If it starts in the trenches, this is a pretty good foundation. | Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images
The talent on the Cowboys roster is the best it’s been in a long, long time.
We are not used to this. The Dallas Cowboys are 4-1 and already starting to pull away from the rest of the NFC East. They have an offensive mastermind in Kellen Moore and a badly needed upgrade at defensive coordinator in Dan Quinn. Even Mike McCarthy is getting some grudging respect for the job he is doing. But if you were to really think about who is the most important member of the entire staff, you need to consider that behind the scenes genius, director of scouting and all around personnel guru, Will McClay. Because this year’s edition of the Cowboys may be the most talented roster, top to bottom, that we have seen since at least the height of the Jimmy Johnson glory years.
Johnson was one who subscribed to the theory that success on the field was “about Jimmys and Joes, not Xs and Os.” In more precise terms, it doesn’t come from scheme or play-calling, but lining up players that are just better across the board than the other team. We saw that play out with some emphasis as Dallas steamrolled the depleted New York Giants with a 24-point win last Sunday. They also eked out a narrow win over a very good Los Angeles Chargers squad as well as going toe-to-toe with the very impressive Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster. Many of the individual players are being recognized for their superlative play. Just a partial list includes:
Trevon Diggs, with his six interceptions in five games, is the early leader for DPOY honors.
Dak Prescott is tied for the third most TD passes with 13 (vs only three interceptions) and is seventh in yards per pass completed.
Ezekiel Elliott is third in total yards rushing, tied for second in touchdowns, and ninth in yards per carry.
His running partner, Tony Pollard, is tenth in rushing and the number one player in yards per carry among those with at least 40 carries.
Randy Gregory had the most QB pressures league wide last week.
Micah Parsons is solidly in the mix for DROY.
PFF has Dalton Schultz as the highest graded TE in the league.
It should also be mentioned that Greg Zuerlein was perfect on Sunday, and a lot of kickers were far from that this past week.
And now there are a couple more Cowboys showing up among the elite at their jobs.
The highest-graded offensive linemen this season pic.twitter.com/hgpNVd3Bw2
— PFF (@PFF) October 12, 2021
Meanwhile, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are still excellent receivers who simply have not had to shoulder much of the load because everything else is working so well.
Even the few supposed problems on the team are not exactly letting the team down. Tyler Biadasz still has too many poor snaps, but the interior of the offensive line went a second consecutive game without allowing a pressure, and Anthony Brown is second on the team in interceptions and got the exclamation point pick-six against the Giants. The middle players on the roster like Jayron Kearse and Terence Steele are more than just solid so far. Even depth players like Cedrick Wilson, with his running first down, passing first down, and receiving first down against New York, are making strong contributions.
With that kind of talent, you should expect Dallas to be doing well. As they start to dominate some lesser teams, they are doing very well so far.
We discussed this idea as a whole on the latest BTB Roundtable where we also checked in on the latest Dallas Cowboys storylines. You can listen right here and make sure to also subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network so you don’t miss any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here. We also stream these roundtables every Tuesday at 6pm ET on our YouTube Channel!
And the best may be yet to come. Kelvin Joseph is dropping hints on social media that his debut is near. DeMarcus Lawrence, La’el Collins, Michael Gallup, Neville Gallimore, and Donovan Wilson should all be back on the field shortly after the Week 7 bye.
This team is simply loaded. That is why McClay has been so crucial to this year’s success as the chief architect of the roster. But that takes nothing away from the job the coaching staff is doing. For years, we saw teams in Dallas that on paper were among the best in the NFL, but that wound up woefully underperforming. This year, the staff is getting the most out of these players. It is not just Moore and Quinn, either. All the assistants are getting great output from their respective players.
It is invaluable to have so many players who are performing in the top strata of the league. And the way the early season injuries and the schedule are playing out have made that even more pronounced. This is a unique situation. It is still early. But this is really starting to look like a team that is capable of a lot more than walking away with the crown in a weak division.