The Dallas Cowboys ‘Deja Vu’ Offense: 2014 vs. 2021
The Dallas Cowboys‘ offense is on a roll right now. Led by quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, they are averaging over 30 points per game, only four weeks through the season.
Compared to the start head coach Mike McCarthy had last year, it has been a “flip of the script” for America’s Team. What has been their winning recipe on offense is nothing new. A “sucker punch” running game complemented with a deadly passing attack. The start to this season feels reminiscent of the 2014 season.
To start that year, the Cowboys had a tough Week 1 opponent in the San Francisco 49ers. They played in the NFC Championship the year before and represented the NFC in the 2012 Super Bowl. The Cowboys had to go up against the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the start of this season, which seemed to be a difficult task.
Both squads started the season 0-1 but managed to pull off three straight victories. In Week 4 of 2014, Dallas beat the New Orleans Saints convincingly, and Dallas just similarly beat the Carolina Panthers. It wasn’t until both teams’ Week 4 games did the media start to think the Cowboys were for real.
Through four games in 2014, quarterback Tony Romo was 82 of 118 in pass attempts for 936 yards and seven touchdowns. Prescott has been playing lights out so far, completing 100 of 133 passes for 1,066 yards and tossing ten touchdowns. Both are very similar stat lines and right around a 70% completion percentage.
Running back DeMarco Murray began his All-Pro season in 2014 with 534 yards rushing, tacking on five touchdowns. Elliott and running back Tony Pollard have a combined 592 yards on the ground with five touchdowns.
The skill players in ’14, like wide receivers Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams, helped Romo succeed. Not to mention tight end Jason Witten was becoming a better blocker and keeping his reliable “Romo safety blanket” role. The 2021 squad has better weapons at wide receiver headlined by Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Cedrick Wilson. The continued success of tight end Dalton Schultz is refreshing and adds another wrinkle in the offense.
Owner Jerry Jones wanted to keep Romo healthy, so he invested a lot into building the offensive line, just like in the ’90s. His investment quickly turned into gold and became what was considered at the time the best offensive line in football led by linemen Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, and rookie Zack Martin.
The offensive line the Cowboys currently have might not be up to 2014 standards, but the unit still has Martin and Smith as their leaders. They have an excellent combination t of experienced youth with linemen Connor Williams and Terence Steele to round out the position. Altogether, they played sound football and didn’t allow a sack last week against the No.1 ranked Panther’s defense.
There is no denying that the Cowboys are heading down the “deja vu” road, similar to the ’14 season where the offense carried the team. It will be interesting to see how Dallas does against the Kansas City Chiefs, as it will be similar to when Dallas took on the Seahawks in 2014. If Prescott and this offense can pull off a win against the Chiefs, fans should expect Super Bowl or bust for 2021.