While the start of the Dallas Cowboys season could have been potentially disastrous, the team was able to ride it out and produce a solid start to the season with Super Bowl on their minds.
Many Dallas Cowboys fans would like to forget the first game of the season after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-3 and losing Dak Prescott for five games. However, on the back of backup quarterback Cooper Rush and solid defensive performances, the Cowboys were able to get the team to a 4-2 record in Prescott’s absence. Prescott has played the last two weeks leading the team to two blowout wins over Detroit and Chicago to have them at 6-2 heading into their bye week.
Cooper Rush Deserves Praise For Leading Cowboys
One topic discussed during Cooper Rush’s run as starting quarterback was whether he or Prescott should be the starter all season. A big reason for that was how he played. Outside of the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Rush demonstrated that Rush could manage the offense while protecting the ball. He recorded a 4-1 record during his time as the starter.
Fans had concerns with how the offense looked as they produced fewer yards with Rush at quarterback than Prescott. The Cowboys’ offense was staggered and sometimes boring with Rush, but that’s because they were a more balanced attack between the run and pass, which fans have been asking for a long time. As a result, Rush didn’t make big plays, keeping most of his passes short and quick.
Despite all that, he was clutch when he needed to be. He led fourth-quarter scores against the Bengals and Giants to give them the lead and win. It wasn’t a perfect run with him, but there’s no denying that he, for the most part, never put them in a position to lose games. Fans should appreciate what he did and feel better knowing that if another Prescott injury occurs, they are in safe hands with Rush running the offense.
Backups Stepping Up For Dallas Offensively
A lot has been said about Rush’s performance in place of Prescott, but let’s not forget about the other players who had to step up. Tyler Smith came in for the injured Tyron Smith at left tackle and played well. It wasn’t perfect, but it proved efficient in pass-blocking and protecting Rush.
It might be too tricky to call Tony Pollard a backup, but how he has played has made him a key player on offense. Pollard leads the team in rushing yards (506) and touchdowns (five). He’s averaging over six yards a carry which is exceptionally high for a running back with 100 carries on the season. Pollard has undoubtedly proven to need more touches in the running and passing games.
Michael Gallup and James Washington went into the regular season with separate injuries. Their injuries opened the door for Noah Brown to step up in the second receiver role, which has paid off for him. Brown is second on the team in receptions (25) and receiving yards (339) with one touchdown. He became a security blanket for Rush when he was playing as he showed to have reliable hands. Brown should play a vital role in the second half of the season with Prescott in the lineup.
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Defense Leading The Cowboys To Wins
The central storyline this season is the emergence of the defense and how elite they have played. The unit has been ranked in the top ten in most statistical categories outside their rush defense, including total yards allowed per game and sacks. A big part comes from Micah Parsons, who is second in the league in sacks with eight, and Trevon Diggs, who is tied for third in the NFL with three interceptions.
The biggest breakout star on defense has been safety Donovan Wilson who has done it all by leading the team tackles with 59. He’s also produced three sacks, four tackles for loss, two pass deflections, one forced fumble, and one interception. While being overshadowed by players like Parsons and Diggs, Wilson deserves a ton of credit for his play.
Donovan Wilson might be the most underrated player on the Cowboys this season. — RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 30, 2022
Most of the credit has to be given to Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his coaching job. Because of his work, Quinn’s name will be one of the hottest for a head coaching job this offseason. What has made Quinn so good this season is his ability to get the best out of his players. Wilson has been good because Quinn moves him around between safety and linebacker. Parsons is similar to Quinn and can have him rush the passer or drop back into coverage. No matter what happens, Quinn can elevate a player from good to great.
Looking Ahead To The Rest Of The Cowboys Season
Dallas’ first two games out of the bye will be two road games against the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. Those two teams will pose a significant challenge for the Cowboys, as both can run the ball. Even though Green Bay has looked sluggish, they and the Vikings have good offenses that can challenge the Cowboys big-time.
The Cowboys are the only team in the NFC East that has yet to play the AFC South, so that has the potential to be an advantage for Dallas. Outside of the Tennessee Titans, the rest of the teams have not looked good, so it should be at least two or three wins guaranteed for the Cowboys.
If there is one game the team will circle on the calendar, it’s the Eagles game when they come to Arlington for a critical NFC East matchup. It would be hard to believe that the Eagles go into that game undefeated so that it could be the NFC East title game. Even if the division is out of grabs for Dallas, defeating a solid team like Philadelphia could go a long way in building momentum for the playoffs.
Expectations for Dallas are playoffs or bust. The schedule works in their favor, so it should be a smooth ride to the playoffs for the Cowboys. It’s about winning the games they are supposed to and pulling some upsets along the way. The challenge won’t be easy, but Dallas has shown more resiliency than any other Cowboys team in recent memory.