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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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2 Comments
  • Jonathan

    Good Post.

    I just have something to add to your Ratliff vs. Haynesworth comparison: Ratliff is a 3-4 NT, while Haynesworth is a 4-3 DT. So, aside from being safe to assume that Ratliff delt with more double-teams, by design, Ratliff was granted fewer opportunities to make plays. As a 3-4 lineman, your primary responsibility is to hold your lane and be a blocker eater so that the LB’s can make plays in the gaps left between and on the outside of each defensive lineman. Therefore, the stats Ratliff did put up were the result of plays were he was actually able to get a good jump on the snap, penetrate the OL, and make a play on the ball. Otherwise, he did his primary job.

    Conversely, Haynesworth’s primary job as a 4-3 DT is to always make plays on the ball. Consider that for a moment: Ratliff made almost as many plays as Haynesworth did in a far more difficult position, given far more difficult conditions with the posibility of double team coming from either guard and center, at a size 2 inches less and 18 pounds lighter than Haynesworth.

    That’s the trouble with these so-called experts. When considering these list, they look at stats and overall contracts, and never stop to consider the differences in the actual players and, more importantly, what these players are being asked to do in their given positions.

Dallas Cowboys

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN

John Williams

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A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.

The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take. 

Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.

https://twitter.com/Nb_Eight5/status/1018940752787894277

And here is the ESPN list:

SportsCenter on Twitter

43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.

I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.

But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.

Ridiculous.

Shameful even.

The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.

Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Todd Gurley. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.

Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.

I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.

I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.

"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.

Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.



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Player News

Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys, Elliott Should Be Keeping Close Tabs on Le'Veon's Situation
AP Photo / Don Wright

The deadline for reaching an agreement with franchise tagged players came to an end last Monday, in what turned out to be a pretty uneventful day all around the league. No agreement was reached by any of the teams with their respective players, including the Dallas Cowboys and their promising "War Daddy," DeMarcus Lawrence.

But the Cowboys' front office have something to learn in this process that doesn't involve a player of their own. Something that both the front office and Ezekiel Elliott should be keeping a close eye on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also failed to secure their franchise tagged player: Running Back Le'Veon Bell. Really, no one expected a deal to be reached among the two parties. The 26-year old football super star is asking for too much money, which has led to the Steelers tagging him twice in consecutive years.

Bell, conscious of his abilities on the field, is asking for a lot of money from his football team. In 2018, he's set to earn over $14.5M under the tag. That's more than twice the money that Devonta Freeman averages per year - 8.25 million - who's next on the list of highest paid running backs in the league and the highest paid on a long-term contract.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Just to clarify: Steelers' offer to Le'Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year. Steelers' offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year. But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon.

Le'Veon, whose agent has said 2018 will likely be his last season playing as a Steeler, was reportedly offered $15M per year but that wasn't enough for him. Bell wants to get paid as an elite offensive weapon, which he is. But it turns out he's also... a running back.

It's a complicated situation and one that, if it turns out well for him in free agency next year, could revolutionize the entire running back market in the NFL. If it doesn't, he might end up regretting passing on the Steelers' offer for he won't easily find that kind of money with a team that seems to be a Super Bowl contender on a yearly basis.

The Dallas Cowboys' priorities will rely on other players during the next couple of years, but that shouldn't keep them from keeping close tabs on these events since they could be dealing with a similar scenario when Ezekiel Elliott's turn for a new deal comes around.

Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, RB Ezekiel Elliott (Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Fairly assuming that the fifth year option on Zeke's contract will be picked up after the 2018 season, locking him up through 2020, it's a problem that will be down the road for the Cowboys. But it will have to be dealt with at some point.

When his time is up, Elliott should undoubtedly be looking to become the highest-paid in the game, but the amount of money he gets will depend on the outcome of this whole Le'Veon-Steelers thing. David Johnson and Todd Gurley will also play an important role in determining the future of the running back market.

While Elliott hasn't been used as a receiving threat during his first two seasons in the league, he's still an elite offensive weapon for the Cowboys. The team's offense is based around Zeke and the running game, so it will make sense if his demands are somewhat similar from those by Bell.

Elliott might even be franchise tagged once or twice by the Cowboys if things get complicated in the future. Unlike DeMarco Murray in 2014, surely they won't be willing to let him walk in free agency once his contract comes to an end.

For now, it won't be just the Cowboys who will be keeping close tabs on this situation, but also Ezekiel Elliott and his agent. Hopefully, both parties will manage to handle things better than what we're seeing right now in Pittsburgh.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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