The importance of the Cowboys' rise - Howard Bryant, ESPN
Dallas' resurgence has breathed life into a league that values the dull din of parity over the excitement of dynasty, Bryant writes in a very readable article for ESPN Magazine.
For years, the Cowboys have been a punchline, falling somewhere between reality TV and the nighttime soap opera that once bore the city's name. Yet the NFL is a better product when the Cowboys are a good, thriving and-for much of the country-villainous presence. The metrics bear it out, in ratings and in online popularity.
A Cowboys return is the best thing for a league that is devoid of much franchise star power and that seems oddly happy about it. The NFL is more concerned about curbing the power of individual teams to ensure profits (what moves merchandise faster than sudden contention for a division championship?) than benefiting from the success of a signature team. The result is a leaguewide mediocrity. In 2014, the Panthers won the NFC South with a losing record. The malaise is real.
The Cowboys wake up the public.
Prescott, Elliott & Co. have taken the first steps on a mission of making Cowboys games worth circling again, of restoring the team to the dynasty its own league doesn't want. Now the trick is to play deep into January.
Why the Cowboys and Dak Prescott are the NFL's best chance at creating World Series-caliber magic - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
Cowlishaw argues that the NFL could use a story like the 2016 Cowboys.
What if a kid, say, a 135th overall pick could, as a rookie, take over a once-proud franchise that had been dormant for 20 years? What if he joined forces with a more decorated fellow rookie to lead his team to a great battle with the evil Belichick and Brady as they seek an unprecedented fifth crown together?
Browns coordinator: Cowboys built to win in playoffs - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton is a big fan of what the Dallas Cowboys are doing, as he explained during a Friday news conference.
"When you look at [the Cowboys] organization, from way back when, when everybody was talking about Mr. [Jerry] Jones and this and that, well Mr. Jones is probably going to be the Executive of the Year, whether he is the owner or he is the GM. He built his team, there were issues with his team and he built his team the way he wanted to and what we are talking about, you get good players and you go.
"This is playoff football. These guys are going to be in the playoffs because they are very, very good at what they do. For us, it is going to be a great measuring stick to play: This is what playoff football is supposed to be like. You build a front, you run the ball, and then you play-action pass.
"The quarterback is benefiting from the running back who is playing well and the O-line who gives him time. Whether it is [Cole] Beasley in the slot or [Jason] Witten in the red zone, and you have Dez [Bryant] on the outside, you build a good team and you get ready to run the ball because you have to run the ball when it gets cold and that is playoff time."
2016 NFL Midseason Awards: Dak, Elliot, Cowboys dominate multiple categories - CBSSports.com
The CBS Sports analysts made their picks for who stands out most midway through the NFL season, and the Cowboys show up a lot.
One thing became extremely clear: The Cowboys are a runaway train, smashing everything in their tracks. Well, at least in terms of winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. The analysts had a difficult time deciding whether or not to go with Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott, while Carson Wentz (Boomer Esiason) and Will Fuller (Bart Scott) both got one vote each.
The Cowboys also dominated the Midseason Surprise category, with seven analysts picking some combination of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys as the biggest surprise.
Bargain offensive line key to Dallas Cowboys' offensive success - JJ Taylor, ESPN
Taylor with an ode to the Cowboys' O-line on this fine morning.
Football’s best offensive line. It’s not even debatable these days.
These linemen are the reason rookie QB Dak Prescott has passed for 253.3 yards per game with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. They’re the reason rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for a league-leading 799 yards, 114.1 per game, and is on pace to break Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,805 yards set in 1983.
Cowboys success has been built via draft - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota follows up Taylor's ode to the O-line with a paean to the personnel department. Why he chose to headline the article with Johnny Manziel is anybody's guess (so I took it out), but Machota does a good job encapsulating the Cowboys' recent draft success.
Since 2010, no team has drafted better than the Cowboys in the first round. Not only are all seven of their picks still in Dallas, they are some of the team's top contributors.
"I think more than ever we truly are sticking with taking the best player on the board," Stephen Jones said. "A lot of people preach it and talk it, but then don't do it. I do think we've been pretty true to the board."
"In terms of who deserves the most credit I think it's a group effort," Stephen Jones said. "It's an organizational effort. But you've got to start with the guy who does the most work on it and organizes it. That's Will McClay."
Now, it hasn't been perfect. The Cowboys have gambled often in the second round. Aside from Sean Lee in 2010, that strategy hasn't proved to be successful over the past decade.
"I must admit, we've kind of fallen into that little quagmire, if you will, that we've got to continue to take a look at," Stephen Jones said. "Hopefully we'll snap that streak here with Jaylon and hopefully Randy and DeMarcus Lawrence will come on and be solid guys as well for the future. But there's no question ... we've certainly got to take a look and see how we can be better in terms of finding long-term football players in the second round."
"Unlike a lot of drafts," Stephen said, "which is really hard to do with any organization, we really hadn't ruled out any of our draft picks in 2016 in terms of being able to be a player that can either be a star in this league, a starter or certainly a contributor."
"Obviously with where we sit today and the job that Dak's doing, I don't know that we would trade him for anybody, including all the quarterbacks picked at the top of the draft," Stephen added. "We're certainly optimistic about what his future holds."
Jerry Jones sees Tony Romo active behind Dak Prescott real soon - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram
Jones said Romo is ahead of where he was physically last year, but also said the Cowboys need to see more from Romo before putting him back on the field.
"He needs to feel better," Jones said on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan Friday. "He needs to have his back as strong as he can possibly be. He is ahead off where he came back and played last year. We need to see more. There is no need to not see more. This is about need as it relates to winning a game."
"We can be [in] most a unique position," Jones said. "We can have Dak playing at a high level and Tony behind him. And we walk about there and say ‘boy we got to get him in games.’ I see Tony active in the future and in the near future."
Why Sunday's win proved the Cowboys need Tony Romo now more than ever - Cameron DaSilva, FOX Sports
DaSilva writes that while Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to an overtime win, he also proved Dallas needs Romo.
It was the most impressive victory of his short time in the league, but it also showed that the Cowboys need Tony Romo now more than ever before. That sounds contradictory, but it’s true.
Romo’s experience in the red zone, late in games and under pressure will make a huge difference for Dallas’ offense, which is exactly why the Cowboys must turn to him when healthy. Prescott is an outstanding quarterback with the tools to be a starter for more than a decade, but Dallas has a potential Hall of Famer (if he wins a Super Bowl) on the roster waiting to play when healthy. There’s little risk in giving Romo another chance, while he absolutely gives the Cowboys the best chance to win a Super Bowl this season.
Damien Wilson has won Cowboys’ strongside LB job in base defense - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Wilson missed quite some time in camp after suffering an eye injury in a paintball accident, and it took him some time to fight his way back onto the team. But it looks like he's arrived.
The Dallas Cowboys still list Damien Wilson as third string at SAM linebacker on their depth chart. But Wilson now is playing the position in the team’s base defense.
"We’ve given him an opportunity to be that starting SAM in our base defense, and I think he’s getting better and better," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He’s got a lot of physical ability. He plays with the right kind of demeanor, the right kind of physicalness. You see him minimizing his mistakes the more and more he plays, and you see him making more plays. So he’s a good guy to try to develop. He’s taken advantage of his opportunity."
Cowboys preview: Browns' former third-round pick promoted to Dallas' 'roster - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
The Cowboys are a bit short-handed at corner and called up CB Leon McFadden from the practice squad. The Browns used a third-round pick on McFadden in 2013. He lasted only one season before bouncing around the league.
"I knew that was coming. Yeah, going back to Cleveland," McFadden said Friday. "It’s a coincidence that I become active this week. It’s going to be good to go there and play and showcase my skills."
The Cowboys signed McFadden to their practice squad Oct. 24. They waived fullback Rod Smith Thursday to elevate McFadden as starting cornerback Morris Claiborne is out for several weeks with a groin injury.
Sturm's Weekend Mailbag: Why Cowboys were right to pass on Sheldon Richardson - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Asked whether the Cowboys made a mistake in not tradeing for DT Sheldon Richardson of the Jets, Sturm does not mince words.
I don't. I think Sheldon Richardson wants the top level of cash for his spot which is probably in the $15m a year range. I would not give a single player that cash in this system and under this franchise design. This team is starting to draft their own and are becoming one of the real home-grown franchises in the league. There are almost no top-level free agent acquisitions at this position that make more than a fractional difference in the team success level. I don't believe you can hire a franchise DL man at the top level to fix something. Maliek Collins is pretty good proof that you can address things at a reasonable price and be ok.