The Dallas Cowboys 2021 season is officially over. The ups and downs from the roller coaster ride they took us on this year has finally come to a stop. While the end result was no doubt disappointing, there still is plenty to be grateful for this year although it may be difficult to see right now with the wounds of defeat still fresh in our minds.
Today, we take a look back at some of the biggest surprises for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. Sometimes it’s good to look back and embrace some the positives that happened instead of dwelling on the negative.
The way Dan Quinn was able to transform the Dallas Cowboys defense from a liability to what arguably ended up being a strength was simply amazing. Hiring the former Atlanta Falcons head coach was viewed by many as the Cowboys best offseason move and it certainly looks to be the case now looking back. He had a little to work with when he arrived, but was able to patch the defense with a few cost-effective free agent signings and install a culture the players were able to buy into. Under his tutelage, he helped Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons to their first team All-Pro status. He far exceeded expectations, which is why he’s one of the Cowboys biggest surprises in 2021.
The Dallas Cowboys may have had their eye on a couple of cornerbacks early in the 2021 NFL Draft, but whether it’s luck or fate they ended up with the best player in the entire draft class. Micah Parsons was simply phenomenal in his first year in the league. He’s the hands down favorite to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year and will probably finish a close second to T.J. Watt for Defensive Player of the Year. The only other player to win both of those awards as a rookie was Lawrence Taylor, which puts No. 11 in some pretty good company. The fact he accomplished so much, so early, playing multiple positions, is a testament to his talent. While first-round draft picks are expected to contribute right away, no one could’ve expected Parsons to be one of the best defensive players in the entire league this year.
Jayron Kearse was one of Dan Quinn’s cost-effective free agent signings this year that paid off in a big way. He was brought in initially because of his special teams ability, but ended up becoming a key fixture in the Cowboys secondary this season. He had his hand in several game changing plays and nearly had one in the Wild Card Round against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday afternoon. That’s not too shabby considering he had only started a total of 12 games in his career prior to arriving in Dallas. What’s even more surprising is there was a large majority of people who didn’t believe he’d even make it through final cuts. To go from pretty much being an afterthought to defensive difference maker was without a doubt one of the biggest surprises in 2021 for the Cowboys.