It was only last week when former Cowboys quarterback and FOX broadcaster Troy Aikman said that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the entire Cowboys organization. Those were strong words, but they mimicked the feelings of Cowboys fans across the country after such a disappointing Monday night loss to the Tennessee Titans. Well, the mood has changed a little since then as the Cowboys delivered an impressive road win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Does that make everything all better? Certainly not, but it’s a good start and apparently, the Hall of Fame quarterback is feeling a little more optimistic about this Cowboys team this week. When asked who he would pick to win the NFC East, surprisingly Aikman chose the Cowboys.
”I would probably put it on Dallas, in all honestly,” Aikman said. ”I think that win at Philadelphia certainly positioned them very well. Washington was able to win. Tampa Bay had over 500 yards of offense against them and they still win, that’s unheard of. The next week or so will be interesting to see what happens and whether or not Washington is able to extend their lead with Dallas going to Atlanta. I think that’s going to be a really tough ballgame with Atlanta coming off a difficult loss, but they are capable of scoring points.”
What a strange turnabout of feelings. Sure, coming out on top of the NFC East isn’t going to end with confetti and a trophy presentation at midfield, but that’s still a decent accomplishment. The eventual winner is going to have to play some good football to achieve that. Aikman should know very well that winning the division is a feat that means something.
So how does he get from suggesting a complete overhaul is needed to now believing the Cowboys are the team to emerge with the division crown? Those two things seem quite different. A complete overhaul means you got some real problems. And there are many fans who feel that’s exactly where the Cowboys are and one win against the Eagles isn’t about to change that. But these same people probably aren’t picking Dallas to win the division. If they believe this team projects the type of dysfunction Aikman has claimed, then they most likely think more bad games are coming and that won’t translate into a division title.
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for Cowboys fans after watching their team follow up nice performances with disappointing showings the following week. Opponents we think they should smoke, turn around and beat them whereas the Cowboys manage to come out on the winning end against teams who we expect to give them trouble. It’s really hard to put your finger on what’s happening with this Cowboys team. Oh, sure - we have ideas on what the problem is. Everyone from Dak Prescott, Scott Linehan, Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, to even Rowdy the mascot - they all have a part in this. Yet, here we are rooting for a team that some believe still has a shot at the playoffs.
Why does Aikman give the nod to Dallas? Well, he has his reasons.
“I think the defense for Dallas is going to have to continue to have the type of game like they had the other night,” Aikman said. ”But I just think Washington is so beat up. How they’re doing it is pretty remarkable. I think Jay Gruden has done a really good job considering what all they have loss. They have a 2.5 game lead on Dallas, the Thanksgiving game is huge. If Dallas can keep it within two games going into Thanksgiving and win that game, I think they’re positioned pretty well. The fact that they’ve got Philadelphia now at home bodes well for the Cowboys as well. Right now if I had to pick someone, I’d pick Dallas.”
Aikman’s remarks may speak more about the state of the division than anything hopeful about the future of the Cowboys, but there are some good reasons to be optimistic.
The defense is playing really well and that’s a big improvement over year’s past. On Sunday night, NBC showed out a couple graphics that really made you appreciate how good this group has become.
The Cowboys defense is ranked #1 in the NFC in points allowed.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 13, 2018
Let's take a moment to appreciate the fine work this organization has done in putting together such a strong group. #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/iOw1eaf8uo
And remember those fourth-quarter collapses by the Cowboys defense in 2013 when Matthew Stafford (24 points) and Matt Flynn (20 points) led their teams to comebacks? Well, we may have not given that much thought lately, but those have completely disappeared.
When Al Michaels said this last night, I was really surprised. It doesn't seem like that long ago when the Cowboys defense couldn't preserve a lead in fourth quarter.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 13, 2018
I guess things changed over the last few years. #FinishTheFight pic.twitter.com/AfPPSdfRmn
And while the Cowboys offense has been holding them back, they continue to make changes in hopes to strengthen the group. Amari Cooper is a fantastic add and his impact is already being felt.
Dak Prescott's second-best completion percentage so far this season was Amari Cooper's first game when the Cowboys played Tennessee.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) November 13, 2018
His best completion percentage so far was the game in Philadelphia.
His two best performances have been with Amari Cooper on the field.
Not to mention, the offensive line played one of it’s best games of the year on Sunday night as they helped pave the way for Ezekiel Elliott to rush for 151 yards. It was his second-best output of the year, trailing the Detroit game by just a yard.
The win against the Eagles isn’t anything that should resurrect Super Bowl aspirations back into our daily thoughts, but it was a good win against a good team. If Dallas can string together a couple more wins over the next two weeks, including that Thanksgiving matchup against the Redskins, Aikman won’t be the only one predicting the Cowboys to take down the East.