The Dallas Cowboys have had somewhat of a serious three to four week stretch of late. The anti-climactic end to the season. The firing of long-tenured coach Jason Garrett. The hiring of new head coach Mike McCarthy and staff.
Before we spend months doing the heavy lifting, talking ad nauseam about roster construction, contract extensions, draft selections, free agency, and expectations for 2020, I’ve devised a little exercise for us to have a little fun looking back at the last 20 seasons of Cowboys football.
Below, I have put together my 2000’s Dallas Cowboys All-Century Team. This week I will unveil the offense, a week from now we will get into the defense and special teams.
***Stipulations: This is NOT intended to be a career assessment for the players listed. The idea is to build a team comprised of the best single-season version of each player at each position. Any player who played for the Dallas Cowboys (even for a single game) at any point between 2000-2019 is eligible.***
Meet the offense.
Offensive Coordinator: 2007 Jason Garrett
This was a close call between two rookie OCs, 2007 Garrett, and 2019 Kellen Moore. However, if you account for the era, and consider the fact that while the 2007 Cowboys didn’t match the yardage total of the 2019 squad, but still racked up more points, the edge goes to Garrett.
The Cowboys ranked 2nd only to the historic, ridiculous juggernaut 18-1 New England Patriots offense in points score in 2007. They were 3rd in the league in yards gained and averaged 6.0 yards per play.
Not bad for a rookie OC.
(Honorable Mention: 2019 Kellen Moore)
Quarterback: 2014 Tony Romo
Light on volume, high on efficiency. 2014 was clearly the greatest season of Cowboy quarterbacking of the century, and quite possibly ever. Despite having a horrendous Week 1 outing, and sitting out a meaningless Week 17 game, Romo was an absolute surgeon all year long. Tony Romo made a real run at MVP with an utterly obscene stat line.
69.9% Comp. / 3,705 yards / 34 TD / 9 INT / 8.5 YPA / 113.2 Passer Rtg / 79.7 QBR / 5 Game Winning Drives (1 in playoffs).
Have your self a season Tony Romo. Just insane.
(Honorable Mention: 2019 Dak Prescott)
Running Back: 2014 DeMarco Murray
Murray may have only had one sensational season as a pro, but it was one of the finest in Cowboys history. For a franchise that has handed the ball off to Don Perkins, Duane Thomas, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Emmitt Smith, and Ezekiel Elliott, that’s a heck of an endorsement.
Murray handled the football an astounding 449 times in 2014, however, this season does not earn its rank on volume alone. Murray averaged an outstanding 4.7 yards per carry on his way to setting a new Cowboys single-season mark of 1,845 yards rushing. He averaged 115 yards per game, breaking the 100-yard mark 12 times and was never truly bottled up. Murray finished with 58 yards in a game he left early with a broken hand vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Other than that his season-low was 73 yards.
All in all, Murray accounted for 2,261 scrimmage yards.
(Honorable Mention: 2016 Ezekiel Elliott)
Wide Receivers (3): 2007 Terrell Owens, 2009 Miles Austin, 2014 Dez Bryant
2007 Owens: All of Owens’ three seasons with the Cowboys were pretty excellent, but we will go with the year with the highest TD total and yards per target average (9.7), amassed in just 15 games. In 2007, Owens was a big play machine, racking up 81 receptions, 1355 yards, and 15 touchdowns as the Cowboys cruised to a 13-record and home-field advantage. Owens was voted 1st team All-Pro by the Associated Press, and the Pro Football Writers Association.
2009 Austin: Miles Austin was a mere role player, until his unexpected explosion in Week 5 of the 2009 season. Seemingly out of nowhere, Austin caught both fires, and 10 Tony Romo passes for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns including overtime walk off. Despite barely amassing two handfuls of receptions over the season’s first month Austin still finished with 81 receptions, 1,320 yards, and 11 TDs
2014 Dez: Tony Romo’s best (on-field) friend, in his best year. Bryant had an awesome 3-year run (2012-2014), but 2014 was the pinnacle. 88 receptions, 1,320 yards, and a team record 16 touchdowns. Unfortunately, 2014 Dez Bryant will be remembered for the ball he didn’t catch (but really did).
(Honorable Mention: 2012 Dez Bryant, 2018 Amari Cooper)
Tight End: 2010 Jason Witten
Listen. Jason Witten has virtually all of the best Dallas Cowboy TE seasons of the 2000s because he has pretty much been the TE the entire century. One of any of 4-5 seasons would have sufficed here, but 2010 is the pick. 94 receptions, 1,002 yards, and a career-high 9 TDs.
A 1st team All-Pro selection (Associated Press, Sporting News, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Writer’s Association). All of this while playing 10 games without starting quarterback Tony Romo (broken collarbone).
(Honorable Mention: Insert Witten season of choice here)
Offensive Tackle (2): 2007 Flozell Adams, 2014 Tyron Smith
2007 Adams: A bit of a late bloomer, Adams didn’t make his first Pro-Bowl until his age 28 season, starting a string of 5 selections in 6 years. In 2007 Adams was the best lineman on the highest-scoring offense in team history. Despite drawing a career-high number of false start penalties, his outstanding work negating the league’s best pass rushers garnered the only All-Pro selection (2nd team) of his career.
2014 Smith: Any of a handful of seasons would have qualified for Smith in this spot. Smith has twice been a 1st team All-Pro, but in this particular year, Tyron started all 16 games and played 100% of the team’s snaps. Smith was exceptional protecting Tony Romo’s blindside in his career year, and running left behind Smith was a staple as DeMarco Murray set a new Cowboys record for rushing yards.
(Honorable Mention: 2013 Doug Free)
Guards (2): 2001 Larry Allen, 2016 Zack Martin
2001 Allen: In his age 30 seasons, the greatest offensive lineman in Cowboys history, and arguably the greatest offensive guard of all time still had it. As dominant as ever, Allen was one of the few bright spots for a team on the descent. Despite the Cowboys’ 5-11 record, Allen still earned the last of his 6 consecutive 1st team All-Pro selections.
2016 Martin: The 2016 Cowboys offensive line is probably a top 5 unit in Cowboys history, and Martin was it’s the best player. Martin was instrumental in keeping rookie quarterback Dak Prescott clean and comfortable while paving the way for the league’s leading rusher, rookie Ezekiel Elliott. Martin made a clean sweep of the 1st team All-Pro honors (Associated Press, Sporting News, Pro Football writers), and committed just two penalties while playing 100% of the team’s snaps.
(Honorable Mention: 2007 Leonard Davis)
Center: 2016 Travis Frederick
Again, the 2016 Cowboys offensive line was remarkable, and Frederick was its pivot man. Frederick’s 2016 1st team All-Pro selection is the only such honor earned by a Cowboys center in this century. Frederick also played 100% of the team’s snaps, while committing only 5 total penalties.
(Honorable Mention: 2007 Andre Gurode)
This is your 2000s Cowboys All-Century Team offense.