Stacking wins against divisional opponents is just what the doctor ordered. Cooper Rush going 3-0 as a starter with Dak Prescott down is something most did not see coming.
All 3-1 records in the NFL are not created equally. The New York Giants at 3-1 does not feel the same as the Cowboys, which is not the same as the Buffalo Bills. Dallas and Buffalo have shown much more as a team, whereas New York has taken advantage of their schedule.
By Week 4, fans get a feel for where their team is headed this season. The Cowboys defense is playing at an elite level while their offense outperforms expectations with a backup quarterback.
Here is the roster power ranking heading into Week 5.
Honorable Mention: The entire offensive line & Britt Brown
The offensive line did not play their best on Sunday. However, they played one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, giving them a pass. The Washington Commanders defensive line is filled with first-round picks at multiple positions. That doesn’t even include Chase Young, recovering from a torn ACL in 2021.
You know it will be a long game when Zack Martin is being spun around. Cooper Rush was sacked one time with pressure in his face all day. Overall, the unit held up and protected Rush when it mattered to get the ball downfield.
Britt Brown gets the other honorable mention even though he is not a player. Against a frisky Commanders team, he got Michael Gallup, Dalton Schultz, and Connor McGovern ready to play and start. Schultz and McGovern had a game to forget, but give them credit for coming back quicker than expected.
Gallup headlines the group because getting him back on offense was important. Brown did everything he could for Gallup in the offseason, allowing him to avoid PUP designation. His return was felt immediately, which couldn’t have been accomplished without Brown navigating rehab.
10. Neville Gallimore, DT
In the offseason, people were wondering why Gallimore was playing into the late quarters of the preseason. Reports surfaced of the coaching staff wanting to see more from a player that missed a significant chunk of last season due to an elbow injury.
Gallimore has seen plenty of snaps, but his presence wasn’t felt along the defensive line as expected, and he struggled against Saquon Barkley and the Giants. Sunday changed all that.
On The Writer’s Block Podcast this week, former Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner had Gallimore higher on his list. He wanted to give the big man some love for how he played against the Commanders. Not only did he have a sack and tackle for loss, but his run defense improved. If he can carry that into the Eagles game in two weeks, it might be tougher on Philly to win that game.
9. Micah Parsons, DE/LB
Yes, Micah Parsons is the most important player on the Dallas Cowboys. However, he was not the biggest reason for Dallas winning against Washington. He was applying pressure left and right but couldn’t record a sack.
Not getting a sack doesn’t tell the whole story. Parsons has 22 pressures on the season, which leads the NFL. However, he had a few opportunities to bring Carson Wentz down but had someone pushing him out of the way or Wentz avoided the rush. Parsons was getting double-teamed just like he was in Week 3. That increased the chances for rushers like Demarcus Lawrence and Donte Fowler Jr. to get home.
Parsons is one-of-one. There will be more times this season he is higher on the list. The Cowboys had seven players that performed better, which is a testament to what he means to this team.
8. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE
Lawrence has been the team’s best pass rusher for the past two weeks. According to PFF, he has won over 30 percent of his rus attempts. On top of that, Lawrence had seven pressures last week and had nine against the Commanders.
Lawrence continues to beat up on young offensive tackles in back-to-back weeks. He put Evan Neal and Sam Cosmi on skates. When the defensive line needed to slow down the rushing attack of Washington, No. 90 found a way to neutralize it.
He is not only the leader of this defense but is showing what could have been if paired with Parsons for an entire season. The Los Angeles Rams allowed seven sacks on Matthew Stafford against the San Fransico 49ers pass rush. The Hot Boy should get at least two in Week 5.
7. DaRon Bland, CB
Right before kickoff, Bland discovered he would be the starting slot cornerback with Jourdan Lewis getting injured in warmups. For a rookie defender that took zero defensive snaps all season, Bland played 59 on Sunday.
Wentz and the offense were running and throwing at Bland early on in the game to test him. Against the run, the rookie struggled in the first half. Whatever he did in the locker room to adjust at halftime worked.
Bland was much better at tackling and had a critical pass breakup in the endzone. His impressive performance was capped off with an instinctual interception that he read all the way. If Lewis misses a few weeks, the Cowboys seem confident to drop Bland into the secondary.
6. Brett Maher, K
Maher continues to prove doubters wrong if there are any left. When the offense failed to get in the end zone, his name was called to get Dallas on the board. He finished the night going 4 for 4 in field goals and 1 of 2 in extra points.
Maher saving the blocked kick was an underrated play because of how close the game was in the first half. A Washington defender blocked the one PAT he missed. Maher reacted quickly enough to bring the player to the ground and not allow two points in the Commanders’ favor. If it became a one- or two-point game, that moment would matter more.
For the season, he is third in the NFL with 35 points. His kicks are from all over the field and an impressive 4 of 5 in kicks further than 50 yards back. The one miss was before halftime in New York, and that one was more of a Hail Mary. The Maher comeback story continues.
5. Michael Gallup, WR
Gallup saw his first football action Sunday since tearing his ACL against the Arizona Cardinals last season. When a player returns from severe injury, who knows how the player will respond after rehab? At first glance, he passed the eye test with flying colors.
Mike McCarthy mentioned the plan for Gallup was to be in just 20-25 snaps. However, because Gallup felt comfortable with his knee and wanted to keep playing, he finished with 39 snaps on offense. The extra week off paid off.
Gallup’s final stat sheet reads two catches for 24 yards, but he had a critical touchdown and was a threat downfield all game. He drew two pass interference calls from Washington defenders, which helped flip field position. Gallup should build more confidence each week and become a more important player in this offense.
4. CeeDee Lamb, WR
After dropping a would-be touchdown against the Giants, Lamb has shown he can be a No. 1 receiver in Dallas and live up to the legacy of 88. He finished the game with six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown that pushed Washington out of reach.
Lamb’s touchdown catch was a clinic in route running. That style of play made him a breakout candidate in training camp last season. Lamb was also targeted more in the middle of the field to give him open space and run with the ball in his hands. That’s what made him a special player at Oklahoma.
If Rush gets one more start against the Rams, Lamb showing signs of rapport with his quarterback can ease some fans’ worry. Lamb, Gallup, and Brown are a strong wide receiver trio.
3. Cooper Rush, QB
The improved redheaded rifle strikes again. Cooper Rush continues to be what the Cowboys need him to be. A quarterback who can run a Dak Prescott offense and not turn the ball over. His run reminds me of what the Baltimore Ravens had in Tyler Huntley last season. When Lamar Jackson went down, Huntley could operate the offense with a similar skill set to Jackson.
Rush is not as athletic as Prescott, but he can put the ball where it needs to be. Dallas played a Washington team handicapped by Carson Wentz, who turned the ball over at the wrong time. Rush should have had two interceptions, but penalties negated them. It mattered what he did with his second chances, and Rush delivered. One of those drives led to a touchdown.
There is no debate that Prescott will be under center when he is healthy. No. 4 is the team leader and deserves to redeem himself after a rough start to the season. It will be interesting if the Cowboys lose three in a row with Prescott. Rush has earned the right to get the starting job back if Dak cannot play well.
2. Donovan Wilson, S
Wilson has entered his name into the early Pro Bowl ballot. According to Next Gen Stats, Wilson is now the second-best safety in the NFL. He has become a sure tackler and shown he can hold his own in pass coverage.
The fourth-year player leads the team in tackles with 33. Jayron Kearse was the leading tackler in 2021 with 101. When a safety leads the team in that category, it usually means the opponent’s running backs are getting pass the first level. Not with these two. Both players have a nose for the football and love thumping players in the box. Having sure tacklers on a dynamic defense like this is a strength.
Wilson is good at rushing the quarterback from any spot on the defensive line. He got a sack on Daniel Jones and almost had one this week against Carson Wentz. Wilson is known for being a missile and walloped Curtis Samuel, stopping him in his tracks. If he can keep penalties out of his game for the rest of the season, that Pro Bowl designation just may come.
1. Trevon Diggs, CB
No player on the Cowboys performed better than Trevon Diggs on Sunday. Whenever Wentz decided to throw in his direction, Diggs snuffed it out. Terry McLaurin was targeted just two times and was allowed one catch for six yards against Diggs. Shutting down a team’s No. 1 receiver separates the best from the elite.
Before Week 5, Diggs leads the league in pass breakups. As he showed against the Bengals, Diggs displayed how he is becoming more than just a defender who intercepts the ball. When he does drive on the ball, Diggs has the skills of a wide receiver to track it down and outplay the receiver he’s covering.
Trevon Diggs is much more than the yards he “gives up.” When the Cowboys play, every broadcast talks about how Diggs has given up the most yards to opposing receivers in the NFL since 2020. That stat can be thrown out the window. If the other 31 teams in the NFL were polled if they would want Diggs on their team, there should be a 100 percent response with “yes.”