There are officially 77 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.
It wouldn’t be Sunday Funday if we weren’t thinking about Dallas Cowboys football. In exactly Cole Beasley, aka 11, weeks you’ll be firing up the grill and tweeting about how we’re going 16-0 all the way to Super Bowl 50. It’ll commemorate 38 years ago since the 1977 Dallas Cowboys went to, and won, Super Bowl XII. Today we focus on a different 77, the best one to ever wear it for the Dallas Cowboys.
The following players have all worn 77 for the Dallas Cowboys:
- Byron Bradfute, OT
- Clyde Brock, OT
- Steve Cisowski, OT
- Jim Colvin, DT
- Ron East, DT
- Bill Gregory, DT
- Jim Jeffcoat, DE
- Pat McQuistan, OT
- Solomon Page, OT
- Steve Scifres, OG
- Tyron Smith*, OT
- Larry Stephens, DE
- Bruce Thornton, DE
- Torrin Tucker, OT
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
There is plenty of 77 to go around for Cowboys fans of all ages. Fans of the 1990s will remember the legendary Jim Jeffcoat while today's fans are very excited about 24-year-old Tyron Smith.
Taken with the 9th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft (at the ripe age of 20 mind you) out of USC…it was the hope of everyone that Tyron would be our future. After a rookie year spent at right tackle, the coaching staff thought it best to establish Tyron at the all-valuable left tackle spot in 2012. He began to prosper and deliver on his draft day hype. Tyron’s true emergence came in the 2013 season as he allowed only one sack in all 16 regular season games. Tyron went into 2014 with high expectations and delivered yet again, helping fellow young o-linemen Travis Frederick and Zack Martin lead the way for the NFL’s rushing champion, DeMarco Murray.
Tyron Smith received an 8-year, $109 million contract last summer and is without question a huge, no pun intended, part of our franchise’s future. He is the leader of the offensive line (again…he is only 24 years old now to put in perspective how amazing that is) and arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. Tyron has a very legitimate shot at one day becoming our greatest 77, but as of today that honor belongs to someone else.
The 1983 NFL Draft is remembered for all of its famous quarterbacks (John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, etc.), Eric Dickerson, and various other parts. It was a draft that shaped the NFL landscape through the end of the twentieth century; however, people tend to overlook the 23rd overall pick of that draft, Jim Jeffcoat.
Jeffcoat landed on a Cowboys team that had traveled to the previous three NFC Championship Games. He helped the Cowboys transition to a new era of talent as most of the members of the famed Doomsday Defense retired shortly after Jim’s career began. Jim took over the starting defensive end spot in 1984, but really found his form in 1985. In a November 10th game at the legendary RFK Stadium Jeffcoat tallied 5 sacks on Redskin quarterback Joe Theisman. Jeffcoat would follow that year up with a team-leading 14 sacks in 1986.
Part of Jim Jeffcoat’s true greatness was his leadership on the young Cowboys dynasty in the early 90s. When he was replaced by Tony Tolbert in 1992 and was reduced to a situational pass-rusher role (the trading for Charles Haley pushed Jim even further down the depth chart), Jim found new ways to flourish…and still led the team in sacks with 10.5. He was an integral part of the defensive line rotation that Butch Johnson led that helped the Cowboys win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993.
Jeffcoat finished his NFL career with 102.5 sacks. This makes him part of the prestigious “100 sack” club that features only two other Cowboys: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Member Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware (who currently plays for the Denver Broncos). There are only 31 total members of this club, 11 of which that are already enshrined in Canton, OH. Jim Jeffcoat has an elite place in NFL History, and while Tyron Smith may one day unseat him…Jim Jeffcoat is the Greatest 77 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 76 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?
For many years, Linebacker Sean Lee has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys defense. However, that's quickly changing. The young duo consisting of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have taken over the linebacker position by dominating the field from sideline to sideline with their explosive talent. As a rookie, Vander Esch filled in for Lee at the weak linebacker position when the veteran went down injured and never gave the job back.
Currently, uncertainty surrounds Sean Lee, who took a pay cut earlier in the year to stay with the franchise he's played for since the beginning of his professional career in 2010. What will his role be in a young fueled defense in the upcoming season?
As we've all been able to see throughout his career, Sean Lee is one of the best in the game when he's healthy. Unfortunately, that's not very often. His injury proneness led him to a position change years ago, when he was moved from the MIKE (middle linebacker) to the WILL (weak side linebacker) position. Now, those two spots are taken care of.
Where does this leaves Lee? The main question is whether or not he'll move to the strong side. Many question if this would be the correct call, given that he could be at even more risk of suffering yet another injury in a position that leads to more contact. The other option would be for him to be Vander Esch's backup at WILL.
Lately, it seems like the Cowboys will indeed move him to the strong-side. After all, it only makes sense to have your best three players on the field at the same time. On minicamp, the Cowboys have been playing the veteran at SAM, letting him get reps and grow comfortable in what seems to be his new job.
But even if Sean Lee starts lining up on the strong side, what can we expect from him next season? The way the NFL offenses operate now leads to teams sending their nickel packages to the field more often than not. For the Cowboys 4-3 defense, that means three cornerbacks, two linebackers. When that's the case, it will be Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith who we see out there, not Lee.
Damien Wilson was the team's "starter" on the strong side, and he only managed to get 286 snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. That represents 28% of the team's total snaps. Even if Sean Lee becomes the starting strong side linebacker, we likely won't be seeing him as much.
Even still, I'd expect Sean Lee's experience to play a big factor when the team needs Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch to catch their breath. Lee could jump in and play a few snaps at any LB spot and do a good job at it.
After all, we can't forget that despite his injuries, Lee is a remarkable player on defense. He should still be one of the smartest linebackers with extraordinary instincts. There's a reason why, before Vander Esch arrived to America's Team, the defense crumbled without him. Last year, despite losing the starting gig, Lee still had 118 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and an interception. The longtime veteran can still play.
It will be odd for Cowboys Nation to watch Lee on a completely new role. It's also hard to put the finger on what his production will look like at the end of the year. If there's one thing we know though, is that the veteran will work hard every practice trying to get the most playing time he can. We should be excited about the team's top three linebackers.
Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long
Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.
“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”
Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.
But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.
Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.
"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com
If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.
Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."
The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.
Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.
Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?
Who is the Cowboys best player?
As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.
"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein
Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?
For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.
Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.
Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.
I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.
So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.
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