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!
Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys
Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.
The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.
Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.
Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.
Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.
Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.
The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.
Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.
The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.
The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.
The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.
Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history
Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.
Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.
~ ~ ~
Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.
Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins
Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.
Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.
By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.
Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.
Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.
Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Mauricio’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cowboys Steal Defensive Talent
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Star Blog19 hours ago
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: What’s Left Before Market Opens?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Do the Dallas Cowboys Have Any Trade Assets?
Star Blog1 week ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
Star Blog1 week ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?
NFL Draft1 week ago
Final Cowboys Mock Drafts Before Free Agency Address Defensive Interior, Receiver