In sports, when a team, and especially a polarizing one such as the Dallas Cowboys, are doing well, you don't have to go far before you see people making excuses for why that it so. Throughout this season, if you have been on social media or you have just turned on the television, you'll find people that want to poke holes in the notion that the Dallas Cowboys are the best team in football. You'll hear everything from A to Z on why they have been successful and even detractors like Randy Moss deliberately leave them off his list of the top teams. The reality is that the Dallas Cowboys are 11-1, which qualifies them as the best team in football at the moment. Whether you like it or not, that's the facts.
There is no reason to get worked up over anyone that wants to poke those holes because this is what the media and their affiliates are designed to do. The one thing that does make you chuckle about this whole ordeal though is this notion that the Cowboys have had it easy in 2016. That is simply not true and you can make comments about their schedule but look at what they have overcome and then tell me it's been easy.
First and foremost, in late August, the Cowboys got the worst news they could possibly have received. After taking a shot to the back in the third exhibition game, Tony Romo suffered a compression fracture to his L1 vertebrae that was going to take between 6-10 weeks to heal. The Cowboys had been down this road before and the results were not pretty with a 4-12 finish last season.
To make matters worse, Dallas had also suffered a season-ending injury to the quarterback behind Tony Romo two weeks earlier. That meant that the Cowboys were dead-to-rights in most people's minds before the season even began. How was this team supposed to succeed with Dak Prescott, a rookie quarterback, selected with the compensatory 135th pick in the draft? Behind him, eventually, was a veteran Mark Sanchez who couldn't beat out Trevor Siemian in Denver, a second-year, seventh-round pick from Northwestern. The Cowboys were toast in the minds of the fans and media types. Though Prescott was playing well in preseason, surely, he couldn't continue that type of campaign when everyone was gunning for him, right?
If there was any hope in leaning on the potential of a young defense, that was shot even before the Romo injury. Early into the offseason, Dallas was slapped with suspensions to their three best defenders not named Sean Lee as Rolando McClain, Randy Gregory, and DeMarcus Lawrence were all hit for drug violations. Two of those three have yet to return from suspension and who knows if they every will? So now, Rod Marinelli is having to rely on a front seven that was once again outmatched.
The only veteran additions to the rushmen had been a third-year restricted free agent, Benson Mayowa, and a former Philadelphia defensive tackle, Cedric Thornton. The Cowboys drafted defensive tackle Maliek Collins but he was scheduled to backup Tyrone Crawford until they moved him outside out of necessity. They drafted a fourth-round defensive end in Charles Tapper who has had chronic back problems and is currently on the injured reserve. Other than a few homegrown players, the Dallas Cowboys have had to put the bulk of their trust in supporting cast role players.
With all that considered, you have to factor in that the Cowboys have also been forced to play without La'el Collins (IR), Tyron Smith, Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, Dez Bryant, David Irving, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox and Justin Durant for one or more games this season. You can count at least six starters out of that bunch being shelved at one point or another due to injury.
If that's not convincing enough, let's poke our own holes in this scheduling excuse. Some want you to believe the Dallas Cowboys have had an easy schedule because they were 4-12 last season. Really? Well, they have played and beaten three of the Top-10 defenses in terms of yards given up. They will also have played five of the Top-10 defenses in terms of points given up. Two of those teams will account for four games they have played this season. With a rookie quarterback and running back, they have beaten the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. They've swept the NFL's second-best team in total offense in the Washington Redskins. Also included in the defenses this team has defeated are the first (Baltimore Ravens) and third (Minnesota Vikings) ranked defenses in the league.
The Cowboys have an 8-4 Giants team that stand between them and their division championship on deck this Sunday. Dallas also has two 7-5 teams fighting for first in their divisions waiting for them too. This Cowboys team also just got done playing three games in 12 days, winning all three and being the first team to secure a spot in the postseason.
A lot of detractors and so-called "non-believers" out there will tell you anything they want to try and fit their own narratives. However, the "easy" narrative just won't do. This is a team that has put it's faith and energy behind two rookie sensations and an inner feeling of unity that starts with their coaching staff and is breathed through the players. This is a battle-tested, strong-minded, singular-focused team that just so happens to be leading the league right now. Folks can say that they have been "lucky" in some cases and that's fine but there is no way they can say the Cowboys of 2016 have had it come "easy" to them. These Dallas Cowboys have earned it every step of the way through every hardship imaginable. No matter the outcome of this season, this team is building towards something that few teams have ever mastered and those that do are built to last.