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The Top 99 Farce, 4 ‘Boys Rank

Bryson Treece

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Dallas Cowboys Football; was there ever a better hobby or pastime? Not for me, aside from family of course, and as we near the midway point in June, and these OTAs wrap up before the minicamp starts, I’ve still got a ways to go before my next Cowboys football fix.

It’s nothing to fret over though, not when we have such brilliant “expert” analysis and coverage as we do from the likes of Fox no less. More specifically, let’s talk about Peter Schrager and his list of the “Top 99 players for '09” – moreover his brown nose special, as I call it.

I’m betting that most of you have heard of it already from the DMN where we learned that only four Cowboys made the list at all. I know many commenters over there were hung up more on where each of those four players were ranked, but there is something to be said for those that didn’t rank at all.

I mean you’ve got Jay “The Rat” Ratliff first and foremost who wasn’t selected to the list. I guess it’s a fair assumption to say that these types of lists usually are directed more at the offensive guys since it’s offense that’s counted on to score touchdowns, but it’s defense that wins games. There are always exceptions to that rule, such as last year in the first match up between the Cowboys and Eagles with a total score of 78 points during that game. But rarely does a pro football game turn out to be a homerun derby anymore.

But let’s take a guy like Albert Haynesworth and put him up against Ratliff for a moment here, and I’m only talking about 2008 regular season stats here. Haynesworth got a top rating of 14 while Ratliff didn’t even make the list. Both are defensive tackles, both have several years of experience. We could go into the vitals here, but size doesn’t always matter if there is solid production, and both guys obviously perform each week.

  • Haynesworth hasn’t played more than 14 games in a season since 2002 while Ratliff hasn’t played less than 15 games in a season since his rookie year.
  • Haynesworth had 51 total tackles in 2008; Ratliff also had 51 total tackles.
  • Haynesworth registered 8.5 sacks to Ratliff’s 7.5 sacks.
  • Ratliff’s sacks netted him 56.5 negative yards while Haynesworth only managed 52.5 with an extra sack.
  • The only real benefit I see that Haynesworth has over Ratliff is having forced 3 fumbles to Ratliff’s zero, no forced fumbles.
  • Ratliff deflected 5 passes and Haynesworth deflected 2 passes.
  • They both recovered 1 fumble each.

I look at the numbers, the actual production of each man, and to me it seems more than just a little one-sided for Haynesworth to make any top X list when Ratliff doesn’t. It’s not a bias on my part, it’s just simple math. You have one guy that is great against the run and in getting pressure, and another guy who good against the run, great at getting pressure, and even gets into the passing game.

It’s only worse for picking Haynesworth since his numbers are significantly higher from last year than in years prior. It was a contract year, and as we all know, he has his $100 million dollars now. Ratliff has been playing like he has and hasn’t faced a contract situation yet. Anyone else really interested to see what he does in a contract year?

But the farce goes on though. DeMarcus Ware headlined the Cowboys’ effort on this list making it in at 6, with Tony Romo following behind him in a distant second at 28’th place. Now Ware, well no one for any team would argue that he deserves at least that high of a ranking. Not only are his numbers great, his attitude positive, and his ability tremendous – but his character is high as well. Being the overall sack leader since being drafted helps too.

Romo is another story. It’s a positive of this list in my mind because while there are a lot of bad things to be said for Romo from last season, there are many good things as well. I actually would have expected a much lower rating given the abundant criticism of him lately. He’s a quarterback though, so he would rank higher overall even though he only ranked 9th among quarterbacks. Putting him behind McNabb and Carson Palmer though? Seriously?

I know the guy seems to tank in the final stretch, but surely he’s worth a better ranking than Carson Palmer.

Marion Barber and Jason Witten also made the list, and that’s where my next point starts – Jason Witten ranked 96th of 99 by this fruitcake of a journalist/expert/assclown as one commenter stated it.

He was the third tight end to appear on the list behind Antonia Gates and Tony Gonzales. I’ll agree that Gonzales is good, and has been good for many years, but to say that Witten in his early age isn’t as good as the old fogy Gonzales just isn’t practical.

So yet again this year we are seeing how the rest of the NFL nation is rooting against the Cowboys in 2009, and that’s a great thing to see and hear. This time last season the Cowboys were being hyped as the Super Bowl winners, a mightily premature assumption to say the least.

But this year, while we have been favored at one point to win the Super Bowl in certain betting circles, once Owens was cut, the outlook went downhill. Our draft was rated like a D I think by the experts; the experts say we have huge problems facing us in our passing game and call it for both the QB and WR positions.

Yet all the while Roy Williams is still a top caliber receiver who had a bad year. Tony Romo had the same – a bad year that featured a finger injury that sidelined him for three weeks, and limited him for another three after that. He also had the task of dealing with Owens and his unwarranted and loud requests for more touches.

I think Owens, a 13 year veteran at the time, should be quite well aware of how it works in the NFL – if you produce at a high level, then you get more opportunity to produce, and if you continue to produce with the extra opportunities, then you keep getting them.

He just never seemed to understand that past success does not warrant current and future security. He started dropping balls, he started bailing on routes too early, he did get older and therefore slower, and he did forget to adjust his own way of thinking to fit his age and the new limitations that came with it.

Do I think a team can win games with Owens running routes? I sure do – do I think it can happen on any team currently in the NFL? I really don’t. He simply fails to account for the other 10 guys on the field with him at any given point, and that is why he became expendable for unproven and in some cases rarely tested youth in Dallas. He simply overstayed his welcome, and his vocal complaints and inability to really be a team player are to blame.

So in 2009 Romo gets to actually follow the rules of being a top quarterback again. He can go through his reads, he can release quickly, and he can find the open man – whether it is Witten, Barber, Jones, Williams, Crayton, Austin, or Bennett – he can return to being a quarterback again, instead of simply a TO placeholder.

Maybe Williams won’t be as good as Owens was in 2007, it won’t be because he isn’t producing, but rather because other guys will be producing too. There are only so many balls in a game.

But hey it’s June; we are silly and desperate fans who have no clue what’s what, right? We need to be spoon fed just enough crap to sell the papers and attract visitors. I got to admit that it’s a good theory, write enough bad crap and people will go there simply to see if the rumors are true – someone really is that moronic.



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams

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New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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