Just one year removed from retirement, Jason Witten has decided to leave Monday Night Football to do what he was born to do, compete on the gridiron. The future Hall of Famer, second only to Tony Gonzalez in TE receptions and reception yards, will dust off his cleats for at least one more year with America’s Team.
The Dallas Cowboys have released the following statement from Witten, ” The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong. This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt”.
Witten will be 37 when the regular season starts for his 16th season. In 2017, Witten was a Pro Bowl selection with 63 catches for 560 yards and 5 touchdowns, starting all 16 games. His retirement after the season left the Cowboys with a question mark at the tight end position for the first time in 15 years.
The response was a tight end by committee with 4 tight ends, only one of which even had an NFL stat sheet prior to the 2018 season, in Geoff Swaim. All four tight ends (Gathers, Jarwin, Schultz, and Swaim) started at least 4 games in 2018, and combined had only 5 more receptions than Witten in 2017, and one less touchdown. With Geoff Swaim being an unrestricted free agent, and the other 3 salaries combined being less than $2 million for the 2019 season, it seems unlikely to see Swaim back in a Cowboys uniform.
The contract details for Witten have not been released yet, but he qualifies for a very cap friendly figure with veteran minimum benefits. The 2019 veteran minimum salary for players with 10 or more years of service is $1.03 million, with only about $650k of that counting against the cap. It is not known if this is the route that Witten and the Cowboys will go, or if he will be getting paid a salary closer to his $7.4 million salary for 2017. Seeing as he appears to be coming back more for a championship run rather than for money to pay off debts, the former seems much more likely.
Assuming that #82 is healthy and ready for another grueling NFL season, this will make the Cowboys offseason that much easier by being able to focus on other positions in free agency and also with the several looming contract extensions of Lawrence, Jones, Zeke, and Dak. This may also convince Sean Lee to make his 2019 salary more cap friendly for a team desperate for its first Super Bowl in 24 years.
Welcome back 82!
About the AuthorDoctor Matt is 1/2 of the Sports Over Served Podcast and skilled in the art of creative writing (according to his 3rd-grade English teacher). He also says he knows a thing or two about basketball, which qualifies him as our NBA Expert? Don't agree with Matt? Feel free to leave a comment!
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By Brendon Jessop — 4 years ago
The Cowboys are on a historic pace. For the first time since 1975, they have won 8 straight games. Let that sink in for a minute. Neither Tony Romo nor Troy Aikman ever won 8 in a row. This team is clicking on all cylinders and as a result, we finally have an end to the quarterback controversy. Jerry Jones said after the game that Tony Romo will be active next week…as Dak Prescott’s backup. “I think the longer (Prescott) plays like this, the more we have a chance to have another win,” Jones told reporters. “Everybody here wants to do only really one thing, is win… to be able to come out of here with a win just obliterates any thought about any of the issues that you might have as to who’s out on the field.” Controversy squashed.
Dak Prescott finished 22 of 32 for a season high 319 yards and 2 touchdowns for a passer rating of 121.7 bringing his season average to 106.2. The only 2 games he has not broken the 100 mark is game 1 against the Giants (69.4) and against the Eagles (79.8). Dak continues to keep the game moving forward at his pace. He has settled down and refuses to force the ball to any one receiver. Dez Bryant played for his dad who passed away Saturday from an “unspecified illness” and made his father proud catching 6 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown on a 50 yard bomb from Prescott. Dez isn’t the player we have been used to seeing over his career, but he has the ability to dial it up at any moment. His hands aren’t as solid as they have been and seeing Antonio Brown on the other side further brings in to question just how ‘elite’ Dez really is. As Dak and Dez play more together, the timing will come on those fades in the end zone, but even on the 50 yard TD, he bobbled the ball for several steps before finally reeling it in. Down the stretch, Dez needs to find his hands and become the man that he was in 2014 in order for this team to make a deep push in the playoffs. Having this offensive line ‘Parting the Red Sea’ for Ezekiel Elliott helps alleviate some of the pressure as Elliott rushed for 114 yards on 21 carries resulting in 2 touchdowns as well as taking an 83 yard screen pass to the house for another. Watching this offense have their way with defensive fronts in the second half is a thing of beauty and something you don’t see anywhere else in the NFL.
This game showed the holes in the defense. Antonio Brown caught 14 of his 18 targets for 154 yards and 1 touchdown, proving that an elite receiver will get his catches regardless of coverage. Big Ben Roethlisberger was back to his Hall of Fame form completing 37 of 46 for 408 yards, 3 touchdowns and a passer rating of 125.4. The bright spot of this defense? They held Le’Veon Bell to just 57 yards on the ground on 17 carries. He did get another 77 through the air however and with Barry Church and Morris Claiborne still out for a few more weeks, look for teams to put the ball in the air even more. I will give Leon McFadden some credit, though. On the fake spike play that fooled the entire defense, it was McFadden trying to cover one of the most elite receivers in the NFL in Antonio Brown. Big Ben made a perfect throw and Brown scored, but he showed some hustle, so here’s an atta boy!
Allegiances aside, this was one of the best games, if not the best game in the NFL this season. It had 7 lead changes, 5 big plays over 30 yards and 3 touchdowns scored in the final 2 minutes. It also had a massive teaching moment for my 2 boys (ages 8 and 9), when at the end of the game I was able to show them why going for 2 after every touchdown is a bad idea and horrible strategy. Steelers coach, Mike Tomlin, failed to attempt an extra point and also failed to convert any of the 4 2 point conversions. As such, instead of trailing 35-34 and only needing a Field Goal, they were forced to score a touchdown. Not only that, but it’s anybody’s guess at how those last 2 minutes would have played out had he not tried to go for 2 on every touchdown. My oldest boy, Mason, goes for two in Madden every time and refuses to see the downside. He gets it now. Thanks Mike Tomlin!Views: 0
By Brendon Jessop — 4 years ago
A lot has changed since the last time these two teams met in week 2. One team left 1-1 and the other 0-2 and they have lost a combined 1 game since. The week 2 matchup featured a Cowboys rookie backfield that was just beginning to come into its own and a Kirk Cousins that was the focal point of everyone’s laughter. The interception by Barry Church 6 yards into the end zone spelled disaster in the 4th quarter as the Cowboys drove down the field to score the game’s last touchdown to secure a 4 point lead. Just to put everyone back in the mindset after that game, here is my opening paragraph:
After the Cowboys win in Landover, one thing is for certain: the Redskins have issues. Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards and 1 TD, but should have had 3 more easy ones as Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson both had breakaways well past the Cowboy secondary only to be over thrown. Redskins Running Back, Matt Jones, had a good game as well rushing for 61 yards on only 13 carries. Why Jay Gruden doesn’t run more is beyond me. Not saying Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is perfect, but he did try to be less predictable with an onside kick in the middle of the game, which caught both teams off guard when the ball didn’t travel the 10 yards required. I want to feel good about this win, I do, but watching all the blatant missed opportunities by Washington makes it difficult.
Fast forward 10 weeks and the Redskins appear to have righted the ship. All those missed opportunities aren’t missed anymore as the Redskins rank 3rd in the league in passing yards per game and 9th in scoring. Kirk Cousins has a 98.8 passer rating on the season and only 4 interceptions since week 2. The Cowboys secondary had a hard time containing DeSean Jackson and will be even more hard pressed this week without Barry Church and Morris Claiborne helping cover the talented receiving core of this Washington team. The Skins rushing attack is no slouch either, ranking 10th with 117.1 ypg. This team will score, but to win, they need to score over 24 points per game as their defense is among the bottom feeders of the league allowing 23.3 points per game.
The Redskins aren’t the only ones to have improved since week 2. The Cowboys star running back has gone from averaging 67 ypg to 121 ypg since and Dak Prescott has earned the starting quarterback job over a healthy Tony Romo. The Cowboys put up over 100 yards rushing on the top ranked Ravens rush defense last week and will look to continue that domination this week vs the 22nd ranked Redskins D.
This game will be decided by which high powered offense can beat the weaker defense the worst. The Redskins vaunted pass attack vs the injured Cowboys secondary or the Cowboys vicious running game vs a bottom feeder Redskins front 7? What the Cowboys have going is their strength also keeps their opponents strength off the field. The Cowboys need to run the ball well and punish this Redskins defense by way of numerous 7-8 minute drives in order to prevent their own weakness from being too exposed.
Keys to the Game:
- RUN! Get the Offensive line moving downhill and wear the Redskins defense out. The longer the Cowboys have the ball, the less time Kirk Cousins has to throw to DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder.
- Don’t let DeSean Jackson get behind you. With Morris Claiborne and Barry Church still out, look for the Redskins to attack this Dallas secondary early and often. We saw different Redskins WRs behind the coverage on numerous plays in the week 2 matchup only to have Cousins overthrow them
- For the sake of having a 3rd key: Dominate time of Possession. This needs to be as lopsided as possible. 35:00-25:00 or more.
For more information on The Landry Letters Blog, please visit www.thelandryletters.comViews: 0
By Matt Robinson — 4 years ago
The political theater this election season is certainly not short on entertainment. When she’s not deleting emails, she’s busy covering up other scandals – When he’s not “grabbing [women]”, he’s offending Hispanics. It seems like the election this year will ultimately come down to which candidate we hate less. But for Cowboy fans, we have a more important decision to tackle… (Pun intended).
There has been a lot of controversy over the past two months whether Dak Prescott should start when Tony Romo is healthy again. Dak, a fourth round draft pick, surprised everyone with his success in the preseason. That success has continued into the regular season, after becoming the temporary starter when Romo broke his back on his 3rd play of the preseason. Slowly, but surely, those in Tony’s corner have shrunk to what is now a dwindling few, while Dak’s bandwagon is getting so crowded it looks like a Ringling Brothers’ clown car. Watching the Cowboys’ season to this point, it may sound crazy that there was even controversy. However, do not forget the undying loyalty of Romo-sexuals and the ever present Jerry Jones reminding fans and haters alike after each game that, “Tony is our quarterback”.
A lot has shifted after the Cowboys 5th win in 6 weeks, when Jerry Jones decided to flip flop by saying,”We’ve got to get Romo in a situation so that it is a situational decision. I don’t use the word ‘problem’ in this conversation. This is a great situation….all of it is a great situation. I don’t have a time frame. There is no time frame.” – Huh? So, just to be clear, there are a lot of situations, but no time frames – Thanks a lot Jerry.
Stepping back and looking at the stats somewhat more objectively, it seems very obviously that Dak should not just be an incumbent starter, but rather the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. There have been two other times in Tony Romo’s career that the Cowboys have gone 5-1: 2007 and 2014. Let’s look at Romo’s stats in those years and compare them to what Dak Prescott has done this year.
PASSING STATS 2007 Romo 2014 Romo 2016 Dak Comp-Att 132-210 130-191 125-182 Completion % 63% 68% 69% Yards 1,707 1,510 1,486 Yards per Attempt 8.1 7.9 8.2 Touchdowns 14 11 7 Interceptions 8 5 1 QBR 78***(estimate) 72***(estimate) 82.8 Passer Rating 94.68 100.03 103.87 2007 Romo 2014 Romo 2016 Dak Rushing Attempts 13 11 20 Rushing Yards 77 33 67 Yards per Carry 5.9 3.0 3.4 Rushing Touchdowns 1 0 3 Opponents’ Record 13-22 37% 16-20 44% 13-21 38% Rushing Attack Jones/Barber 651 Murray 785 Zeke 703 Key Receiver TO played 6 games Dez played 6 games Dez played 3 games Defense Average Average Average
Dak actually has a better completion percentage than both of Romo’s 5-1 starts, marginally better than 2014 and significantly better than 2007.
Result: Slight edge, Dak
Dak has less passing yards per game than both of Romo’s years, three yards less than 2014, and thirty-six yards less than 2007. Neither would prove to be a significant difference. However, Dak is getting more bang for his buck on his throws with a slightly higher yards per attempt than both of Romo’s best starts.
PASSING TD’S VS. INTERCEPTIONS
Getting into two of the most important stats for a quarterback, passing touchdowns and interceptions, Tony has more touchdowns, but also more interceptions. A lot can be said for a quarterback being able to score points, but many would say the same about turnovers. Many would say that these two statistics probably cancel each other out, with a fair amount of people on either side of the argument.
Neither one of these quarterbacks rushing stats jump out, but both 2007 Romo and 2016 Dak know how to use their legs when they need to fight for first downs, and even touchdowns.
Result: Slight edge, Dak
Now to get to the extremely complicated QBR rating, and the not so complicated passer rating. The QBR rating is so complicated, only an estimated number can be given based on looking at Romo’s QBRs for each individual game for the first six games of each season. There will be 10 point wiggle room on either side for Tony. Through six games, Tony was probably a few points lower in 2007 and about 10 points lower in 2014. Passer rating calculators are readily available, so those number are exact. Dak’s passer rating is almost 4 points higher than Tony in 2014 and over 9 points higher in 2007. Why is Tony’s passer rating higher and QBR lower in 2014? As stated before, QBR is EXTREMELY complicated and takes into account not only rushing ability of a quarterback, but also arbitrary things like pass rush and quality of receivers.
Looking at their teammates and what they have contributed. All three years had a great rushing attack, 2007 probably being less great than the other two. That is not completely surprising, considering the 2014 and 2016 offensive lines were better (and exactly the same now that Ronald Leary is starting due to La’el Collins’ injury). However, Romo had Terrell Owens or Dez Bryant for all six games, while Dez has been injured for three of the six games this year. All three years had very average defenses, as well.
OPPONENT WINNING PERCENTAGE
Lastly, lets look at the winning percentage of the teams the Cowboys faced in each year. One thing those numbers will not show, is that Romo beat the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and lost to the AFC Champion New England Patriots in the first six games of 2007, and beat the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Dak still does have two wins against winning teams this year (Washington and Green Bay), but neither of those teams look like Super Bowl contenders.
Looking back at these comparisons, Dak and Romo each won a category outright, with Dak also having two slight edge wins. Couple that with Dak being a healthy 23 year old and Romo being an often-injured 36 year old, and the argument starts to become even more clear. In 2007 or 2014, would anyone have suggested that another quarterback, with more credentials in his career, come and start at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys? Absolutely not! Can Tony Romo do things that Dak cannot? Yes, his deep ball is better. Can Dak do things that Romo cannot do? Yes, he has shown an ability to not turn the ball over that Tony has not. The final argument is simple, but does need to be stated: You DO NOT take out a 5-1 quarterback in the NFL under any circumstance, period.
Dak in 2016.Views: 0