Mandatory Credit: Photo by Adam Hunger/AP/Shutterstock (13425833a) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (10) warms up before playing against the New York Giants in an NFL football game, in East Rutherford, N.J Cowboys Giants Football, East Rutherford, United States – 26 Sep 2022
Lots to be thankful for with this Cowboys’ team
There is no question the Cowboys are a good team.
They certainly have a lot to be thankful for after their Thanksgiving Day win over division rival New York.
Here are eight things – one for each win this season – the Cowboys should be thankful for when their heads hit the pillow on Thursday night after taking down the Giants at AT&T Stadium.
1. Cooper Rush – Without the play of Rush, the season would probably be over by now. The Cowboys lost their franchise quarterback in Week 1, but Cool Hand Coop came in, and Dallas went on a four-game win streak. Trailing in three of those starts, Rush rallied the team with pinpoint passing when the team needed it most. If the Cowboys make the playoffs, win the NFC East, or even win the Super Bowl, Rush will have been one of the more instrumental pieces of the puzzle.
2. Brett Maher – What looked like the most problematic area on the Cowboys during training camp has been one of stability in the season – all thanks to Maher. He has hit 19 of 22 field goals, including the fourth 60-yard boot of his career, an NFL record. Maher is perfect inside 39 yards, has hit 30 of 31 on extra points, and is second in the NFL in kickoff touchbacks.
3. Offensive Tackles – If not for the play of Tyler Smith and Terrence Steele, the Cowboys’ offense would not be as high-powered as it currently is. The two have played every meaningful snap this season, helping the Cowboys to the sixth-best scoring offense in the NFL at 25.4 points per game. Be thankful; Smith is just 21, Steele is 25, and their future is now.
4. Leighton Vander Esch – Quietly, he has been an anchor in the middle of the Cowboys’ defense this season. While playing 568 of 670 snaps, Vander Esch has 67 tackles through 11 games, good enough for second on the team. He gives defensive coordinator Dan Quinn the ability to move Micah Parsons around, putting him in position to rush the quarterback from a different spot across the front seven on almost every down.
5. Running Back Duo – The Cowboys are blessed with a running game that is tough to slow down, much less stop. The 1-2 punch of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have complimented each other perfectly. Whether it’s Pollard and Elliott or Elliott and Pollard, the duo can beat defenses in every way. Elliott is a pounding back that still can pick up yards in the open field. Pollard is shifty but can run inside or outside with speed and power, and he can catch the ball.
6. Dan Quinn – In less than two seasons, Quinn has taken the worst defense in the NFL and turned it into one of the best. His unit tops the league in points and passing yards allowed, they lead the league in sacks, and it’s not even close, and the Cowboys are seventh in total yards allowed. Quinn’s leadership, knowledge, and preparation show up every game day in how his players come ready to play hard from snap to whistle. Not hard to be thankful when thoughts of Dallas’ 2019 defense come to mind.
7. Micah Parsons – When you have a player on your team that regularly gets compared to the great Lawrence Taylor, then you better be thankful he’s on your team. I would assume all Cowboys fans are, for what No. 11 has brought to the team in his first 28 games – most notably 143 total tackles, 33 of those for loss, 25 sacks, and one touchdown. Whether trying to beat an offensive lineman on the pass rush or tracking down the ball carrier from behind, his motor is always running in high gear. The best part, he is just 23 and should only get better.
8. Dakota Prescott – Cowboys fans should be thankful for what Prescott brings to the table. While he is far from perfect in his play, his leadership skills are beyond reproach. This season, despite missing five games with an injury, he still ranks in the top 10 in most categories, including seventh in completion percentage and ninth in both yards per pass thrown and quarterback rating. Is he frustrating sometimes? Of course. But what quarterback isn’t? If you are old enough to remember the likes of Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson, Vinny Testaverde, and Drew Bledsoe starting under center in Dallas, then you are thankful for Prescott, warts and all.
The Cowboys are flawed, but they are 8-3. They have survived a gauntlet of a schedule, grabbing wins over both of last year’s Super Bowl participants and smashing the once-beaten Vikings on the road. They have already swept one of their NFC East rivals and have the chance to get another in the final week of the season.
That is a lot to be thankful for.