Here’s why I believe all eyes will be on the Dallas Cowboys defense despite having drafted more defensive players than offensive since 2014.
Every NFL team and fanbase has one goal – winning the Super Bowl. For those bottom feeders, they set the bar lower. Success could be finishing the season with a record at or above .500. A large portion of Dallas Cowboys fans seemed satisfied with winning the NFC East title.
Being better than three other teams in the division only gives you a chance to prove you are better than 15 other teams in the conference. Only then do the Cowboys get to prove that they are the best team in the entire league.
Every team has a strategy to reach the summit, we once relied on a vicious air attack. Former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 4,903 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2012 as Dallas finished with an 8–8 record. Running backs Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray shared rushing duties and combined for 1,065 yards and seven touchdowns.
In the 2014 season, Romo finished with 3,705 yards in 15 games with 34 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. DeMarco Murray finished as the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns. The season ended against the Green Bay Packers with a fumbling Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant attempting to score instead of securing the catch and stepping out of bounds.
The 2014 season clearly marked the switch to a different Cowboys offensive strategy that was based on running the football and time of possession. Defenses still remained on their heels because with Romo at the helm, they had to respect both threats – Murray’s legs and Romo’s arm.
Ignoring a disastrous 2015 season, 2016 marked a return to the 2014 formula. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott managed 3,667 yards with only 23 passing touchdowns. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott scorched the league for 1,631 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Against a fourth place schedule, it was good enough to propel the Cowboys to a 13 – 3 record. Unfortunately, the season ended also against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.
Let’s look at the offensive numbers in a chart – because I love charts.
|Points Per Game Rank|
|Points Per Game|
|Avg Time of Possession|
|Time of Possession Rank|
Our rookie duo of Prescott and Elliott had outstanding individual seasons in 2016, but the Cowboys still fell short. In most sports, the key to winning is scoring the most points. Another way to accomplish that goal is stopping the other team from scoring points. The Cowboys have drafted more defensive players (24) than offensive (11) since 2014.
There aren’t any signs to indicate that the Cowboys won’t be a top 10 offensive team. If the offense doesn’t suffer a dramatic decrease in production, all eyes will be on the defense to answer one question. Have the Dallas Cowboys improved the defense enough to win a championship? Hopefully we won’t know until February 18th, 2018 in Minneapolis. Dress warm!