It's starting to feel like something very special is brewing for the Dallas Cowboys. The way in which this team operates and how they have dealt with success has been remarkable. A lot of teams have been fortunate enough to win plenty of games but in order to reach the pinnacle, something has to be special about your team. It seems with every passing day, the Cowboys are building toward something bigger than themselves. Through adversity and prosperity, this is a team that is the exact definition of that word - team.
Jason Garrett has had a mantra each season that he's been the head coach, whether it be the "finish the fight" of 2014 or his every day "be your best, regardless of circumstances"; he's always found a way to keep his team dialed in. This season his message has been "let's build a team that we are all proud to be part of" and that's exactly what we're seeing take shape.
The offense is rejuvenated behind an offensive coordinator that can be aggressive in play-calling and two rookies that have outperformed everyone's projections. When you have the top offensive line in football, there is a lot you can accomplish. Much like 2014, these five guys up front set the tone on Sundays and if you're not careful, they will run you out of any building.
Another Garrett-ism is the phrase about "playing consistent football no matter if you are in a stadium, the parking lot, or on the moon." That's what is becoming so impressive to see as this team has had huge wins against NFL stalwarts. The Cowboys beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field and the Steelers were 3-1 at home before Dallas walked in and stole one from them last Sunday. Garrett has these players and other coaches so dialed in that they don't worry about anything but themselves.
They have an almost robotic notion of approaching every day the same way. We've heard terms of single-minded focus and faceless opponents before but this seems to be on a whole new level of that.
Looking at their defense, they were supposed to be a cellar-dwellers. Yet, they come to work every day and outplay their expectations. You could make a case that their defense is the most surprising performance of the season. They currently have the 12th-ranked NFL defense by total yards given up at 345.7 per game. Those numbers received took a hit with Ben Roethlisberger's performance but, in fairness, Big Ben has done that to great defenses before. Still, the Cowboys have managed to only give up 18.9 points per game (8th in the NFL), they are the least penalized defense in the league, and they have accumulated 10 fumbles and four interceptions along with 19 sacks.
That's the identity of this team. They are all about each other and everyone has a role and they perform it to the best of their abilities. No one person is bigger than what they are building towards and when they win, it's pure ecstasy for everyone involved. Veterans are energized by the youth of the team and it's a wild ride that you never want to end. When was the last time we were all this excited about the future prospects of this organization? You would have to go back to the beginning of the Tony Romo era. This is a team that just finds it in themselves to pull together when it matters most and win.
Each week somebody new steps up and makes plays that effectively wins the game. We know that Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will be the storyline but what about Jason Witten turning back the clock? Cole Beasley has been helping this team put games away, Terrance Williams is laying out huge blocks. Lucky Whitehead is flipping the field position and Brice Butler stepped into a role with Dez Bryant's absence. Speaking of Bryant, with a heavy heart this week, he played his tail off. Here's what he said about his teammates.
"Yeah, the game ball was special," Bryant said. "Of course, like I said, just goes to show you it's not only a football team. It's a family. It's just something that we've been building here for a long time. It's just exciting to see whenever you've got a guy, talking about myself, going through the situation I was going through, and those guys having my back and just keeping me lifted. It just made me excited.
"I felt a lot of support. They kept me happy. They refused to let me get myself down. I felt like I was peaceful for the most part. It's normal; it's my dad - somebody that I extremely loved who's no longer here. With these guys, the great supporting cast that I have around me is just amazing."
The same can be said for the defense, this week it was Lawrence and Byron Jones making plays. The week before it was Maliek Collins and Terrell McClain. Sean Lee's impact can not be overstated. Brandon Carr is playing extremely well seeing as his counterparts are hurt or they are rookies learning on the fly. Orlando Scandrick is still trying to get back to 100% but he's not backing down from the challenges.
What has been the most impressive part of this system has got to be the camaraderie and family unity that we're seeing each week in the locker room. From consoling Dez Bryant in the loss of his father to making Witten feel young and spry again. This feeling is electric and it's contagious. They stick with each other through everything and they never give up on each other throughout the course of a game. There are no players with individual mentalities, they are working collectively for their ultimate goals.
This is a special bond that only those teams that were able to accomplish special things know about. That's why you see everyone buying in and sacrificing personal opinions or individual goals for the better of the team. This is a true team with 53 guys on the same page at all times. It's a rarity in the NFL to have something like this happen and it's been incredible to watch and in many ways, they have allowed the fans in to enjoy it with them. What a great time to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.