Looking back at what the history of the NFL shows us, the Dallas Cowboys have the two biggest pieces to put together a long run of success.
In a thirty-two team league set up for parody, few franchises have set themselves apart from the rest. If you happen to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, it’s time to be happy. The reason is because your team is setting themselves up to enter that class.
Looking at each team in the National Football League, only four franchises have had five straight seasons with winning records.
Like it or not, the New England Patriots are the envy of the league. Their numbers are awe-inspiring in any era but especially in today’s NFL. New England has put together 16 straight winning seasons since 2001. They have only missed the playoffs twice in that time frame, going 5-2 in the Super Bowl.
Unquestionably, the Patriots are the standard.
The next closest team is only half way to the Patriots level of excellence. Green Bay has put together eight straight winning seasons. Since 2009, the Packers have won five division titles, averaged almost 11 wins per season and won Super Bowl XLV.
The other two teams, Denver and Seattle, just put together their fifth straight winning season in 2016.
The Broncos have dominated the AFC West, winning 12 games on average since 2012 with differing philosophies. From 2012-14, Denver was putting pressure on their opponents with a lethal offense led by Peyton Manning. In 2015, the Broncos constructed the league’s most feared defense en route to a Super Bowl title.
Seattle, meanwhile has leaned largely on their defense since 2012. The Seahawks have had a top five defense in five straight years leading to a Super Bowl win in 2013.
So, how do the Dallas Cowboys enter this elite club and have the same type of sustainable success?
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The good news is that they already have the two biggest pieces to the puzzle. A strong head coach and a young, talented quarterback.
New England’s run of domination started when an injury at the quarterback position propelled Tom Brady into a household name.
Head coach Bill Belichick had just one winning season in six years before he and Brady combined forces. Brady, a sixth round selection the year prior, was just an afterthought when incumbent Drew Bledsoe got knocked out for the year in game two of the 2001 season. The rest, as they say, is history.
Up in Green Bay, head coach Mike McCarthy’s first two seasons without quarterback Aaron Rodgers had mixed results. One year with eight wins was improved upon with a 13-win season before Rodgers took over.
A slight step back in Rodgers first season as a starter launched the current eight year run of success they are in the midst of now.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, head coach Pete Carroll’s first two years resulted in back-to-back 7-9 disappointing endings. Along came a third round steal in quarterback Russell Wilson and all of a sudden, the Seahawks run began.
Only Denver has managed to maintain success without this formula. Even their prosperity is in question, however, as four straight double-digit winning seasons became just nine last year.
For the Cowboys, the groundwork has taken a little longer as head coach Jason Garrett has had to rebuild on the fly. Taking over an aging team in 2010 that missed it’s window, Garrett presided over three straight eight win teams. A 12-win campaign in 2014 lost ground the next season due to injuries to quarterback Tony Romo.
Last season, rookie fourth-round selection Dak Prescott took the reigns and put Dallas back in the mix winning 13 games in his first year.
The question now becomes this. Can the Dallas Cowboys duplicate their run from the early 1990’s?
Well, they have their own triplets in place with Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Dez Bryant. They have a coach everyone believes in. They have the best offensive line in football as well. All that may be missing is a few tweaks to their defense.
One thing is evident though, these Cowboys are following a path that has worked for the other teams that have accomplished the task.
The Garrett/Prescott duo could be every bit the equal of Carroll/Wilson, McCarthy/Rodgers or even Belichick/Brady. Only time will tell but if one year is any indication, the Cowboys are setting up for a long, successful run.