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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.



I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

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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

Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys
Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports

The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.

The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.

All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?

Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.

In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.

That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.

So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.

Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.

It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.

Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.

Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.

Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?

Tell me what you think about "Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys en Español: 3

NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.

If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.

The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.

Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.

Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.What Workload is Ezekiel Elliott Prepared for in 2018? 1

Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.

But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.

We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.

And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles
Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.

Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.

Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.

El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.

En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.

Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.

El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.

Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.

Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.

Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.

Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.

Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.

Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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