Tony Casillas, the second overall pick in the 1986 draft, was featured on Cowboys Cast yesterday with Bobby Belt. The former Sooner spent part of his Memorial Day Weekend walking down memory lane and giving us his insights on the 2015 version of the Dallas Cowboys.
There’s a lot that’s been said about how our stout offensive line (I think teams are starting to draft robots to play defense because that’s what it’s going to take) and how it compares to the former Great Wall of Dallas. There’s Tony Romo, this generation’s Troy Aikman. There’s Dez Bryant, The Playmaker reincarnated. Terrance Williams has shown that he is to Dez as Alvin Harper was to Irvin.
Who is the modern-day Tony Casillas?
Bobby talked to Casillas about how when he was traded to the Cowboys from the Atlanta Falcons in 1991, he found himself as the veteran leader of a young group of defensive linemen at the age of 27. Casillas remembers players like Leon Lett, Jim Jeffcoat, Tony Tolbert and the brotherhood that they developed among each other. Their defensive line was bolstered by Russell Maryland, the 1991 first overall pick, and Charles Haley, acquired in a trade from the San Francisco 49ers in 1992, and these guys are all starting to reappear. They were at the time, in Casilla’s own words, “unknown.”
They won a playoff game in the wildcard round at Chicago and traveled to Detroit for the divisional round. Losing handily to the Lions, 38-6, the Cowboys vowed to never suffer such a defeat again.
[quote_regular name=”” icon_quote=”no”]“We don’t want to be embarrassed, we want to be the hunted. We don’t want to go out and hunt the other team… If you’re being hunted that means that people respect you and know that you’re for real.”[/quote_regular]
The World Champion 1992 Dallas Cowboys had the league’s number one defense in terms of yards allowed and it was Tony Casillas who helped anchor that unit. Now it’s becoming reincarnated.
The 2014 Dallas Cowboys saw their own wave of success.
Their win in the playoffs against the Detroit Lions (ironic, huh?) was one of the more thrilling games of the entire season. It was outdone, however, in a showdown at Lambeau Field where Dez Bryant made one of the most spectacular catches that was overruled in a Cowboys loss. The Cowboys tasted playoff success, much like in 1991, and have vowed to never suffer such a defeat again.
Jeremy Mincey has become the leader on the defensive front. He’s the savvy veteran, much like Casillas was, leading the charge. Tyrone Crawford is developing into the Jimmie Jones of our time. Much has been said about Greg Hardy’s similar path to that of Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley. And Randy Gregory is our newly drafted high-profile pass rusher, much like Russell Maryland. DeMarcus Lawrence has shown the same promise that Jeffcoat did, but more than anything, this new band of brothers is relatively unknown.
The Cowboys of the 90s built a tough offense and were able to run the football, but it wasn’t until the solidification of Dave Wannstedt’s defense (and Butch Davis’ front line) that they became a complete team.
Tony says of the 2015 Cowboys mirroring the 1991-1992 teams, “They want to beat you up in the fourth quarter.”
The Cowboys have spent some considerable time, energy, money, and draft picks to turn the defensive front around and it’s starting to look more and more like Casillas and Co. running around out there.
While the new defensive line is chasing quarterbacks, the 2015 Cowboys are on the precipice of achieving what Casillas’ Cowboys did in the early 90s…
Becoming the hunted.