It has been often noted how much talent there is on the Dallas Cowboys offense for head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to work with. A franchise quarterback, a very good and durable running back, and a trio of dynamic receiver threats give the Cowboys one of the best offensive rosters across the league. Plus, that offensive line isn’t too bad, either.
A common term that has been tossed around when discussing the trio of QB/RB/WR(TE) is the word “triplets”. The term really became popular, of course, during the Cowboys glory years with quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin leading the franchise to multiple Super Bowls.
Since the acquisition of Amari Cooper during the 2018 season, many that follow the Cowboys have wondered where the latest set of ‘Cowboys Triplets’ will stack up historically by the time their era ends. Prescott has proven to be a high-level quarterback, Elliott just recently cashed in on a big pay day after leading the league in rushing multiple times, and Cooper has revived his career with Dallas while making multiple Pro Bowl appearances.
Where does the trio rank across the league, though? CBS Sports writer Jared Dubin decided to rank the NFL’s best triplets, separating trios into tiers consisting of “elite”, “good, but maybe not great”, all the way down to “the bottom”. As you likely guessed, the Cowboys’ set ranked very highly on Dubin’s list.
Prescott-Elliott-Cooper landed in the top-3 of the triplets rankings, considered just one of five teams across the NFL with an elite set of triplets.
3. Cowboys (9.00)
Dak Prescott (9), Ezekiel Elliott (9), Amari Cooper (9)
Prescott was an MVP candidate for most of last season, and finished inside the top five in just about every measure of quarterback play. Finally freed to throw as often as other top quarterbacks in the league, Dak revealed a ceiling that the coaching staff had previously been afraid to explore. With the Cowboys keeping creative offensive coordinator in place under Mike McCarthy, Prescott should be afforded a continuity that other quarterbacks transitioning to a new coaching staff don’t usually have.
Elliott’s combination of durability, physicality, and consistency makes him a good bet to remain productive for at least the first few seasons of his contract. But we already saw last season a dip in his ability to make defenders miss and create splash plays, while backup Tony Pollard looks like the better receiving option moving forward. If Dallas utilizes Pollard in that role, it should help keep Elliott healthy and productive, but could also make the price tag on his extension look even sillier than it does at first glance. Cooper, meanwhile, has been a star since arriving in Dallas. His $100 million extension is really a two-year deal with three team options, though, so if his relative inconsistency continues over these next two years, the Cowboys can choose to cut ties and move forward with Lamb and Michael Gallup as their top two options. He’s in a strong position to succeed in the short term, though, so that may not be necessary.
Dubin’s ranking consisted of him scoring each player (quarterback, running back, and a wide receiver or tight end) on a scale of one to 10. One being the worst, 10 being the best.
All three players representing the Cowboys scored a nine in Dubin’s grading system.
As Dubin referenced in his blurb about the Cowboys, Prescott “revealed a ceiling” throwing the football that we previously had not seen much from him during his first three seasons in the league, thanks in large part to the previous regime. The franchise signal-caller in Dallas threw for just under the 5,000 yard mark and 30 touchdowns while throwing 8.4 adjusted air yards per attempt on 65.1%.
Prescott also tied a career high in touchdown percentage and ranked inside the top-5 in several different quarterback metrics. Next Gen Stats detailed some of the statistics in which Prescott ranked favorably in a season ago.
Dak Prescott finished in the top 5 last season in several of the most difficult passing situations according to our Completion Pct Over Expected (CPOE) metric:— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) May 21, 2020
➤ Deep (20+ air yards)
➤ Outside the Numbers
➤ Target Separation < 3 yards
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Elliott did not show the same explosion last season that we have become accustomed to, but it is hard to argue against Zeke being among the best players at his position in the league. The 2016 number four overall draft pick was a big factor in what Jason Garrett wanted to do offensively, and he has shown the ability to impact a game in different ways.
Cooper was not seen as worth a first-round pick when the Cowboys traded for the former Alabama star prior to the 2018 trade deadline; however, he has been a very important piece for Prescott and the Cowboys offense since arriving in the Lone Star State. While there are concerns regarding drops and his performance on the road throughout his career, Amari Cooper has been a valuable player to the passing attack in Dallas.
The two teams that ranked higher than the Dallas Cowboys in these rankings were the Chiefs’ trio of the spectacular Patrick Mahomes, rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and speedster Tyreek Hill, along with the Saints’ group of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas.
Both Kansas City and New Orleans are considered to be two teams with realistic Super Bowl hopes for the upcoming season, largely thanks to their head coach and the three players representing their squad in these rankings. Mike McCarthy has the golden opportunity to help elevate the Cowboys’ talented trio from playoff hopefuls to Super Bowl contenders.