Dallas Cowboys All-Decade Team: Tony Romo at the Helm
With the 2010 NFL season upon us, I thought it would be a good time to take a quick look back at the Cowboys players who have been standouts over the last 10 years in Dallas.
A few notes before reading. . .
- Yes, I know my defense is a hybrid of a 3-4 and a 4-3, but I wanted to list the best defenders regardless of the scheme in which they played.
- It is remarkable how talented the Cowboys have been the last few years (and this season). Of the 25 players listed below, 12 are on the team right now (and Patrick Crayton just got traded).
- On the flip side, it is stunning to see how bad the teams of the early 2000’s were. If you ever want to feel better about the state of the Cowboys, take a look back at a roster from the start of the decade.
- Certain positions, such as wide receiver, right tackle, cornerback, and kicker, have been rather difficult for the Cowboys to fill adequately. Patrick Crayton, Marc Colombo, Anthony Henry, and Billy Cundiff shouldn’t really be on many all-decade teams.
QB Tony Romo
Hmm. . .Quincy Carter, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe, or Tony Romo? Cowboys fans should be grateful for what they have.
RB Emmitt Smith
Even in the 2000’s, Emmitt rushed for 1,000 yards twice in Dallas (and nearly three times), also catching 44 passes and rushing for 17 touchdowns. Marion Barber is his only legitimate competition.
If you haven’t check out my recent article on the possibility of a current running back breaking Emmitt’s all-time rushing record, I recommend it.
WR Terrell Owens
Hate him if you want, but Owens averaged over 1,100 yards and 13 TDs per season during his three years in Dallas. And just in case you haven’t heard enough of T.O. lately. . .
WR Keyshawn Johnson
The fact that Keyshawn is on this list shows you how weak the Cowboys have been at receiver the last 10 years. I debated putting Miles Austin here, but one year of production isn’t enough, plus Johnson was a tremendous blocker.
WR Patrick Crayton
Other Cowboys starters included Joey Galloway, Terry Glenn, and Rocket Ismail. I know I’m one guy who is going to miss Crayton. Good luck in San Diego. Please catch 40 or more passes this season.
LT Flozell Adams
Fans hated his penalties, but Adams was the cornerstone of the offensive line since 1999. It sure is strange seeing anyone other than Adams protect Romo’s blind side.
LG Larry Allen
Allen is perhaps the best lineman in Dallas history. It is shocking that it’s already been five years since he left Big D.
C Andre Gurode
Mark Stepnoski opened the decade at center, but Gurode has been pretty good since taking over in 2006.
RG Leonard Davis
Since failing at left tackle in Arizona, Davis has been the Cowboys’ top offensive lineman. There’s a reason the Cowboys always run a dive to the right side of the formation in short-yardage situations.
RT Marc Colombo
Those of you who are regulars here know I’m not really high on Colombo (as you can see from my grade of his 2009 play), but he wins the right tackle spot by default. Other right tackles this decade for the Cowboys include Rob Petitti, Torrin Tucker, Kurt Vollers, and Solomon Page. Erik Williams would have won the job, but he wasn’t around after 2000.
TE Jason Witten
This is a no-brainer. Witten is the best tight end in the NFL.
NT Jay Ratliff
Ratliff is a beast inside and, with all due to respect to DeMarcus Ware, perhaps the most important component of the current defense.
DE Greg Ellis
I listed Ellis at defensive end because that’s where he played the majority of his career (albeit in a 4-3). The fact that he transitioned to 3-4 outside linebacker so seamlessly despite not really possessing the “prototypical” skill set for it was shocking to me and a true testament to his work ethic and ability.
DE Chris Canty
Canty is now a rival in New York, but he showed a ton of promise while starting at defensive end for three years for the Cowboys. He had rare play-making ability from the 3-4 end position.
OLB DeMarcus Ware
OLB Dexter Coakley
If this list was created in another year or two, Anthony Spencer might take this spot. He will be one of the league’s top outside linebackers, but let’s not forget how talented Coakley was during his reign in Dallas.
ILB Dat Nguyen
Nguyen was undersized, even for a 4-3 defense, but he’s probably been Dallas’ best middle linebacker the last 10 years. It isn’t really that hard to beat out Akin Ayodele, Scott Shanle, and Barron Wortham. Keith Brooking and Zach Thomas have obviously had better careers, but didn’t play in Dallas long enough for consideration.
ILB Bradie James
I said Nguyen was Dallas’ best middle linebacker because I consider James’ position to be an ‘inside linebacker’–more of a 3-4 term. Nonetheless, James is rolling right now and is perhaps one of the league’s more underrated players. He can stop the run, defend the pass, and get to the quarterback.
S Darren Woodson
Woodson was the last component of the 90’s Super Bowl teams to remain in Dallas. He’s a stand-up guy whose absence not-so-coincidentally coincided with Roy Williams’ collapse.
S Roy Williams
Yes, Williams was overrated for awhile, but he did start off his career in Dallas with a bang.
CB Terence Newman
Fans really don’t appreciate how great Newman has been (and still is) for the Cowboys. He’s one of the league’s top cover guys and actually quite good in run support. Ironically, he’s getting healthier as he ages.
CB Anthony Henry
Mike Jenkins will take this spot in the next decade, but Henry’s presence displays how incredibly weak Dallas has been at the cornerback spot this decade. The team searched desperately for the successor to Deion Sanders, only to land such gems as Phillippi Sparks, Ryan McNeil, Duane Hawthorne, Derek Ross, and Lance Frazier. Damn.
K Billy Cundiff
Let’s just hope David Buehler is the solution to the Cowboys’ kicking woes. Nick Folk looked to be a stud up until last season, which shows just how quickly these guys can collapse.
P Mat McBriar
McBriar’s worth to the Cowboys is extremely under-appreciated. Look at the problems Dallas had with punters during his absence in 2008.
KR Miles Austin
Austin didn’t make the team as a receiver, so I figured I had to get him on here somewhere. Plus, his kick return for a touchdown against Seattle in the playoffs was big-time.
PR Patrick Crayton
Reliable and consistent, Crayton is the only player to make this list twice. . .and it isn’t just because I’m pissed he left Dallas.