 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He (along with fellow linemen of that era Mark Tuinei, Mark Stepnoski, Kevin Gogan, and the aforementioned Nate Newton) began to really find their way as a unit, which propelled the Cowboys to their 90s dynasty. E had a very physical and aggressive play style and disposition that was rarely seen at his position. He put fear into opponents on a regular basis, enough that Michael Strahan credited him during his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech a year ago. Many believe that if not for a serious car accident that caused Williams to miss a majority of the 1994 season he would have gone on to become one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play the game. Erik is still one of the greatest as he has 3 Super Bowls victories, 4 Pro Bowl Selections, and 2 First-Team All-Pro Selections to his name. Most impressive of all Williams' and his teammates accomplishments is that Emmitt Smith, the main man that they blocked for, became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher under their watch.
As incredible as Erik Williams was and as much as he meant to the Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s, #79 belongs to one player…and his name is Harvey Martin. Martin was also a third round selection, although in the 1973 NFL Draft, and from jump street was coached to be the player that the staff wanted him to be. Landry and Co. wanted to instill a sense of aggressiveness and tenacity in Harvey, and he began to embrace this persona…in fact one of Harvey’s eventual nicknames was “Too Mean.”
While quarterback sacks did not become an official NFL statistic until 1982, there are unofficial records that we can somewhat base production off of in the time before then. “The Beautiful” (as he was also known) has the following unofficial accolades:
- 114 career sacks
- Martin led the team in sacks 7 times in a 9 year period
- Martin had 23 sacks in 1977 (which is more than Michael Strahan’s official 22.5 in 2001)
- Martin has the most sacks as a Cowboys rookie with 9
These stats are unofficial as sacks were not officially counted in the NFL until 1982
Perhaps most impressive of all of Harvey Martin’s accomplishments was his 1977 season. You already read how he had an unofficial 23 sacks, but it was so much more than that. Keep in mind that while 23 sacks is a monstrous accomplishment in today’s NFL (noted by the fact that it has never happened officially) Harvey did it in only 14 games. His play was noticed by all of those around him as he was announced as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and he helped the Cowboys reach Super Bowl XII. Not only did Harvey help the Cowboys reach the promised land in 1977, but he was an instrumental part in securing the Cowboys’ second Super Bowl Victory. Martin’s contribution was so large that he was named co-MVP (the only time in Super Bowl History that there have been two MVPs) with defensive tackle Randy “The Manster” White.
Harvey Martin was a defensive monster and a part of the famed Doomsday Defense. Interestingly Harvey played his high school (Dallas South Oak Cliff High School), collegiate (East Texas State University which is now Texas A&M University Commerce), and professional football (obviously the Dallas Cowboys) careers all within the confines of the Dallas, Texas area. In his football life he never once played a home game on any level outside of there. The Dallas king is the Greatest 79 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 78 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Maliek Collins on the Verge of a Breakout Season
Maliek Collins has never lacked any ability on the field just the ability to stay on it. Foot and knee injuries have always seemed to get in the way when he's been on the brink of reaching his potential.
2019 is a contract year for Collins which means it's the most critical season of his young career. He hasn't wasted any time, though, showing what he's capable of when he doesn't have any physical limitations.
Maliek Collins beats Connor William's with a swim move in 2v2s https://t.co/prL9GsG1rY
In the first video above, Collins gets a great burst off the line of scrimmage while he simultaneously gets his hands on Connor Williams first. He controls and pushes him right into Dak Prescott's face, forcing a throw out of bounds. On the next video, he again explodes off the ball and uses a great swim move to beat Williams again in 2 on 2 drills.
His dominance hasn't been limited to training camp practice, however, as evident in his performance this past Saturday in albeit a short amount of action.
These next two plays stand out for me specifically. In the first, he uses a very physical spin move that knocks the left guard off balance and puts him right in the quarterback's face. In a league that focuses on quarterbacks getting the ball out quickly, the sooner you can provide pressure from the interior the harder it is for a quarterback to stay in the pocket and throw effectively. In the next play, he utilizes a swim move after a quick jump off the line and is right in the face of the runner as he and Jaylon Smith combine for a TFL (tackle for loss).
Beautiful TFL for Maliek Collins. Swims inside the LG on the zone concept to get penetration. Quickly flattens, latches onto Henderson's jersey and drags him to the ground. Outstanding grip strength #Cowboys. https://t.co/6ZnpKSVsRv
Collins performing at a high level in 2019 doesn't just benefit him but also rookie Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill. While he's still acquiring the tools needed for the pro level under the guidance of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli he can watch and learn from Collins as he'll be right behind him as the team's backup 3-technique defensive tackle. Hill is probably still a year away from being a big contributor with Collins looking so refreshed and healthy so this is a great time to gain all the knowledge he can from a veteran. If that learning process comes along quickly, the Cowboys will have a very solid one-two punch alongside Antwaun Woods, the starter at the 1-technique.
Health, at least so far, seems to be on the side of Maliek Collins heading into the 2019 season, which is all he's ever lacked. Motivated by the opportunity to maximize his dollars for 2020, and a rookie being drafted at the same position, I look for Collins to not only have a breakout year but one that could garner a pro bowl nod, or at least be heavy in the conversation, which would mean great things for the Cowboys defensive front.
Cowboys Nation Mailbag: What about Taco Charlton and Ezekiel Elliott?
The 2019 regular season is now less than three weeks away and now is the time when we start getting down to the nitty-gritty. The "dress rehearsal" game is coming this Saturday as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Houston Texans and a lot of the 53-man roster will likely be decided after that game.
As we inch closer to the regular season, the contract status for the Dallas Cowboys' newest version of the triplets and the construction of the 53-man roster will have even greater emphasis in the news.
Thanks for your questions this week. Let's did into this week's Cowboys Nation Mailbag.
How long until all of cowboys twitter completely turns on Zeke? Like immediately after pollards first long td run or????
— E.D.I.T.H. (@cashfeen) August 19, 2019
I guess it depends on what segment of Cowboys Twitter you're talking about.
Contract situations and hold outs always create some tension within the fanbase. They expect players to show up for work as they do. You hear people talk about Elliott fulfilling the agreement of his contract. But what people don't understand is that rookie contracts and the rookie salary scale was negotiated by players already in the league to avoid rookies making Sam Bradford type money. The veterans and to some extent the owners didn't like the idea that rookies could hold out of training camp to negotiate their first contract.
So, when Ezekiel Elliott was drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, he was locked into a contract length (including a team option for a fifth season) and a salary and bonus for the length of that contract.
The other thing to consider is that Elliott is doing exactly what the collective bargaining agreement allows him to do. Though the Dallas Cowboys can fine him, Elliott is permitted by the CBA to seek a contract extension after the third season of his rookie contract, just like you saw Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints do earlier this summer.
I get that fans are frustrated by the idea of a player "not honoring his contract," but in the NFL, that's the way football goes. The owners don't always honor the contracts they've agreed to, cutting a player with guaranteed money left on his deal because his play might have dropped off or simply because he doesn't warrant the cap hit.
But as Mike Leslie of WFAA recently pointed out on Twitter, our jobs aren't like NFL jobs.
There are a lot of folks that understand that there is a business side to all of this. The players, the coaches, and a large segment of Cowboys Nation all understand where Ezekiel Elliott is coming from. Even the "running backs don't matter" truthers aren't throwing Ezekiel Elliott under the bus for holding out for a new contract.
As I've said before, don't get mad at Ezekiel Elliott or even the Dallas Cowboys for the current state of his contract negotiations. Get mad at the Los Angeles Rams for setting a precedent that Ezekiel Elliott is attempting to take advantage of.
Ezekiel Elliott is only doing what's permitted by the CBA. Though the negotiations continue to drag on, there's still three weeks left till the start of the regular season, which is plenty of time to get a deal done.
Until this holdout lasts until the regular season, you shouldn't worry.
Actually John, I do have a question. I haven't reviewed film from Saturday yet (that's my Tuesday deal each week of the season), but your take on Taco? I thought he had maybe his best preseason game in some time. Enough to secure a spot?
— Marlon C Taylor (@MarlonCTaylor) August 19, 2019
Taco Charlton has done some nice things in the preseason thus far. He's been able to create pressure, and by Bobby Belt's splash metric, Taco Charlton is leading the team.
Cowboys leaders in disruptions (sack, TFL, QB hit, INT, PD, FF) through two preseason games:
1. Taco Charlton - 4
2. Donovan Olumba - 3
t3. Ricky Walker - 2
t3. Kerry Hyder - 2
t3. Trysten Hill - 2
t3. Joe Jackson - 2
— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) August 19, 2019
Obviously, this isn't the only way to evaluate talent, but it does give an indication that Taco Charlton has been good this preseason. I've long believed that Taco was going to make the 53-man roster for the sheer fact that he was a first-round draft pick. That may not be a good enough reason for some, but he's a player that the Dallas Cowboys won't give up on lightly. He's doing enough at this point in the preseason to warrant another year.
Cutting Taco Charlton in 2019 actually costs you money. It would cost the Dallas Cowboys roughly $3.5 million in 2019, but they could save $1.3 million in 2020. It's not likely that the Cowboys will pick up his fifth-year rookie option, which would be for 2021. Financially, the only move that would make sense is a trade, which would cost the Dallas Cowboys only $1.3 million in dead money.
While I think Taco Charlton is a player that is destined for the 53-man roster, with reports that DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford are about to be activated from the physically unable to perform (P.U.P) list, it may come down to a numbers game at defensive end.
Players like Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, Kerry Hyder, and even Jalen Jelks may have something to say about Taco Charlton's spot on the 53-man roster, but I believe they give him another year to prove he's worth retaining.
PFF Ranks Dak Prescott As Tier 3, 17th Overall Quarterback
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is the subject of constant debate around the football world. Now that it's getting time to pay him, those debates are even hotter.
As I discussed last week, Prescott has been much better than he's often given credit for, though the narrative continues to be that he is carried by his offensive line and rushing attack.
Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks heading into the 2019 season, placing them both in tiers, and in traditional order as well. Prescott clocked in at 17th overall on their list, listed as a tier 3 NFL starting quarterback.
"Tier 3: Volatile or conservative quarterbacks whose production will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and play calling. Tier 3 quarterbacks can post top-10 production in any given year in the right situation."
The other quarterbacks listed in Prescott's tier include Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Cam Newton, all ranked in front of him. Prescott is ahead of a couple of tier 3 passers as well, though, including Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr.
"Even with his added rushing ability, Prescott has settled in as a mid-tier quarterback whose production is more dependent on his supporting cast, and this will be a big year to see if he can get back to his rookie levels of efficiency."
Personally, I'd rank Prescott ahead of a decent number of those tier 3 quarterbacks, such as Stafford and Cousins. Overall, though, it's tough to have too big an issue with their assessment of Prescott and the Cowboys offense. He has been somewhat up-and-down during his time as the Cowboys starter, and saw a big spike in his play when given Amari Cooper as a weapon in the passing game a year ago.
While the entire fanbase is hopeful that he will improve on his mechanics and decision making under new leadership on offense, we can't bank on that happening just yet.
Still, Dak Prescott has looked excellent this preseason, and should be poised for a career year in 2019. I think there's a good chance he finds himself closer to Wentz and Watson on these types of rankings than Carr and Stafford by this time next season.
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Zeke Holdout: Remember, Owners Agreed to Renegotiating Contracts
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
5 Dallas Cowboys Backups Who Have Earned More Playing Time
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
Michael Gallup Showing WR1 Talent in Amari Cooper’s Absence
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Looking Absolutely Stacked
Game Notes1 week ago
3 Studs and Duds From Dallas Cowboys Preseason Week 1 Matchup
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 2
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Cowboys DT Christian Covington is a Player to Keep an Eye On
Game Notes1 week ago
Cowboys WR Jon’Vea Johnson’s Stock Drops After Preseason Opener