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Cowboys Midsummer Madness, National Semifinal: Bob Lilly vs. Tom Landry

Midsummer Madness has reached the Final Four! Today’s National Semifinal match-up features Pete Rozelle Regional champion Bob Lilly facing off against Tom Landry, the winner of the Roger Goodell Regional. Who will advance to the Midsummer Madness Championship Game?

Our second national semifinal matchup pits two of the Cowboys' founding fathers against one another. The champion of the Pete Rozelle Regional, Bob Lilly, "Mr. Cowboy," the team's first-ever draft pick (and a local boy from TCU), goes up against the man who coached him, Tom Landry, the innovator and face of the franchise for so much of its existence. Once Lilly joined Landry in 1961, the franchise had its coach and cornerstone player; together, the two men experienced the agony-turned-into-ecstasy that defined the Cowboys' first fifteen years.

After contributing to the rapid formation of a competitive team only to be denied just short of the mountaintop, both men broke through in 1971 with a win over the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI - an event whose joy derived as much from seeing these proud men get to taste the ultimate victory they had so long deserved as it did from beating the Dolphins and carrying home a Lombardi. But now we have come to the moment we have all been dreading: choosing between the two of them. Who will advance to the championship game to face Roger Staubach, the quarterback that made the difference in getting Lilly and Landry over the final hurdle? Read the bios and comments, watch the videos, weight the evidence carefully, and then cast your vote, BTBers!

Wanna keep tabs on the state of the bracket or look ahead to future contests? All the Midsummer Madness info you could ever want can be found right here.

Star_medium

Player: Bob Lilly

Position: defensive end, tackle

Seed: 1

How he got here: defeated Mark Tuinei, 683-20; defeated Danny White 710-67; defeated Lee Roy Jordan, 630-24; defeated Larry Allen, 525-222

Essentials:

Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Robert Lewis Lilly
1961-74
148
11
7
yes
yes

Bio: The Cowboys selected Lilly in the first round of the 1961 draft; he was the franchise's first ever draft pick. Lilly began his career as a defensive end in 1961, but moved to defensive tackle midway though the 1963 season, whereupon he immediately began to flourish. As a tackle, Lilly was earned first-team All-NFL laurels six of the next seven seasons. In total, Lilly was named All-Pro seven times (and twice netted Second Team All-Pro honors), and was selected to play in 11 Pro Bowls. Lilly was an ironman, playing in 196 consecutive regular-season games and missing only one game in his entire career, the 1973 NFC Championship Game.

Lilly used a stunning combination of strength, agility, speed and toughness to make plays. From his distinctive four-point stance, he would explode at the snap, knifing between gaps or, alternatively, rag-dolling opposing linemen. These traits allowed him to score four defensive touchdowns and were in evidence in the signature play of his career, Lilly's NFL record 29-yard sack of Dolphin quarterback Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI. Because he was unstoppable one-on-one, Lilly was regularly double and triple teamed for the majority of his career.

Lilly boasts a long list of all-timer honors. He was selected to the NFL All-Decade teams for both the 1960s and 1970s as well as the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time team. The Sporting News named him a member of the All-Century NFL Team, deeming him "the greatest defensive tackle in NFL history," and later ranked him tenth (where he was the the highest-ranking defensive lineman) on their "100 Greatest Football Players" list. Although the Cowboys don't officially retire jerseys, he is the only player in team history to ever have worn #74 in a regular season game. In 1975, his name was the first to be inscribed in the Ring of Honor. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility.

Highlights:

His record 29-yard sack of Bob Griese

A cool interview video at Sports Illustrated

And a commercial:

Member comments:

Member Comment
Ride Together, Die Together

How can you vote against the first Cowboy?

I mean, Mr Cowboy says it all.

Realist Larry

Watching the Lilly video, the way he used his hands, how he threw those men around like dolls, I wonder what he would've been like with modern strength training

and at 6’ 5" he looks so tall next to the other guys of the era.

He was just so naturally strong

Canadian Texan

Star_medium

Player: Tom Landry

Position: head coach

Seed: 1

How he got here: defeated John Fitzgerald, 802-15; defeated Calvin Hill 597-13; defeated Bob Hayes, 565-52; defeated Troy Aikman, 727-174

Essentials:

Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Thomas Wade Landry
1960-88
-NA-
-NA-
-NA-
yes
yes

Bio: In 1960, Landry was hired to be the expansion Cowboys first head coach. The expansion team started inauspiciously, sporting an 0–11–1 record during their first season and five or fewer wins in each year from 1961-64. Despite the team's early struggles, owner Clint Murchison Jr. gave Landry a 10-year extension in 1964 - a move that proved to be inspired. The Cowboys improved to a 7–7 record in 1965 and, in 1966, they surprised the NFL by posting 10 wins and making it all the way to the NFL Championship game, where they fell to the Packers. The 1966 season began a streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons, an NFL record.

Landry proceeded to coach the Cowboys for 29 consecutive years, an NFL record. In that time frame, Landry compiled a 270-178-6 record, the third-most all-time, and led the Cowboys to thirteen division titles, five NFC titles and two Super Bowl wins. From 1966-'82, a span of 17 years, Dallas played in 12 NFL or NFC Championship games; in the 13-year span from 1970 to 1982, Landry's teams played in 10 NFC Championship games. As these number suggest, his 20 career playoff victories are the second most of any coach in NFL history. Landry was named the NFL Coach of the Year in 1966 and the NFC Coach of the Year in 1975.

As impressive as his record is the long list of his innovations. Landry invented the 4-3 defense, along with the use of "keys" for players to react to the flow of a play. To stop the Packers' famed power sweep, he later refined the 4-3 defense by "flexing" two of the four linemen off the line of scrimmage to improve pursuit angles. In Landry's "Flex" defense, each defender was responsible for a given gap area, and was told to stay in that area before he knew where the play was going. On offense, he revived old single-wing concepts like motion, the shotgun, and multiple pre-snap shifts, including the famed "up-and-down" offensive line shift designed  to make it more difficult for defenders to see where the backs were shifting, thus cutting down on recognition time.

He also was the first coach to develop a strength and conditioning program and to introduce the notion of "quality control"; watching extensive film to chart opponent's tendencies so that the Cowboys could be better prepared. Working closely with Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt, Landry helped to revolutionize scouting, both in terms of how players were evaluated and graded and where they looked for talent. The Cowboys were one of the first teams to draft players from small schools and HBCUs and to target athletes from other sports. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1990 and inducted into the Ring of Honor in 1993.

Highlights:

And this segment from "A Football Life" on Landry's mythic status is required watching.

And a commercial:

Member comments:

Member Comment
scotscowboyfan

Landry was a genius and the greatest coach we will ever have.

The man in the hat wins this.

Landry's Fedora

The Fedora

Coach Landry is like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all in one person; that is how much he means to the Cowboys. He IS the Cowboys as far as I’m concerned. Without him, there is no "Cowboys Nation." There is nowhere near the storied history we enjoy today. To build a team from basically nothing, to draft as well as he did with Tex and Gil, to be a verifiable football genius, a wizard, an Einstein from the sidelines, I am sorry, that is not hyperbole. This man built this team into what it has become. To vote against Coach would be like me being the second coming of Benedict Arnold. He is the all-time coach. He is the innovator. He is the Star. He is a Texan. He is the Legend. He is "The Man in the Hat." I will never vote against him.

RKO

There are only 4 coaches in history with more Super Bowl wins....and he hasn't coached in like what 27 years?

Alright, BTBers, which man advances to the championship game?

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