After a very disappointing 2020 season, the Dallas Cowboys entered 2021 with many questions surrounding the foundation of the team. Like the actual game of football has three phases of competition, NFL front offices must win in the three phases of the offseason to have a chance of being successful during the season. Thus far, the Cowboys have done a really good job in all three phases. This offseason, the Cowboys made great decisions with their coaching hires, had successful early-round draft picks, and made the right financial commitments.
Everyone knows that the most important position on the football field is the quarterback. After a long contractual negotiation, the Cowboys were finally able to make their biggest signing of the offseason by keeping Dak Prescott under contract for the next four years. With Prescott coming off a season-ending ankle injury, this move was rumored to be a questionable one. All I have to say is no one is questioning it anymore.
Starting in Week 1 facing the defending Super Bowl champions, Prescott put on an all-time great performance, throwing for 403 yards and three touchdowns. This performance put Prescott in not only the NFL Comeback Player of the Year discussion but in discussions for NFL MVP. It appears the Cowboys have found their franchise quarterback and they made the right decision to sign Prescott to a long-term contract. Because he is playing at an elite level, Prescott now must be mentioned with the same names as Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson.
The next key acquisition for the Cowboys came via the coaching staff.
In 2020, the Cowboys were historically bad, giving up 473 points that season, a franchise record. When you have a defense that bad, you not only have a talent problem but you have a culture problem. This problem was confirmed when starting Cowboys safety Xavier Woods was quoted as saying, “I mean, you don't expect, we're in the NFL, you don't expect guys full speed for 70 plays. That's not possible.” Lack of talent is one thing, but an admitted lack of effort is unacceptable no matter if it’s high school, college, or professional football, and changes need to be made.
In the offseason, the Cowboys made a coaching change at defensive coordinator, bringing in former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. Prior to being the head coach of the Falcons, Quinn was known as the mastermind behind the vaunted Legion of Doom Seattle Seahawks defense for the 2013-14 seasons. So far, this hire for the Cowboys has been a huge success.
Through four games, the Cowboys’ defense ranks first in the NFL in turnovers, and under the guidance of secondary coach Al Harris, the defensive backs are making game-changing plays. It’s been a long time since anyone associated a Cowboys team with having a good defense, but after three games, it seems like that is quickly coming to an end.
Success on early draft picks is a foundational piece for any winning NFL organization. Over the past few years, the Cowboys have come under much-deserved scrutiny over their first-round draft selections with picks such as Morris Claiborne, Taco Charlton, and Leighton Vander Esch. But lately, the Cowboys have hit home runs with their picks like CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons.
The Cowboys have started this season off 2-1 with upcoming games against the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, and New England Patriots on tap—all games in which the Cowboys should be favorites. With this favorable schedule at the start of the season combined with Dallas playing in the worst division in the NFL (NFC East), the Cowboys seem to be in prime position to make a playoff run.
Cowboys fans, I can’t say for certain that this is a Super Bowl team. But for now, I will say “How Bout Them Cowboys?”