To the horror of fans around the country, the Dallas Cowboys are 6-1.
Dallas has been nicknamed “America’s Team” and it is true that they are popular, they are equally despised by fans from other teams, fans who throw up in their mouths every time the nickname is uttered. But much to the chagrin of those fans, Dallas has stormed out of the gates and is now the front-runner in the NFC, moving to 6-1 after a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Philadelphia on Sunday night.
For nearly the last two decades, Cowboy haters have taken solace in fact that Dallas has been largely a laughingstock. They haven’t always been bad, necessarily, but even when they had winning seasons they were still prone to soul-crushing losses and they never really came across as a threat to win the big one.
The Cowboys being a punchline made the NFL more fun. It was humorous to make fun of Jerry Jones and his wacky personnel moves as well as his employment of a personal eyeglass cleaner. We all laughed at every terrible Tony Romo interception or late game collapse. Try as they might, the Cowboys couldn’t get out of their own way, and for generations of fans who grew up despising Dallas (mostly because they were very good for a long time) it was always something to look forward to.
But things are different now; this isn’t the typical Dallas Cowboys of the last generation. This team actually wins close games; the old Cowboys definitely would have lost that game against Philadelphia. But under Dak Prescott, Dallas rallied back to earn their sixth straight victory.
As much as we all want to make fun of Jerry Jones – and he has made so many mistakes over the years that he has earned that reputation – take a look at what he has assembled this season. We know about the dominant offensive line that has paved the way for the NFL’s top rushing attack over the last few years, but Dallas is strong in other facets as well. They nailed the 2016 draft, taking Ezekiel Elliot with the fourth overall pick and he has been as advertised.
Prescott was taken in the fourth round and looks like the best QB taken in the draft, which is a total steal for Dallas. The athletic and composed Prescott looks cool and confident in the NFL, taking care of the football and using his mobility to make big plays.
But it isn’t just Prescott and the offense, the defense has been just as reliable. Despite lacking a lot of big-name talent, Dallas ranks 7th in points allowed and has played really well against solid offenses like Cincinnati and Green Bay. The defense has made some really big plays, forcing 10 turnovers on the season so far and has yet to surrender more than 23 points to an opponent. What is even more impressive is that the defense is contributing despite missing numerous pieces. Second round draft pick Jaylon Smith is out for the season with a torn ACL, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain are both suspended for the first ten games of the season and starting cornerback Morris Claiborne has been banged up with a groin injury. Dallas has also been boosted by special teams play, especially kicker Dan Bailey who in a season that has seen steady kickers like Stephen Gostkowski and Sebastian Janikowski falter, has been really strong for Dallas.
Outside of Cowboy fans, nobody wants Dallas to be good. They have been just so damn entertaining as a faltering franchise that always comes up short; who wants to see them actually succeed? Not to mention the disproportionate amount of media attention they get, which will only increase now that they are actually good, something that leads to fans’ distaste for the franchise rapidly increasing. The Cowboys are supposed to implode, dammit!
Of course, Dallas experienced a similar rise ten years ago when a similar, athletic quarterback stepped into the starting role and led the team to the playoffs.
We all know how that ended…