The 2022 Dallas Cowboys defense is incredible to watch. In his second year with Dallas, Dan Quinn has elevated his already stellar 2021 group and led them to historically great numbers.
What this team has done — and by that, we mean to go 4-1 with so many injuries, including to the starting quarterback — is phenomenal. Cooper Rush deserves credit. However, even the backup QB admitted that the defense is keeping this team in games, and he’s not wrong.
Quinn’s group is third in the league in points allowed per game (14.4), second in sacks (20), and tied for second in red zone defense.
There are good defenses and there are great defenses. Good defenses do what they can to keep the other team off the field. Great defenses don’t allow opponents to score more than 20 points for five games in a row and allow five or fewer touchdowns in their first five games (including contests against top quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, and Matt Stafford). These are things the Cowboys franchise hasn’t seen defensively since 1972 when the famous “Doomsday Defense” reigned supreme in Dallas.
The Doomsday Defense has had a few iterations, but the first was in the 1960s-1970s. The group consisted of Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor names like Bob Lilly, Cliff Harris, Mel Renfro, Larry Cole, Chuck Howley, and Lee Roy Jordan. These men were the backbone of the franchise and helped lead Dallas to two Super Bowl victories and three more Super Bowl appearances.
Is it fair to compare the 2022 Dallas Cowboys defense to the 1972 Doomsday Defense?
It’s fair to argue that this 2022 group, led by reigning DROY Micah Parsons, All-Pro Trevon Diggs, and Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence has future Hall of Famer and Ring of Honor members, too. The incredible part about this modern-day defense is that everyone is good. The main guys are at an All-Pro level, but names like Dorance Armstrong, Jayron Kearse, Donovan Wilson, and others are also having stellar seasons and providing momentum-changing tackles and plays for this team.
In Week 1, the team allowed 19 points against the Bucs. Then, 17 the following week. Then 16. Then 10 twice. Not only were they great to start, but the 2022 Dallas defense is arguably getting better.
A big part of that is thanks to their fearless leader. Quinn was the coach of another famous defensive group in NFL history: the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom in 2013 and 2014. The Legion of Boom led the league in fewest points allowed, most takeaways, and fewest yards allowed under Quinn’s guidance, and helped Seattle win a Super Bowl in 2013. It was one of the most commanding defenses in recent history. So much so, that Diggs has even admitted he looks at Legion of Boom tape for inspiration.
The best part is that this group believes they are the best, but can still get better. Here’s what Parsons said about his teammates:
"“I think we’ve really got a chance to be the best defensive team in this league. The way we prepare and the way we calculate, the players we have — everyone’s hungry out here, and I think that’s just been the key. … That’s the type of standard, and (we’re) hungry. Every week we’ve got to (keep) getting better. Each step we’ve got to keep getting better.”"
The crazy part about this comparison is that none of these defenders were alive when the Doomsday Defense existed. As one of the oldest on the team, DeMarcus Lawrence (30) was born “way back” in 1992 — twenty years after the Doomsday squad’s best season.
So, does this team compare to the 1972 group? Absolutely. The stats speak for themselves.
But let’s put it the same way Joe Theismann did when he was talking about the comparisons made between Parsons and Lawrence Taylor. One doesn’t have to replace the other. Parsons can be the closest thing this league has seen to Taylor in a long time without replacing Taylor’s legendary mark left on this sport. They can both exist, and so can both defenses.
It took a long time for Dallas to be considered a defensive-focused team again. Quinn’s group may not have a catchy name yet, but they are on their way to making more history and deserve the praise they are getting.
However, there’s one important caveat. The dominance may be similar, but the biggest difference is that the Cowboys haven’t reached a Super Bowl berth in 27 years. Can today’s defense be good enough to get America’s Team back to the Super Bowl?
What do you think, Cowboys fans?