There are officially 78 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.
Happy Saturday! I hope that you are reading this in the comfort of your own home with your feet propped up, relaxing and living the good life. In order to make your life as easy as possible, we’re going to keep this one short and simple. Let’s figure out who the Greatest 78 in Dallas Cowboys History is.
The following players have all worn 78 for the Dallas Cowboys:
- Bob Asher, OT
- John Dutton, DT
- Dean Hamel, DT
- Don Healy, DT
- Leon Lett, DT
- John Meyers, DT
- Jermey Parnell, OT
- Greg Schaum, DE
- Junior Siavii, DT
- Kurt Vollers, OT
- Bruce Walton, OT
- Dave Widell, OT
- Maury Youmans, DE
I promised you short and simple! 78 boils down to two down linemen: Leon Lett and John Dutton.
John Dutton was a defensive animal. Obtained by trade with the Baltimore Colts in 1979, Dutton came into a defensive line rotation that found itself without Jethro Pugh and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. He gets lost in the shuffle of defensive greatness considering that he put his hand in the ground next to Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy White, but Dutton may be the most underrated Cowboys down lineman in history. Dutton, White, and our Greatest 79 in Dallas Cowboys History Harvey Martin all helped anchor the 1985 Dallas Cowboys that hold the team record for most sacks in a season with 62. Dutton was a part of a Cowboys squad that went to three straight NFC Championship games in 1980, 1981, and 1982…losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion 49ers and Redskins in ’81 and ’82 respectively. While Dutton was great, 78 belongs to another Cowboy.
Leon Lett was a 7th round draft selection in 1991 that was, honestly, lucky just to make the team. After an injury plagued rookie year, Lett found himself as a big cog in the defensive line rotation in 1992. Known for his quickness and agility his teammates affectionately nicknamed him “The Big Cat” (we might see this nickname again on this countdown soon!). Lett and the fleet of pass rushers that Butch Davis put together helped the Cowboys on the defensive side of the ball throughout the run of their dynasty in the 1990s.
Lett is sometimes remembered for two iconic plays:
- Late in Super Bowl XXVII, with the game already in hand, Leon picked up a fumble and raced towards the end zone. As he reached the 10-yard line Leon held the ball out to his side, similar to the touchdown celebration of teammate Michael Irvin but did not see a racing Don Beebe. Beebe’s never-give-up speed allowed him to force a fumble with the ball falling out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback giving the ball back to the Buffalo Bills.
- It snowed on Thanksgiving Day 1993 in Texas Stadium. Neither the Cowboys or the Miami Dolphins were too thrilled about this. With the Cowboys leading the Dolphins 14-13, with 15 seconds on the clock, Miami set up for a go-ahead field goal. Dallas blocked the kick and only needed to allow the ball to come to a complete stop without touching it. Lett slid in on the snow, touched the ball, making it live and a free-for-all. Miami recovered and had another shot at victory, which they took and made.
Leon Lett should be remembered for his 217 tackles, 22.5 sacks, and 3 Super Bowl rings. He was an iconic face on the teams that we remember so fondly and is the Greatest 78 in Dallas Cowboys History. Lett is looking to continue the tradition of Cowboys excellence as he currently serves on the coaching staff as Assistant Defensive Line Coach. Right on, Leon!
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 77 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Extremely Formidable
Randy Gregory showed flashes last season of the potential he has as a pass rusher. Even though he only managed one start he did see action in 14 games. Had registered 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 7 tackles for loss and 15 hits on the quarterback. That's very good production with limited opportunities. Now, this sets up the Dallas Cowboys on the edge getting to the quarterback, and here's how.
The Cowboys acquired Defensive End Robert Quinn via trade from the Dolphins back in March. He is set to start at right defensive end opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence. Gregory, who lines up on the right side as well, can potentially make said side a huge problem for offenses on 2019.
Let's just take a typical season from Quinn which is between 8-9 sacks. If Gregory can give at minimum what he did last season, that's around 15 sacks just between the two of them alone. Now, as we all know, Lawrence can be penciled in for double-digit sacks routinely at this point. So given this information that's a potential 25-30 sacks just from these three players. This is without including guys such as Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, and rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks (assuming they make the final roster).
Why is Gregory's potential impact so important? For me, it's simply where he lines up at defensive end, on the right side. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, which means when they drop back to pass they face left side defensive ends, with their backs to defensive ends coming off the right side. If you can consistently pressure a quarterback from his blindside the opportunities for sacks and fumbles increase. Regardless of how skilled a quarterback is you can't avoid what you can't see.
Of course, this all depends on what the NFL does regarding the reinstatement of Gregory. He was suspended indefinitely in February for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, a situation he is all too familiar with. My guess is Gregory and the Cowboys will ask for a conditional reinstatement like he was given by the NFL in 2018. What this would do is allow Gregory to participate in meetings and condition work until he's a full participant. He is set to apply for that reinstatement within the next few days.
The only thing Randy Gregory can do now is play the waiting game. The league is currently considering the possibility of softening their stance on marijuana use. If they are serious about it I can see Gregory getting reinstated even if it's on a conditional basis. If this is granted the Cowboys will be getting big-time pressure off the edge with Lawrence, Quinn, and Gregory in 2019.
CB Jourdan Lewis Getting Ready For Bounce-Back 2019 Season
For a third round pick, cornerback Jourdan Lewis sure did come to Dallas with his fair share of hype.
In fact, much of Cowboys Nation was more excited about Lewis joining the Cowboys than they were about either of the team's first two selections in that same draft, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie. But while Awuzie has soared to starting cornerback levels with Dallas during his first two seasons, Jourdan Lewis has been forced to take a back seat.
After a promising rookie season, Jourdan Lewis didn't get much playing time at cornerback in 2018. Anthony Brown took over as the starting slot corner, while Byron Jones and Awuzie manned the outside. This left Lewis as the odd man out, despite what many consider to be impressive cover skills.
Lewis is not allowing this down season to eat away at him too much, though. While speaking with the media last week at SportsCon in Dallas, Lewis gave his thoughts on how his year spent behind the other young Cowboys corners is only fueling him for the future.
"As a competitor it's always tough, especially as a rookie and you're playing all of the time. It's definitely when you take a step back it humbles you. Sometimes you gotta understand that you have to wait your turn and work on your craft. Understand that you always have to stay a professional no matter your situation. And that's what I learned last year."
Considered undersized by the standards typically used by Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard, some have argued that Lewis was never given a fair shot to earn playing time once Richard took over in 2018. Whether or not this is true can't ever be said for sure, and the level of play Anthony Brown exhibited from the slot in 2018 didn't leave much room for substitutions either.
Still, Jourdan Lewis says he appreciates that time he spent on the bench, and he hopes that it will only drive him towards bigger and better things down the road.
"I appreciate the time that I sat last year honestly...Because it made me a better player, maybe a better person honestly."
The Cowboys cornerback situation didn't get any less crowded this offseason. Not only is Dallas bringing back all three of the aforementioned starters from a year ago, but they also drafted Miami's Michael Jackson in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.
That cornerback room is full of talent. Not only does this create a luxury for the Cowboys at one of the league's most important positions, but it also breeds immense competition between the corners come training camp.
Which, if you didn't know, begins on July 26th.
Jason Witten Is A Future Hall Of Famer, But Is He Now Underrated? Some NFL Execs Say So
It's hard to imagine how a 37 year old tight end who was more recently in the broadcast booth than on the football field could possibly be "underrated," but that's what some NFL Execs seem to believe.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman conducted a survey of executives around the league, asking them who they believed the most underrated player in the NFL was entering the 2019 season. While Steelers running back James Conner was the most common player named, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was also reportedly brought up.
I have to admit, this is shocking.
As mentioned, Witten is well past his prime and saw decline in his play over the last few seasons he played with the Cowboys. His retirement made sense, and his un-retirement was a surprise to most. But I suppose now that seemingly no one nationally expects Witten to do much of anything in 2019, he can be thought of as underrated.
This sentiment echoes statements which former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo made earlier last week. Romo claimed that his favorite target would pick right back up where he left off in Dallas, and would be back to the Witten of old in no-time.
"The reality of it is as long as, if you know the game the way he does, there are certain positions—he plays one of them at tight end—he's always going to have the nuance to get open." - Tony Romo
I'm still very much in "wait and see" mode with this entire Jason Witten situation. It's hard to wrap your head around a player we all thought was old and slow when he was 35 coming back after a year in retirement to be a productive NFL pass catcher.
While Witten's numbers have declined across the board, his touchdown production actually improved in 2017. If, at the very least, Jason Witten can become a secondary red zone option for the Cowboys offense, then his addition would have been well worth it offensively.
Jason Witten will wear a gold jacket in Canton Ohio one day, but will his 2019 contributions give the voters any extra reason to support his candidacy?
Star Blog3 days ago
Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas
Star Blog1 week ago
The Ringer Names Byron Jones, La’el Collins As Potential Trade Bait
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Forget “Slump,” OL Connor Williams Looking To Make Sophomore Jump In 2019
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Quarterback
Star Blog1 week ago
If Reinstated, Would Cowboys Start Randy Gregory Over Robert Quinn?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Defensive Tackle
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
PFF Projects Ezekiel Elliott as 1 of 9 RBs to Rush for 900 Yards in 2019
Player News2 weeks ago
Taco Charlton: The Next Step has to be Taken now