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Is Joseph Randle the New Larry Johnson?

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Is Joseph Randle the new Larry Johnson? 1

Joseph Randle had a comment after the first day of Organized Team Activities that sent everyone into a whirlwind. When asked about DeMarco Murray’s franchise-record setting season last year, Randle responded:

“He had a good year last year, and I got to sit back and watch a lot, and I felt like there was a lot of meat left on the bone.”

As you can imagine this took off. People wondered, “What bone? Chicken or thigh?” and proceeded to hype up Randle’s statement.

I’m here to tell you not about meat on bones, although chicken wings do sound delicious right about now, but that Joseph Randle has the chance to do something special this year. Grab a drumstick and walk with me.

A lot has been made about the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys. This is a unit that featured three pro bowlers in 2014, two of which were voted to the All-Pro team. DeMarco Murray ran behind them for a Dallas Cowboys single-season record 1,845 yards. DeMarco is now a Philadelphia Eagle…and you can’t just assume that the next guy running behind that line is going to be great, right?

Or can you?

Let us look at the early 2000s Kansas City Chiefs. They featured one of the greatest offensive lines in NFL history, a line that now has two Pro Football Hall of Famers.

2001

The Chiefs’ offensive line (from left to right): John Tait, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields (who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August), and Marcus Spears.

Priest Holmes, his first year in Kansas City, rushes 327 times for 1,555 yards and 8 touchdowns.

2002

The Chiefs’ offensive line (from left to right): Willie Roaf (Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012), Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields, John Tait (who moved from LT to RT).

Priest Holmes rushes 313 times for 1,615 yards and 21 touchdowns.

2003

The Chiefs’ offensive line was unchanged.

Priest Holmes rushes 320 times for 1,420 yards and 27 touchdowns.

2004

The Chiefs’ offensive line undergoes one change, John Welbourn plays RT as opposed to John Tait the two years prior.

Priest Holmes, in only eight games due to injury, rushes 196 times for 892 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Take a look at that data again. Priest Holmes had some incredible years. He led the league in yards in 2001 and was an All-Pro from 2001-2003. After an enormous amount of carries, he just broke down physically and didn’t have the same year in 2004.

Wait…so you’re saying that after a lot of carries he regressed? Even though he had put up monster numbers? And he had an incredible offensive line? WHERE HAVE I HEARD THIS STORY TEN THOUSAND TIMES BEFORE?

Yes, Priest Holmes’ 2003 is similar to DeMarco Murray’s 2014 in that they each carried the ball no less than 320 times. (DeMarco carried the ball 392 times in 2014).

So what? That doesn’t prove anything. What happened the next year?

2005

The Chiefs’ offensive line was unchanged.

Larry Johnson, in his third season, rushes 336 times for 1,750 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Larry Johnson?! Don’t you mean Priest Holmes???

I do not. A new running back by the name of Larry Johnson, with the same offensive line, ran for more yards than Priest Holmes ever did.

Joseph Randle is entering his third season. He will be behind what will either be an unchanged, or improved, offensive line. Get excited.

Tell us what you think about "Is Joseph Randle the New Larry Johnson?" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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2 Comments
  • Bob Chenoweth

    2000’s Chiefs O-line featuring Marcus Spears???? COME ON MANNNNNNNN

  • Bob Chenoweth

    the other issue is…. Larry Johnson was a big, BIG BOY. like 6’2 230 I believe, and a #1 pick…. Randle is like 5’11 210, and thats being generous. Being a Cowboy fan, I hope to GOD that Randle can have even CLOSE to the kind of season LJ did…. but I’m not betting on it. He shouldnt carry the ball anywhere near that many times anyway. AND I dont want him to dissappear like LJ did a cpl yrs later either….

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Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

The Cowboys took their fair share of heat for selecting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. But through just over half a season, Dallas is looking vindicated in their decision.

Vander Esch was arguably the best defensive player on the field during Dallas' 27-20 win in Philadelphia Sunday night, and made the two biggest defensive plays of the game as well. Finishing with a game-high 13 tackles, Vander Esch was all over the field in both run and pass defense.

The first of his two massive plays came in the first quarter. After the Cowboys offense stalled deep in their own territory, the Eagles looked to be in prime position to strike first with a short field. On Carson Wentz' first pass attempt of the drive, however, Leighton Vander Esch was there to intercept him and return the ball back 28 yards.

Those return yards proved key as well, giving the Cowboys the short field and an easy path to their first three points of the night. And with the way their offense looked early in this game, Dallas could use all the help they could get.

The biggest play of the game, though, came late in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles facing a third and long and down seven points, they absolutely needed a conversion to keep pace with the surprisingly hot Cowboys offense. Philadelphia tried to beat Dallas with a running back screen to the backside, inviting the pass rush and getting blockers out in front.

There seemed to be nothing but blockers and green grass ahead for the Eagles on this play, with "Next Gen Stats" expecting a 22 yard gain after the catch. Then, Leighton Vander Esch eluded two blockers and tracked down the running back for a gain of just 3.

Next Gen Stats on Twitter

Leighton Vander Esch made a game-saving tackle late in the 4th quarter to preserve the Cowboys 27-20 win. Corey Clement was expected to gain 22 yards after the catch (gained 3), -19 YAC Below Expectation, the most yards saved on a pass play this season. #DALvsPHI #DallasCowboys https://t.co/0DF7jhPQzH

If not for this tackle, who knows how both that Eagles' drive and the game would have ended. Vander Esch saved the day for Dallas, and forced the Eagles into a tough fourth and long situation with the game on the line.

I know it is still early in Vander Esch's career, and even relatively early in this season as well, but it's become clear the Cowboys hit a home run with their 2018 first round selection. Vander Esch is fitting in beside Jaylon Smith with ease, and with those two athletic freaks together, the Cowboys look to have one of the brightest defensive futures in all of football.

Of course, there are now legitimate questions about what the Cowboys should do with their captain Sean Lee. But as of right now, it should be Leighton Vander Esch's job to lose.



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Star Blog

Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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LB Leighton Vander Esch Rare Bright Spot In Cowboys Disappointing Loss

At 3-5, there are very few positive things to point out when discussing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. One of those few things has been first-round rookie Leighton Vander Esch, whose play at linebacker has taken the league by surprise. Seen as a raw talent who could develop into an elite player with time as a prospect, Vander Esch's impact on the field has been immediate.

Through nine weeks in the NFL season, the Boise State product should definitely be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. As much as Sean Lee's injury will hurt the Cowboys' defense, it will get the rookie more playing time and a big opportunity to put his name in the minds of NFL Honors voters.

Sean Lee will miss some time after re-injuring his hamstring for the second time this season. Earlier in the year, Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch were able to keep the defense from crumbling without their veteran captain. Even with all the offensive struggles, that should continue to be the case for the linebackers.

Vander Esch has only played in 65% of the Cowboys' defensive snaps, yet he's tied for ninth place in solo tackles in the entire league with 49. He's at 64 total tackles and two pass deflections and has been a magnet to opposing ball carriers every time he's been on the field.

He's the third highest graded rookie LB for Pro Football Focus. Most times, rookies find success like this by being rotational players or simply splitting snaps with other players. But as previously mentioned, Lee has already been out for a handful of games in 2018 and Vander Esch has lived up to the hype.

Simply put, Leighton's play as a rookie has already put Sean Lee's future on the Cowboys in question. With such an injury history and a two young studs ready to take over the reigns, Dallas could very well release Lee prior to the 2019 season.

Now granted, the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year will not be an easy one to win for Vander Esch. Fourth overall pick Denzel Ward has been an impressive cornerback for the Browns and fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb has been one of the best pass rushers on Sundays. Not to mention the NFL leader in solo tackles, Colts' LB Darius Leonard.

Despite a great start to his season, the Cowboys young LB will have to play way better for his name to be called when the Defensive Rookie of the Year is revealed at the NFL Honors event in February. There are some pretty big names he has to catch up with in order to make this happen.

Tell me what you think about "Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There’s Only One Side To Blame

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There's Only One Side To Blame

It feels like an eternity has passed since 2016, yet somehow, it was only 2 seasons ago.

The Dallas Cowboys were riding high, en route to a 13-3 season and an NFC East crown. They had drafted the league's leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the previous draft, and believed to have found their franchise quarterback over 100 picks later.

Up in Philadelphia things weren't going as smoothly, but they were certainly on the upswing. After trading up to select Carson Wentz in that same 2016 draft, the Eagles also believed they had their quarterback of the future.

Cowboys/Eagles. Dak/Wentz. A debate between two hated rivals which began in 2016 and seemed like it would go on for the next decade. It was almost too perfect.

Countless articles and blog posts were written about the birth of a quarterback rivalry which would span for the foreseeable future. Which team had the better draft haul in 2016? Which team was better set up for the future behind their young quarterback?

The two met for the first time on Sunday Night football back in 2016, and for much of the night neither was very good. They both looked like rookies, but at the end of the game Dak Prescott was the one who came through in the clutch, throwing the game winner in overtime to Jason Witten. The rivalry was born, and the Cowboys had the upper hand.

Fast forward to today and things are much, much different. Prescott and Wentz have only really played each other one other time since that first match-up, a game which the Eagles dominated and Dak Prescott threw 3 interceptions.

The other two games have been meaningless and ugly, two adjectives which could describe every Cowboys game the past calendar year.

Simply put, there is no rivalry. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have not held up their end of the bargain since that first match-up in 2016. Prescott's play has fallen off considerably, as he has fallen victim to just about every piece of lazy analysis Eagles fans gave during his miraculous 2016 season.

Doug Pederson has become the anti-Jason Garrett, quite literally making his name off being aggressive on critical downs and refusing to punt on fourth and short in plus territory. The Eagles front office has become the anti-Cowboys, going after pricey trade targets and free agents to ensure they are making the most of their young quarterback's rookie contract window.

The Cowboys have failed just about everywhere that the Eagles have succeeded. And, Dak Prescott has failed just about everywhere Carson Wentz has excelled.

Maybe things will turn around this Sunday for Dallas, and if they are able to win, they'd still be very much alive in the division race. But all of that seems highly unlikely. There is no longer a Dak/Wentz rivalry. There's barely even a reason for Eagles fans to have Dak Prescott on their radar.

Let's hope Prescott and the Cowboys can begin to change things this Sunday.



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