What the numbers tell us: Observations and questions
Totaling this all up, the Cowboys have five Pro Bowl Players on offense, eight on defense, and two on special teams. That’s 15 current players who have been Pro Bowlers at least once in their career.
All-Pro, being a more elite designation, yields smaller numbers. America’s Team has three All-Pro offensive players and six All-Pro defenders, with none from special teams. That’s nine Cowboys who’ve been All-Pros at one time or another.
Perhaps like many of you, I was initially surprised that Dallas has more defensive than offensive players with honors. This was one of the best offenses in the league in 2019, and while the defense was better than average, it wasn’t elite.
But the answer to this puzzle comes easily. Most of those Pro Bowl defenders are older and haven’t been to that celebratory event in at least two years. Jaylon Smith is the only Cowboy defender who received an invitation 2019. Besides, Poe, McCoy, and Clinton-Dix were all on different teams last year.
Meanwhile, every single offensive Cowboy Pro Bowler went to the game last year except Dak Prescott. And he went the year before, in 2018. Obviously, the offense has more players in their prime than the defense.
But this information makes one wonder: How does this match up with the rest of the league? Answer: Pretty well. In 2019, the Baltimore Ravens had 12 Pro Bowl players, more than any other team in the NFL, according to the NFL.
But after the Ravens, the drop off is steep. The New Orleans Saints had seven Pro Bowlers, and the Kansas City Chiefs had six.
So, the Cowboys, with six players in the honorary game last year, were near the top of the league, in terms of star-caliber talent. (Note – recently retired center Travis Frederick was also a Pro Bowler last year.)
Initially, America’s Team only had four players chosen, but two more (Cooper and Smith) were added prior to the game to sub for other stars who couldn’t appear. Whatever the reason, I’m sure Cooper and Smith weren’t complaining.
These numbers are also interesting because the Ravens, while fielding the most Pro Bowl players, didn’t go to the Super Bowl. They lost in their first playoff appearance, in the divisional round to the Tennessee Titans.
And while the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs were one of the league leaders in the honor game, the New England Patriots, the other team playing in the championship, only fielded three Pro Bowl players.
So, while it’s helpful to have some of the best players in the league, it’s obviously not everything. If it were, the Ravens would have taken the Lombardy Trophy, and the Patriots wouldn’t even have been in the championship game.