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Jason Witten: 2nd Best TE of All-Time; Stats Don’t Lie

John Williams

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Jason Witten

I recently replied to the great Ed Werder (formerly of ESPN) regarding Jason Witten's potential as a first ballot hall of famer.

The Other John Williams ✭ on Twitter

@EdwerderRFA True, but when you're in the elite of elite company at a position, it makes sense. Maybe only 1 TE better than Witten in the history of NFL.

And I got killed for it.

Ed Werder on Twitter

Kellen Winslow? Tony Gonzalez? Shannon Sharpe? Rob Gronkowski? https://t.co/3syd39p9y3

Ben Millett on Twitter

This..... now this is a HOT take! https://t.co/LzeZ8WfWCh

Anthony Nash on Twitter

There's a lot more than 1. https://t.co/GAwzdhfGtV

Jon on Twitter

Lmao Witten is the only Cowboy I respect but he's not even close to the 2nd best TE of all time man https://t.co/UqsMKjH1S1

Jason Witten just might be the Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Cowboys, vastly underrated and highly disrespected. He isn't flashy or fancy, but his numbers speak for themselves.

So let's look at those numbers.

In receptions, Witten has the second most receptions by a tight end of all-time. Including wide receivers, Witten currently ranks 7th in career receptions behind; Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez,  Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown. He's sitting in front of Terrell Owens, Reggie Wayne, and Randy Moss.

Witten has averaged 70 catches per season over the last three seasons and needs only 14 receptions to move up to 4th all-time in career receptions.

To Mr. Werder's point about Kellen Winslow, he has less than half as many receptions as Jason Witten has. When it's all said and done, Witten will have 300 more receptions than Shannon Sharpe.

In career receiving yards, Witten sits only behind Tony Gonzalez at the tight end position.

With a modest 700 receiving yards in 2017, Witten will sit 21st among all pass catchers in receiving yards. Antonio Gates, who came into the league the same year as Witten, sits roughly 700 yards behind Witten.

Touchdowns is where Witten falls behind some of the great tight ends of his era. He's fourth at the position in touchdown receptions behind Gonzalez, Gates, and Rob Gronkowski. Witten, however, scored more touchdowns than Winslow and Sharpe.

Here is what separates Witten from the rest: Availability.

Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys History: Jason Witten Is Easily Greatest 82 Ever 2

Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten #82

Of the possible games that Witten could have played since his rookie season in 2003, Witt has played in 99.5% of those games. He's only missed one game in his entire career. Witten has played in every game since week five of 2003. That's 219 consecutive games played. No active non-kicker has played in as many games in a row as Jason Witten.

Since 2004, Witten has started all but two games. He played in those games, just wasn't part of the starting lineup. He's been a starter for 99% of his team's games since 2004 and has started a total of 95% of the games since he's been drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

Tony Gonzalez started 94% of his possible games and missed two games during his illustrious career.

Antonio Gates has missed 20 games throughout his career. Meaning he's only played in 91% of his team's games, starting only 82.5% of those games.

For Rob Gronkowski, the cream of the tight end crop today, the numbers are a bit more alarming. In seven seasons Gronkowski has only played 16 games twice in his career. He's only played in 78% of his team's 112 games since coming into the league. While he has been a dynamic player, his lack of availability--to me--hurts his status as one of the greats of all-time.

Regarding Winslow again, he missed a ton of time in his career. He played in only 75% of his team's possible 144 games over his nine-year career. You can't be considered one of the greatest if you aren't on the field. Three times in his nine-year career Winslow played nine or fewer games.

Shannon Sharpe started only 75% of the games that his teams played and was only available for 91% of those games.

Jason Witten has never been the flashiest player at the tight end position. He isn't going to dunk on the goal posts like Tony Gonzalez or Jimmy Graham. He isn't going to make headlines for Gronk being Gronk antics. He is going to be steady and available.

What Witten has been over the course of his career is one of the most reliable players in the history of the NFL.

Just ask Tony Romo.



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.

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6 Comments
  • Fatfan

    For those who don’t get blinded by the bright lights of the glit and the glam, they can truly see the value of Jason Witten, AND not only on the field, but from all the reports from the media, and the players, he’s an MVP even in the offseason. It was Witten who helped Demarco Murray reach his full potential, and Murray has given him credit for it. Murray has gone as far as to tell young guys coming in, “if you wanna be successful, mirror Jason (paraphrased). Witten is the guy who leads in the locker-room, and everyone baller worth his weight follows him. Prescott learned that early on while still battling showers for the 3rd Qb position. Witten wasn’t always good at blocking; but he worked at it tpo become the complete TE, unlike the other TE he is compared to. He has never been fast; but he gets open and gets first downs by outsmarting the D. The NFL made up a rule about plays being dead once the helmet comes off, just so he wouldn’t embarrass and posterize the NFC East chumps anymore. (ok, a little hyperbole, but not much) Witten deserves Ring of Honor accolades the moment he retires, and Hall of Fame accolades 5y later. No question about it for me.

    • John Williams

      Not too much Hyperbole, imo.

      Witten has been killing the league for a decade plus and that Eagles moment will be the key highlight in the Jason Witten Hall of Fame highlight video.

      For anyone to consider him anything less than top 2 has some Cowboys blinders on.

  • Kevin Black

    I find it interesting that all the players people consider better than Witten are all pass-catching tight ends. TE is not a glorified tall receiver. TE requires more than that and I say he’s the best TRUE tight end in the game… ever. Gates, Winslow and even the great Tony Gonzalez all remarked about how complete Witten is and how much they admired that about him. Witten made himself into the best player on the field most Sundays and played almost every stinking down of them. You only want pass catchers, then Witten is still in the top 5, but you add everything else he does on the field and he’s top 1 or 2. You add his off-the-field stuff and there’s no competition.

    The reason no one talks about it outside of Dallas fans is Witten doesn’t blow his own horn. That’s on us as fans. We need to fix this. Witten deserves no less.

    • John Williams

      You’re absolutely right. Witten has been so under the radar by the average fan because he doesn’t make a ton of big plays, especially at this point in his career.

      He does everything well.

      • Kevin Black

        He might not make a ton of splash plays, but when you need that first down or a sure-handed reception, he always comes through.

        • John Williams

          absolutely. He has been the epitome of clutch. I think back to the Pittsburgh game. Time and again on the final drive, Dak was finding Witten in the middle of the field.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars

El mejor juego de los Dallas Cowboys en 2018 vino la semana pasada, cuando recibieron a los Jacksonville Jaguars y los vencieron 40-7. Un resultado que tomó a todos por sorpresa demostró la mejor cara en el año de este equipo que apenas tiene un récord de 3-3.

Por más dominantes que se vieron en el emparrillado el domingo pasado, esa actuación no termina de reflejar lo que realmente son los Cowboys. Son un equipo con potencial en la ofensiva y con una defensiva bastante fuerte, pero ¿pueden ganar constantemente como lo hicieron contra Jaguars?

De entrada, la respuesta a esta pregunta parece ser no. Aún en esa victoria, se vieron problemas evidentes en la ofensiva. Para empezar, la falta de ejecución en la segunda mitad en series ofensivas que incluso llegaron a iniciar en territorio enemigo. De gol de campo en gol de campo se juntan puntos, sin duda, pero en partidos cerrados eso termina costando victorias. Hace falta que Dak Prescott y compañía puedan mover el balón una vez en rango de gol de campo y convertir esas oportunidades a touchdowns.

Otra preocupación que no podemos subestimar es que el juego aéreo sigue sin funcionar apropiadamente. Cole Beasley dominó con nueve atrapadas para 101 yardas y dos touchdowns, pero el resto de los receptores se fueron sin  más de una recepción por cabeza. El único jugador que logró más de una fue el TE Geoff Swaim, quien se llevo dos en todo el juego.

Si bien Beasley tuvo uno de los mejores juegos en su carrera, más receptores tienen que involucrarse para llevar la ofensiva al siguiente nivel. La buena noticia es que en esta ocasión se enfrentaron contra una de las mejores secundarias en la NFL. Los números son malos, pero tienen la oportunidad de demostrar mucho más contra otras defensivas.

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que repartir más la bola y seguir buscando maneras creativas de utilizar a su RB Ezekiel Elliott. Pases pantallas en tercera y largo no es ser creativo. Lo vemos funcionar dos o tres veces al año pero mandan esta jugada semanalmente. En cuanto a Dak Prescott, hay mucho donde mejorar. Deberíamos estar viendo pases más arriesgados, al centro del campo y mucho mejor posicionados.

Sean's Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory's Potential Impact on Cowboys Defense

Para la defensiva, las cosas se ven muy bien. Puede que veamos la mejor versión de esta unidad esta semana, cuando viajen a Washington. Maliek Collins, Sean Lee, David Irving, y Randy Gregory estarán jugando mucho más sanos y preparados. Este es un frente defensivo lleno de talento que intimidará constantemente a Alex Smith este domingo.

A pesar de que los Redskins no tienen una ofensiva muy explosiva, el área de oportunidad principal para la defensiva de Cowboys está en la profundidad defensiva. Tanto Jeff Heath como Xavier Woods han hecho un trabajo decente, pero tienen sus momentos en los que no logran asegurar una tackleada y permiten jugadas largas.

Hace unos meses no esperábamos que fuera la defensiva y no la ofensiva la que cargaría a este equipo a muchas victorias, pero ese ha sido el caso en las tres victorias de esta temporada. Y en las tres derrotas, la defensiva fue la que mantuvo a los Cowboys en el juego.

Sin duda alguna, lo que tiene que mejorar es la ofensiva. Los receptores tienen que desmarcarse, Prescott debe ser más preciso y tener una mejor conciencia en la bolsa de protección.

Pero sobre todo, es la inconsistencia del equipo. Esto se comienza a sentir como la temporada del año pasado, cuando los Cowboys se fueron 9-7 y nunca terminaron de establecerse como contendientes a los playoffs. Aún en una NFC East donde todos los equipos tienen récords similares y débiles, no pueden continuar perdiendo una semana y  ganando a la otra.

Ganarle a los Redskins sería la primera victoria de Dallas jugando de visita. También sería la primera vez en el año en la que tendrían victorias consecutivas. Por esto y muchas otras razones, incluyendo el potencial liderato de la división, este juego es de suma importancia.

Si ganan, podría ser el momento en el que los Cowboys terminen de darle la vuelta a la página y si pierden, podría ser un indicador de que esta temporada será igual que la del 2017.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?" 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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Star Blog

Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

Brian Martin

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Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.

I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.

As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.

Jamize Olawale

Dallas Cowboys FB Jamize Olawale

Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.

I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.

Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.

Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.

Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?

Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?



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Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars 1

What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.

Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.

It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.

Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.

We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.

Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.

Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1  WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.

Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?



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