Analysis: Cowboys Don't Need To Look Past Robinson


And the real Cowboys fans, the ones who have been through the good and the bad times, shouldn't need any kind of crazy stats to support this argument.

From 1990 to 2000, the Cowboys rarely, if ever, worried about a snap. For 11 seasons, Dale Hellestrae was about as perfect as you could get. The punters changed from guys like Mike Saxon to John Jett to Toby Gowin, and even more kickers passed through the Valley Ranch doors, guys such as Ken Willis, Lin Elliott, Eddie Murray (twice), Richie Cunningham and Chris Boniol.

But the snapper never changed. It was always Hellestrae, and the snaps were always just about perfect. And he proved snappers could last, playing 15 seasons in the league and not retiring until he was 39.

But all that changed in 2001, when the Cowboys were ready to move on - attempting to get younger and less expensive at the position. Hellestrae was released to save cap room, and the Cowboys were convinced they could find a capable replacement for less.


No, the 2001 season turned into a complete disaster - not just because of the team's 5-11 record - and the deep snapping was downright awful. The Cowboys probably provided NFL Films with an entire show of NFL Follies with that one season.

Between the household names of Randy Chevrier and Mike Solwold, they made just about every snap an adventure. OK, maybe it just seemed that way. In reality, there probably were about five or six bad snaps that either prevented a field-goal attempt or possibly caused a punt to be blocked.

The Cowboys punted 81 times that year, attempted 24 extra points and 33 field goals. But still, five or six botched kicks thanks to bad snaps after Hellestrae's impeccable run the previous decade made it seem like 20.

And remember, it was that 2001 season that made the Cowboys open their wallet again to pay for some experienced deep snapping. They gave Robinson a four-year deal worth $4.8 million in 2002. Unfortunately, the Cowboys had to wait to reap the benefits. Robinson tore his ACL in a training camp practice in San Antonio, forcing the Cowboys to keep searching for snapping help.

They ended up with Jeff Grau, who was an improvement, but still had a few lapses here and there.

But Robinson has been everything the Cowboys thought they were paying for since he returned, and probably even more. Plus, the veteran who also moonlights as a tight end has caught four passes in the last two years, resulting in four touchdowns. Not a bad average, especially for a deep snapper.

So as Robinson enters the final year of his contract, sure, it makes sense for the Cowboys to at least look at other potential snappers so they don't get caught with their snaps down as they did when Hellestrae was sent on his way following the 2000 season.

But if the last 15 years have proved anything, when you find a snapper like Robinson, you do everything possible to keep him around.

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