5 best aspects of the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Jaylon Smith #54 and the Dallas Cowboys defense celebrate a fumble recovery against the Jacksonville Jaguars at AT&T Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Jaylon Smith #54 and the Dallas Cowboys defense celebrate a fumble recovery against the Jacksonville Jaguars at AT&T Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Even though the year did not end hoisting a sixth Lombardi trophy, there were many positive aspects of the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season. Here are my top five.

It is the rare NFL season where a team does not have ups and downs. Whether your team is playing in the Super Bowl or drafting first in the upcoming draft, there are always positives and negatives throughout sixteen games.

For the Dallas Cowboys, winning ten games as well as a playoff game would have to register as mostly positive. Of course, the organization and its loyal fan base want more, given the franchise’s pecking order in the history of the league.

Still, the season was pretty successful, especially when considering some of the obstacles they had to overcome.

In that light, I’ve come up with five parts of the 2018 season that I would consider the best aspects of the year for the Dallas Cowboys.

The presence and emergence of Kris Richard

I don’t think it would be possible to overstate the importance Kris Richard had on the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. Hired to be the defensive backs coach, his electric personality was on display from the very first practice.

It took about three or four games before he essentially was promoted in season to the de facto defensive coordinator. Sure, Rod Marinelli held the title, but even Rod could see Richard deserved more influence than just coaching one particular group of men.

The results speak for themselves.

Dallas finished sixth in points allowed, seventh in total yards allowed, 13th against the pass and fifth against the run. Three players, lineman DeMarcus Lawrence, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and cornerback Byron Jones made the Pro Bowl.

Vander Esch is in the running for defensive Rookie of the Year, while several other young players all saw substantial growth in their games under his tutelage.

The Zeke effect on the passing game

It’s been one of the more frustrating aspects of the offense over the past two years but finally, running back Ezekiel Elliott was able to expand his effect on the offense in 2018.

Not only did Elliott win his second rushing title in three years, he became a huge weapon as a receiver as well.

Elliott posted 77 catches for 567 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver. The receptions and touchdowns were more than the previous two seasons combined.

This expansion in his game should continue as the Dallas Cowboys will have a new play caller in 2019 which was part of the reason it took three years to utilize this aspect of his game.


For seven games of the 2018, the Dallas Cowboys mistakenly thought they could be a successful team without a true number one receiver.

Realizing the error in their belief, management made a mid-season deal to acquire Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders. From that point on, the offense looked completely different.

Cooper, who will enter next year at age 25, had some huge games for Dallas and provided the Cowboys a much needed threat on the outside. In nine games, he posted 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns.

With an entire offseason to work on his timing with quarterback Dak Prescott, it would be a shock if he didn’t surpass 1,000 yards and 10 TD’s next season.

A devastating duo

We already touched upon the improvement in the Dallas Cowboys defense in 2018 but specifically, one area is quite exciting.

From quite some time, this team has lived and died by the presence of linebacker Sean Lee. In 2018, that finally came to an end, thanks to linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

Smith and Vander Esch play so well together and really compliment each other. Both are extremely fast and cover a ton of ground. Smith is a devastating hitter and has a great knack for timing blitzes. Vander Esch is equally adept against the run and in coverage.

The two combined for 261 tackles, eight of those for losses, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

An unsung hero of sorts

Midway through training camp, the Dallas Cowboys and center Travis Frederick were dealt some terrible news. Frederick was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre syndrome and was unable to play at all in 2018. Both his immediate and long-term future were in doubt as the devastating immune disorder has no real timeline.

Thankfully it appears that Frederick will be able to play next year. In his stead, however, center Joe Looney had a quietly great year.

At no time was the play at the center position considered to be a negative. While it’s hard to replace all the things that Frederick brings to the position, Looney played exceptionally well.

His performance, in fact, gives the Cowboys some interesting options for the five starting spots along the line in 2019.

Next. Dallas Cowboys 2019 NFL Draft: A Pre-Combine Mock. dark

There you have it, one man’s five best aspects of the 2018 Dallas Cowboys season. Feel free to leave your comments below or come up with a few of your own.