The Dallas Cowboys have plenty reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving. They’re the number one team in the NFL. They have two dynamic rookies playing in their starting lineup. They’ve lost one game, by one point, to start the season. That’s an eight-game winning streak where they haven’t slowed down. Going into next Thursday’s holiday, here’s how Dallas has got it done.
Maybe the Cowboys knew something fans didn’t know when they moved on from Demarco Murray. Once the league’s leading rusher, Murray was moved after the 2014 season to the Philadelphia Eagles and lasted one season. After struggling to run the football last season, the football gods brought 4th overall pick Ezekiel Elliot to Dallas.
While his success started with a fizzle, it quickly turned into a bang. He’s the league’s leading rusher and the explosive star the Cowboys had hoped for. Rarely does a rookie come out and play to his success. While the rest of the NFL seemed to be shying away from running backs, Dallas went all in on theirs.
With his success in college at Ohio State, the Cowboys felt he had the best success to transition to the pro game, and he didn’t let them down. If his rookie season is any indication his career trajectory, he’s a future Hall of Fame player.
Not even two-third of the way through his rookie season and Prescott is the standout quarterback of this year’s draft class. He’s not dominating the stat sheet, but fans don’t care. His stats are slightly above average but as long as the team is winning no one will notice. Even if he continues the pace he’s at now there’s still tremendous upside.
With co-breakout star Ezekiel Elliot pushing him for rookie of the year, the Cowboys don’t have to rely on stats. If the passing game isn’t there, there’s always the option to run. Stepping up on one of the biggest stages, to fill some pretty big shoes, on one of the most historic franchises is no easy task. Prescott has taken it in stride as if it were just another day in the office. Franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by. Cowboys fans should feel fortunate.
Injured Tony Romo
Romo going down with an injury was a blessing and a curse. The Cowboys had to put Dak Prescott on the fast track to stardom and hope he didn’t buckle under the pressure. If not for Romo’s injury, the Cowboys might not know what they had in Prescott for a few more seasons.
Now that Romo is back healthy, and the Cowboys are playing like future champs, Dallas has some flexibility. They can either keep Tony past this season and let him be the game’s best backup, or they give them leverage come next year’s NFL Draft via trade. Not only did his injury influence the quarterback position, but it also trickled down to the running back as well. Dallas has the knack for getting pass happy throughout the season.
Rolling out with a rookie quarterback forced them to shift their gameplay to a ground attack and taking the pressure off Prescott. Knowing what Dallas does about their offensive line, they’d much rather have the pressure on a rookie runner than their quarterback. Romo’s injury was a domino effect that set in motion one of the best rookie tandems so far.
One Solid O-Line
If not for one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, fans might not be happy with the current Cowboys team. Having young talent is one thing, but without a solid offensive line in front of them, many young players crack under pressure. If you were to count the number of quarterback busts each year, there’d be a betting man’s chance that they were stuck behind a bad offensive line more times than not.
Same thing with running backs. The speed of the game doesn’t slow down because you have a good offensive line, but the more time you have to learn how to react the better. It should be seen as no coincidence the team with the best record in football has the best offensive line as well.
Fans curse Jerry Jones’ name when things go wrong, but he’ll never get the credit when they win, which he’s probably okay with. When you’re the owner of one of the most recognizable franchises in sports history, fortune outweighs the fame. Forbes has the Dallas Cowboys worth 4 billion dollars.
While the Cowboys have often been the premiere franchise, Jones has taken them one step further building a brand that can do no wrong. He’s essentially the Steve Jobs of the NFL. Since Troy Aikman retired, the Dallas Cowboys have just as many winning seasons as they have lost or broke even. 50% of the time they weren’t a winning team. However, they’ve continued to be one of the biggest names with an ever growing bandwagon.
As much as people criticize Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett isn’t far behind. Jason Garrett isn’t the next Vince Lombardi, but he’s held the Cowboys to be relevant for a few years. Not only have the Cowboys started the season 8-1, but they also seem well on their way to their second division title in 3 years.
Garrett is often called out by fans for some of the boneheaded calls he’s made. He was even dubbed “Mr. .500” for his back-to-back-to-back 8-8 seasons. He was the scapegoat for blunders, but now he’s got the makings of a dynasty. He might not be a future Hall of Fame coach, but he’s got the Cowboys playing like he’s one.
Actual Tony Romo
Tony Romo never quite got the respect he deserves. He is one hell of a quarterback and if he didn’t play on the stage he does he wouldn’t get as much hate. Even though he lost the ones when it counted, Tony Romo won more than he’d ever lost. Remember Quincy Carter? Okay, enough said. He gave the Cowboys everything he had with very little help on the defensive side of the ball. However, that’s not why fans should be thankful.
Romo put the team first, stepping back when healthy to put the team first in a winning season. On a team that once employed divas like Terrell Owens and Dez Bryant, it’s the ultimate sign of professionalism. He accepted his role as a backup in what seemed as his farewell address. It’s hard to believe he’s faced as much criticism as he has.
All too often, Cowboys fans are reminded if you’re not for the Dallas Cowboys, you’re against them. More often than not the team is facing some sort of criticism. Franchises with the history of winning will always have their haters and appreciators. If the Cowboys can continue this season the way that they have, each group will grow slightly bigger.