We are at just about the halfway point of the season for the Dallas Cowboys and at present time it seems like this is one of the better teams that the organization has fielded in recent memory. There is a lot left for this group to accomplish, and hopefully it is happening in the middle of the month of February. Dallas boasts an impressive 5-1 record through six games, but only the Indianapolis Colts hang banners for accomplishments of this variety. We want more.
Expectations are for this team to compete in the postseason, and while nobody is saying that an appearance in the NFC Championship Game should be the highest goal that the team is setting for themselves, but doing so for the first time since 1995 would go a long way at dispelling the idea that this organization can’t have legitimate success.
What kind of success are the Cowboys really having here in 2021, though? We can all tell that they are 5-1, but how does this stack up to the years where they have been better during their Super Bowl drought?
This is an idea that BTB’s Aidan Davis and I discussed on the latest episode of The Ocho here on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. You can listen to the episode just above this, but make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
The 2021 Dallas Cowboys team might be their best overall group since the 1990s
Something that we have been doing over the course of this season has been - at every week in the season - looking at the Cowboys’ remaining schedule through the lens of Offensive EPA/Play and Defensive EPA/Play Allowed. There is nothing that proves anything indisputably in football or in life, but this gives us a nice idea of the quality of competition that the Cowboys are facing on a week to week basis.
About a month and a half ago, when the Cowboys were through their first three games of the season, it became apparent that this team’s offense and defense could both be elite, or at least very good (we’ll refer to the defense as solid out of fairness) over the course of the rest of the season. At the time we noted that Dallas ranked inside the top 10 in both Offensive EPA/Play and Defensive EPA/Play Allowed, only the second time they were inside the top 10 in both categories through a season’s first three weeks since 2000 (the other time being 2007).
With Dallas being on their bye last week we decided to take a look at this particular idea again. Keep in mind that we are looking at the ranking of each Cowboys team’s Offensive EPA/Play and Defensive EPA/Play Allowed at that team’s respective bye since 2000, and this year’s team is among the very best.
As you can see the Cowboys are not only inside of the top 10 in terms of Offensive EPA/Play, but they are inside of the top five. In terms of where the team has ranked offensively at the bye, only the 2016 and 2019 units ranked ahead of them. 2007 came very close.
It is unfortunate to look at where teams like 2014 and 2017 ranked at their bye weeks (perhaps a topic for the offseason in terms of the gap that existed between those offenses and defenses), but make no mistake about it: this Dallas Cowboys team is one of the more well-rounded groups that the franchise has seen this century. That is not hyperbole.
Obviously trophies are not earned for where you rank at the bye week, but ultimately the point of this conversation is that the Cowboys are at a very encouraging place right now.
Hopefully that continues moving forward.