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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

Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Defense Comes Alive In Loss At LA Rams 2
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.

It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.

Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.

Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.

This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.

Calvin Watkins on Twitter

Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.

Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."

https://twitter.com/TheSupremeTaco/status/1072203745868554240

Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.

It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.

Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.



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Star Blog

Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.

Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.

The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.

Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.

The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.

For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.

Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to  square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.

For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.

Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC" 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

Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.

Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.

Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.

T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.

Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.

Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.

Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.

Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.

Lo más importante de este partido...

Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.

Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.

Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival" 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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