The Dallas Cowboys are a quarter through their season and have a 2-2 record to show for it. Quarterly reviews are something common across all kinds of corporations, and America’s Team is certainly no exception.
There’s a lot to think about the 2018 version of this squad, lots to like and lots to be miffed about. Dallas has shown some signs of life on offense, has a defense that is playing well, but they’re also last in turnovers created and are the only team yet to record an interception.
Trying to determine how we feel about the Cowboys a quarter in is tough. We want to believe, but there are things that make it difficult. Similarly there are things that seem to rope us back in, things like Ezekiel Elliott having the most yards from scrimmage he’s ever had in a game.
Zeke is obviously the star of the team through four games, but he’s not the only player performing at an elite level. Dallas actually boasts two of the NFL’s premiere players at the moment. That’s a very good thing.
Ezekiel Elliott leads the league in rushing through four weeks
It feels like ages ago, but allow me to remind you that Zeke was suspended for six games last season. It’s near-impossible to lead the league in rushing in only 10 games, but Elliott came close and finished 10th (he did average the most yards per game) which was an impressive feat.
Having played as many games as the rest of the field we’re now seeing what we’ve grown accustomed to with Elliott. Four weeks in, he is once again the NFL’s rushing king.
- Ezekiel Elliott, 426
- Todd Gurley, 338
- Matt Breida, 313
- Marshawn Lynch, 300
- Kareem Hunt, 289
There are two particularly amazing things about this information, and they intersect with one another to a degree. Firstly, Zeke only had 48 carries through the season’s first three games. He was tied for the lead in rushing then with San Francisco’s Matt Breida... and 48 carries was by far the lowest amount he’s had in any three-game period across his career.
Second of all, the general consensus around the water cooler from Cowboys fans is that Elliott needs to touch the ball more. This isn’t to say that that isn’t fair logic by any means, but we’re talking about a running back who has the league lead in rushing almost by a c-note, and it is almost unanimously agreed upon that he should be fed more. That’s wild.
The Cowboys also boast the league leader in sacks, DeMarcus Lawrence
When DeMarcus Lawrence pulled 14.5 sacks out of the hat last season there were many who questioned the performance’s likelihood of continuing moving forward. Tank was given the franchise tag because, well, in the NFL sometimes you’re forced to prove that you can do it again. He’s proving it.
The biggest defensive name across the NFL these days is Chicago’s Khalil Mack (sup Jon Gruden). What Mack is doing is unreal and should be celebrated. Additionally there are the typical names popping off in terms of players like J.J. Watt (hopefully he’s cool this weekend). Neither of those two lead the league in sacks, though. That would be Tank.
- DeMarcus Lawrence, 5.5
- J.J. Watt, 5
- Khalil Mack, 5
- Takk McKinley, 5
- Myles Garrett, 4.5
Lawrence had a hat trick of sacks against the Detroit Lions last Sunday, man he really likes having big-time performances against Matthew Stafford, and that catapulted him to first place. He now has 20 sacks in as many games which is an absurd level of havoc wreaked upon opposing signal-callers.
Dallas certainly lucked out that things didn’t get too sticky on the business side of football with DeMarcus like they did with the aforementioned Mack and even Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell. If anybody on the Dallas Cowboys, anybody in the NFL even, is proving that they deserve to get paid it’s undeniably DeMarcus Lawrence.
Dallas leads the league in rushing and sacks, an incredible accomplishment
The Cowboys have engineered themselves to be a team that thrives off of big-time defense and a relentless run game. If that’s going to be your identity then you would theoretically strive to be near the top of the league in categories related to them, sacks and rushing yards might just be something you settle for.
It’s a long season and we’re only 25% of the way through, but if I’d told you a month ago that the Cowboys would have the league leaders in these two categories you’d have taken that and never looked back. While it’s disappointing that they only have a 2-2 record to show for these performances they certainly bode well for the remainder of the season.
Extrapolating Zeke’s and Tank’s performances through the first quarter would give them both career highs in their respective categories. Elliott would finish with 1,704 rushing yards and Lawrence with 22 sacks. If Tank did manage to pull that off those 22 sacks would be tied for the second-most all-time in a single season and only one sack away from the outright record (22.5).
Most importantly if the Cowboys finish with the league’s leading rusher and sacker then odds are that their formula worked to a certain degree, arguably even a strong degree. Zeke and DeMarcus are the focal points of the team right now and will have to be moving forward if the Cowboys plan is going to be as successful as we all want it to be.