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Maybe the Dallas Cowboys are finally for real

Maybe the Dallas Cowboys 2023 highlight film should be titled, “The Monster That Ate New York.”

Actually, that may only be appropriate if Dallas goes on to have a rather mediocre campaign after opening up against the Big Apple’s two NFL representatives and slicing and dicing them by a combined score of 70-10.

The Cowboys opened the regular season by trouncing the Giants, 40-0, at MetLife Stadium. Dallas followed that drubbing by hosting the New York-area team from the AFC in Week 2, the Aaron Rodgers-less Jets, and winning 30-10.

Are the Cowboys, America’s Team and the most popular franchise in the NFL, for real this time?

It seems as if the Cowboys have been destined for Super Bowl success for quite a while, but they haven’t even made it as far as the NFC Championship Game since Dak Prescott became their starting quarterback after taking over for an injured Tony Romo in 2016.

Prescott was a rookie fourth-round pick in 2016, and he stepped into a rather advantageous situation, especially on offense where Dallas boasted some of the most talented skill-position players in the league, as well as arguably the best offensive line.

Zack Martin, a guard who had already been voted First-Team All-Pro twice by 2016, is still around after receiving that honor for a sixth time a year ago.

Dez Bryant has long since been replaced by CeeDee Lamb as the Cowboys’ best receiver, while Tony Pollard is now the top guy at running back following the release of Ezekiel Elliott in March.

That 2016 Cowboys team won 13 regular-season games but lost to Green Bay in the divisional round.

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for Dallas over the past six seasons. The Cowboys have made the postseason multiple times and have also failed to do so multiple times.

Nothing unusual about that in a parity-driven league like the NFL.

But it’s extremely unusual for a team like the Cowboys, with a rich history that includes eight Super Bowl appearances and five Lombardi Trophies, to be going on three decades without so much as an appearance in a conference title game.

The last time Dallas made it that far was the 1995/1996 season when it won the whole thing after defeating the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.

Picture the Lakers going almost 30 years without an appearance in the Western Conference Finals or the Yankees going that long without playing in the ALCS.

It seems unfathomable, but here we are with the Cowboys.

Many have said that owner Jerry Jones, who has also served as the president and general manager since he bought the storied franchise in 1989, has been the Cowboys’ biggest hindrance to reclaiming their place atop the NFL’s mountain.

Jones immediately hired his longtime friend, Jimmy Johnson, to be the head coach in ’89, and it was the latter who was seen as the real mastermind behind the building of a new Dallas dynasty that won three Super Bowls in four seasons in the early-to-mid-’90s.

Jones and Johnson had a falling out after Dallas’ second-straight title in Super Bowl XXVIII, and even though the Cowboys won another Lombardi two years later under head coach Barry Switzer, Johnson’s fingerprints were all over that third trophy.

Much to the dismay of Cowboys fans, Jones has remained in the role of general manager, and, again, the results have been far from desirable.

It has been said that Jones knows how to collect superstars, but he has no real idea how to build a complete roster.

To reiterate, the Cowboys have plenty of star power on offense, and the same can also be said about the defense in 2023. That is especially the case when talking about linebacker Micah Parsons, a 2021 first-round pick from Penn State who has already been voted a First-Team All-Pro twice and appears to be headed for Defensive Player of the Year honors sooner rather than later. Dallas’ defense also includes other well-known names such as cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year; Malik Hooker; and Leighton Vander Esch.

Names are one thing, results are quite another, and the Dallas defense has been Doomsday-dominant through two games.

The Cowboys appear to have a complete team. Their head coach, Mike McCarthy, isn’t considered to be one of the best in the NFL, but he does have a Super Bowl on his resume.

As for Prescott, his career has been similar to that of Romo’s up to this point–lots of stats, notoriety and money but no real postseason success.

By simply reaching the NFC title game, Prescott would actually surpass Romo’s legacy and reach the same level as Don Meredith and Danny White. Not bad, but what about Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman?

Now, that would put Prescott in rarefied air.

Most importantly, it would put America’s Team back in the saddle again.

Now, that would be the perfect name for the Cowboys’ 2023 highlight film.


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