Have the Cowboys surpassed the hype?
Everyone has seen certain teams grab the headlines and narratives each week in the NFL
season. However, no team seems to do this more than the Dallas Cowboys. From national TV shows to local radio stations, the Cowboys always seem to move the meter. So far, this talk has become as cheap as low hanging fruit which begs one to consider the different agendas of talking heads and how they qualify their statements.
Here at Muellerfootball.com, there are many factors and actions we take before picking a
lane on any certain situation. Along with grabbing facts and reaching out to contacts, we watch an extensive amount of film and video before coming to our conclusions. Said another way, we try our absolute best to deliver an agenda and bias free analysis. Personally, I have no horse in the race nor am I a fan of any particular team.
That being said, we have all witnessed the process in Dallas play out for eight weeks.
And here is my position: THE DALLAS COWBOYS ARE FOR REAL. And I am about to tell
First, let’s start with a few quick points that seem obvious, but don’t play a role in what I
think about the Cowboys:
1. I do NOT think that the reason the Cowboys are for real is because they play in a very
weak division. Yes, the Giants are struggling to shift into a gear above second. Yes, the
Eagles are in a true REBUILD (no matter what they say). And yes, the WFT has both a
misjudged defensive scheme and a QB room which makes me shake my head week after
week. It is a division of mediocrity. While it is undeniable that this helps the Cowboys, the
reason I think they are the cream of the crop is for reasons that go beyond this obvious one.
2. Second, my stance on the Cowboys does NOT come from the fact that they play to a
gigantic audience that hails them as America’s team. Often, their platform allows their
strength in numbers to drown out any narrative that contains common sense or reasonable
expectations. In turn, this tends to produce the “if you can’t beat them, just join them”
3. Finally, I do NOT think the Cowboys success is because of Owner/GM Jerry Jones and
how he has elevated his game to the next level of salesmanship and marketing. I’ll even
admit that he has surpassed my all-time favorite Mr. Haney from TV fame Green Acres. To
put it simply, Jerry is the best at what he does when it comes to furthering the brand. But
other than writing the checks, he has very little to do with the on-field product.
If all of these reasons do not play a factor in my position on the Cowboys, then why do I
think they are for real? It is the quality of their evaluating and team building. This team is built on rock, not sand. Personnel Director Will McClay and his staff have done an unbelievable job of assembling a roster with input from everyone, including his coaching staff. The results have given the Cowboys, in my opinion, the largest margin of error of any team to navigate the second half of the first 17 game regular season. It’s called DEPTH and the Cowboys have it.
For example, Dallas has eight offensive linemen that can all play in the NFL. If there is
any criticism to be had, it’s that they may not be playing the best five. Conner McGovern, a
third-round pick in 2019, backs up starter Conner Williams at OG. McGovern might just be
better than Williams. He even might be better than starting center Tyler Biadasz. He is stronger and gets more push without a doubt. Even more, OT La’el Collins has more range and physicality at the point of attack than current starter Terrence Steele or fill in, Ty Nsekhe. But that is not the point. Having eight guys up front that can all play to NFL standards is both special and rare, especially in this day of limited salary cap room.
Along with perhaps the deepest offensive line in football, the Cowboys have two starting
running backs, two excellent tight ends, and, once Michael Gallup returns from IR, four really productive wide receivers who possess diverse skill sets that both spread the field vertically and horizontally and have the ability to separate versus tight coverage. I put the depth of these skill position players up against any team in the entire league.
This offensive unit alone will likely net OC Kellen Moore an NFL Head Coaching job at
season’s end. That being said, and taking nothing away from Moore, hiring teams do need to
consider the firepower which Moore has had to work with in Big D. Putting together an offense of this quality will be hard to duplicate, wherever he ends up.
With all of this talk about the offense, it is the other side of the ball that has truly come
together and produced where most everyone had their doubts. Led by medicine man DC Dan
Quinn, the Cowboys defense has excelled under Quinn’s employment of a flexible scheme that fits the hand he was dealt. They have generated a consistent pass rush that has allowed them to do just about whatever Quinn wants to do in the secondary. It’s a license to cover for any flaws or screw-ups. This group has been built through the draft and off the street. None have been bigger factors than first round pick LB/DE Micah Parsons (1/2021) and pass rush specialist Randy Gregory (2/2015). Furthermore, don’t sleep on the year that LB Leighton
Vander Esch (1/2018) is having after basically being kicked to the curb and having his 5 th year option declined. Needless to say, he has been completely rejuvenated in Dan Quinn’s scheme. I can’t say it enough: it is the depth of this team that has me so excited. Along with backups that possess solid skill sets, they have been able to succeed due to Quinn’s fairly simplistic schemes that allow the defense to play fast and without hesitation. Playing fast tends to be an overused term in the business but in this case – IT FITS.
There has been so much discussion on the Cowboys, and we haven’t even mentioned the
cherry on top: Dak Prescott is the best player in the division hands down. I started writing this column on Sunday morning and my intent was to say: “If only they had a backup QB…” Well, enter Cooper Rush and by Sunday night, any doubts one had about the depth of the roster ending at the QB position might have just been completely alleviated. Rush put on a show for the ages of backup QB lore. Along with his solid numbers, what sold me on him is something that can’t be measured by analytics or stats. Rush’s poise in key moments and his presence in the pocket was outstanding. I always say, “the pocket is not for everyone” and that’s why these pocket passers make $40M a year. But Rush proved that he is comfortable in the pocket, he is not bothered by the noise, AND he has the accuracy and arm to make all the NFL throws. My procrastination in finishing this column proved to be a blessing. It is true. The Cowboys have depth at the QB position as well.
So why do I think the Dallas Cowboys are for real? They have more options than any
other roster in the NFL. This gives Dallas the best chance of navigating the bumps and injury
hurdles that are inevitable for every team. As I have mentioned in previous articles, it is not a matter of IF but WHEN an NFL team must deal with injuries. Because of the job that VP of
Player Personnel Will McClay and his staff have done, Cowboy fans just might have something to be proud of. Dallas is a team built the right way. If I was a team in the NFL looking for an architect as a GM this next offseason, I’d look no further than the Star in Dallas (pun intended).