Over the course of time as fellow Dallas Cowboys fans we have all gotten into different debates.
Each season brings with it specific topics and ideas that eventually lead to people on different sides of a proverbial fence. In the spirit of widening the parameters a bit though, we figured it was time to discuss something that stretches across all of time as far as America’s Team is concerned.
Which Cowboys team is the greatest of all time?
The Dallas Cowboys are of course one of the National Football League’s cornerstone franchises and have a rich history that is ripe with success (although the last quarter century hasn’t exactly added to that). Many a Pro Football Hall of Famer has donned a star on their helmet once upon a time and done so for teams that ultimately ended their season with the win of all wins and a bath in confetti.
As there are a number of great teams in Dallas Cowboys history, it is fair to consider which one of them is the best against one another. In order to do this, we called in someone who is more qualified than anyone to discuss Dallas Cowboys history: ProFootballTalk’s Charean Williams.
Mother Football joined us for a conversation and dissection of eight Dallas Cowboys teams, obviously the five that won the Super Bowl and three others: 1971, 1977, 1978, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 2007. You can watch our conversation below and can see all of the videos that we put out on the Blogging The Boys YouTube channel (which you can subscribe to right here). You can also listen to it on the Blogging The Boys podcast network if you prefer that, we are available on Apple devices here or on Spotify right here.
Obviously the greatest team in franchise history has to be one that won it all because that’s the whole point of the sport. The 1978, 1994, and 2007 teams merited discussion because they were great in their own right (and obviously disappointing in another), but rest assured that they were not in serious contention for the best Dallas Cowboys team ever.
As is such the true debate came down to the five teams in franchise history that each lifted the Lombardi Trophy. The Cowboys are fortunate that there are so many Super Bowl winners to choose from, but even with this being the case there is still some discussion as to which of them truly stands taller than the rest.
1971 Dallas Cowboys
There is obviously nothing like a franchise’s first world championship, and in the spirit of that, the 1971 Dallas Cowboys clearly hold a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.
Almost any Cowboys team from the 1970s is going to be in the discussion for greatest in franchise history given that time period was a historically great run for the franchise. One of the things that separates the 1971 squad apart from not just their own franchise’s history but NFL history altogether is that they won a world championship the very year after losing it.
Yes, the Cowboys lost Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts and managed to persevere enough to get back and win it all the very next year. Dallas became the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl after losing it the year prior, and only two other teams have done this since. Incidentally the Miami Dolphins that Dallas beat in Super Bowl VI went on to do it (and in spectacular fashion with a perfect season), as did the 2019 New England Patriots.
As impressive as this season is/was, it still is one of the weaker rosters compared to other championship teams. The fact that the quarterback position was a flip-flop early on between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton only weakens it compared to the others. Although of all of the franchise’s championship teams, the 1971 squad has the best point differential which certainly says a lot as Charean and I discussed in our conversation.
1977 Dallas Cowboys
Now we are talking.
Thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame finally catching up to the rest of the world in knowing that Drew Pearson is one of the greatest wide receivers ever (and Cliff Harris one of the greatest safeties), we are talking about a team that featured five gold jackets with another roaming the sidelines in head coach Tom Landry (plus another at defensive coordinator in Ernie Stautner ... not to mention Gil Brandt helping put everything together).
Entering this entire exercise, I thought that we would ultimately decide that 1977 was the greatest Cowboys team of all time; however, that didn’t wind up being the case. There is no question that they were superior to the other 70s squad that won a title, but what holds them back is that overall they were a much better unit the following season when they lost the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The smallest margin of victory that this team had in the playoffs was 17 points (in both the title game and Super Bowl) which is an indication of how great they were compared to their peers, unfortunately they simply aren’t the greatest in terms of their franchise’s storied history.
1992 Dallas Cowboys
It is difficult to beat this team if we are being honest, a lesson the entire world literally learned in 1992.
While the whole world knew that the Cowboys were on the rise in the early 90s, it did all finally crystallize for them in 1992. They were an unstoppable force offensively, but an interesting point that Charean raised in our conversation that people often forget is that not once in the era of The Triplets did Dallas ever finish at the top of the mountain in terms of offensive ranking.
The 1992 Dallas Cowboys did have the No. 1 defense in the NFL though, which was obviously a big reason for their dominance. Time will likely see more players from this group earn bronze busts and gold jackets, like it was with the players from two decades prior, and that will only add to the case here.
This is the greatest collection of talent to ever play on a Cowboys team that absolutely dominated in the most important games that they played, specifically the playoffs. They took out many a future Hall of Famer on their way to eternal glory, and it is difficult not to acknowledge them as the greatest team this franchise has ever seen.
1993 Dallas Cowboys
The fact that this team is the first in NFL history to start off 0-2 and still win the Super Bowl is impressive, there is no doubt about that; however, that in and of itself dramatically weakens their case relative to other Cowboys teams.
What’s more is that this season, specifically the latter end of it, saw Troy Aikman weakened. If we are talking about comparing these teams against one another and envisioning them playing against one another then the 1993 team not having Troy Aikman at his full health and ability really holds them back from contention.
Emmitt Smith’s holdout undoubtedly changed the way that this season started (obviously they went 0-2) which was a big reason why the Cowboys were blown out in Week 1 against Washington. Ultimately this group accomplished the primary goal, but they simply aren’t better than the competition in this space.
1995 Dallas Cowboys
My biggest argument for this Cowboys team entering this whole process was that on paper it featured something that the other 90s units did not in Deion Sanders. Obviously that separates them in one particular way.
But anyone who remembers the 1995 season will recall that it was a bit of a tooth-pulling exercise for the organization. Expectations were weighing far more heavily on them than in seasons prior, which made winning a requirement as opposed to a natural part of the process. Many of the players from this team have talked about how there was a feeling of relief when they ultimately won Super Bowl XXX, which aids that argument.
The biggest determining factor in separating 1995 from, say, 1992 is that this team did not have Jimmy Johnson as their head coach. Without the main man in charge, how can we possibly dub this group the best in franchise history?
The 1992 Dallas Cowboys are the greatest team in franchise history
Speaking of Jimmy Johnson, his presence clearly goes a long way, but so do a variety of other factors, and they all wind up pointing in the direction of the 1992 Dallas Cowboys team being the best that the franchise has ever had.
Charean Williams really encapsulated the essence of this team in my mind during our conversation, and it’s not like it is a difficult thing to buy that the 1992 Cowboys were the best team in franchise history. They are literally one of the greatest teams in NFL history, which certainly puts them at the top of their own franchise.
In 1992, the Cowboys had many future Hall of Famers, including both ownership and the head coach position (the general manager spot too, technically), and had a mentality that saw them just plow through opponents on a weekly basis, most notably in the games that counted most, which were in the playoffs.
Dallas cemented themselves as the best team in the world in this particular season, and in doing so climbed higher than anyone else who has ever worn a star on their helmets.
Who is the best team in Dallas Cowboys history?
This poll is closed