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Looking at time through a Dallas Cowboys lens will make you feel very old very fast

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Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

There are a number of weird ways to look at time. Oftentimes I personally think about time through the lens of sports. Consider that 10 years ago at this point the New Orleans Saints had just won the Super Bowl. That doesn’t feel like too long ago, right?

Where it gets weird for me is thinking that at the point when the 2009 Saints won the Super Bowl, 10 years prior to that Kurt Warner’s St. Louis Rams won it all. In 2009 the Rams victory felt like forever ago whereas the Saints win doesn’t feel too far in the rearview mirror. You get the picture.

Consider that Dez Bryant heroically leaped in the air at Lambeau Field just over five years ago. While that feels like the blink of an eye, five years prior to that the Cowboys beat the Eagles in Week 17 and the Wildcard Round to earn Tony Romo’s first playoff win. See? Time will wreck your brain.

Time has moved very fast in the Dak Prescott era

Speaking of Tony Romo, I went through a rabbit hole of time thoughts over the weekend and realized that just about every Cowboys offensive role player has played a lot of time with Dak Prescott as their quarterback. A lot of time.

Naturally I was curious just how much time each role player has spent with Prescott under center as opposed to the aforementioned Tony Romo, and in crunching some numbers realized that most starters have played more with the former than the latter. That’s crazy.

A lot of this has to do with how young the Cowboys roster is, but take a look for yourself. For what it’s worth, the term “role player” can be defined differently by different people, for the purposes of this exercise we’re considering most starters and people that have spent a significant amount of time with the team. We’re also only including players drafted or acquired before 2016 since that’s when Dak Prescott became the starter.

Number of games each player has started with Dak Prescott as quarterback (with Tony Romo):

  • Tyron Smith: 52 (65)
  • Travis Frederick: 48 (34)
  • Zack Martin: 62 (19)
  • La’el Collins: 50 (2)
  • Jason Witten: 48 (127)

Obviously players like Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Williams, Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper have exclusively played with the Dak Prescott-led Dallas Cowboys. But isn’t that jarring to look at? Am I alone here?

The one that really is staggering to me is Zack Martin. He’s been around the Cowboys for so long and to consider just how much football he has played and that the overwhelming majority has been with Dak as his quarterback really puts in perspective how long these last four years have been.

Looking at time through a Dez Bryant lens has a similar effect

In the process of looking all of this up I obviously saw Dez Bryant’s name a lot as he played a great deal with Tony Romo (72 games).

How many games do you think Dez played with Prescott, though? Bryant was hurt for a bit in 2016 which was a factor, but ultimately he played 29 games with Prescott (the future is to be determined).

Consider that Dak Prescott has played more regular season games as the Cowboys quarterback without Dez Bryant (35) than he has with him (29). Isn’t that wild? What is perhaps a little bit more “wild” is to think about a different wide receiver that has played more with Dak than Dez has to date - Michael Gallup.

Come on. That has to have made you feel old.

It’s true, though. Michael Gallup has played more games where he lined up in a Cowboys huddle with Dak Prescott than Dez Bryant has. Gallup has done so 30 times while Dez only has 29 (Gallup did so in two playoff games by the way where Dez only did so in one).

Here are the productions of both players with Dak Prescott as their Cowboys quarterback:

  • Dez Bryant (2016-2017): 228 targets, 119 receptions, 1,634 yards, 14 touchdowns
  • Michael Gallup (2018-present): 181 targets, 99 receptions, 1,614 yards, 8 touchdowns

It should obviously be noted that Dez was Dak’s primary receiver when he lined up for the Cowboys while Gallup dealt with a struggling overall position group at the beginning of his career and has since seen Amari Cooper draw the lion’s share of targets. By the way Cooper has played 25 games with Prescott’s Cowboys so assuming he is back (and that Dez isn’t) he will pass Bryant at some point in 2020 for games played with the team’s quarterback.

Time is a funny thing. It stops for no one and seems to move faster and faster with every passing year. Maybe we’re all just getting old.