As Week 10 approaches for America’s Team, with a 6-2 record to boot, it has been a very promising start to the 2022 season. Injuries to expected contributors and many other question marks coming into the year made things look too problematic. With some luck and skill, the hand dealt to the Cowboys has been handled quite well. So well. in fact, that the playoffs appear to be in the cards this year.
In reviewing how things have panned out in 2022 at this stage, there’s one area on the team that deserves the most praise. Meanwhile, there is one particular area that hasn’t played up to snuff thus far.
Stock up: It’s a wonderful problem to have so many talented pass rushers, talk about an embarrassment of riches
The first stock up should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the team, and that is the pass rushing group. They are led by the unicorn himself, Micah Parsons, as well as a resurgent DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence, through eight games, has had four sacks as well as a scoop and score for six. The stats don’t necessarily tell the whole story for Lawrence though, but if you ask opposing offenses about him, they will most certainly say that he has affected their game plan in a big way.
Speaking of stats maybe not telling the entire story, Parsons has eight sacks to his credit and plays in a very flashy way, but isn’t always stuffing the stat sheet. His impact, just like Lawrence’s, can be felt by opposing offenses which makes both players a part of the upper echelon of the NFL today. Aside from Lawrence and Parsons, it wouldn’t be right if the names of Dante Fowler Jr. and Dorance Armstrong were not brought up when discussing the pass rushing unit of the Cowboys.
Fowler is a Dan Quinn guy who flashed potential in college that made him worthy of the third overall pick in the 2015 draft. Through 99 career games however, he has only produced 39 total sacks. He did have a nice 11.5 sack year in 2019, but hasn’t sniffed double digits in sacks since. Fowler could very well end 2022 with double digit sacks if things break just right for him. Through his first eight games, he has four sacks which currently equates to a half a sack per game. Given what Parsons and Lawrence have already done, having Fowler playing at this level currently is an added bonus.
Speaking of playing out of their mind, Dorance Armstrong is arguably the surprise of the year and the holder of five sacks in 2022. Armstrong, since joining the Cowboys as a fourth-round pick in 2018, has been a bit of a project for the organization, primarily in his first three seasons in Dallas. Last year it seemed that the patience with Armstrong was starting to payoff as he flashed as an edge rusher by garnering five sacks which is his current total just eight games into the 2022 season. Not only has he been a force on defense, but he’s made an impact on special teams as well. He just might be the most improved player on this team this season.
Possessing a great pass rush, and also having tremendous depth in that area, gives the rest of the defensive unit a better opportunity to make big plays due to the disruptive nature of the Cowboys pass rush.
Stock down: Regardless of who is behind center, the passing game still is a work in progress
When looking through the 2022 game logs, there was something interesting about them. It showed two things; there hasn’t been a game where the Cowboys have passed for more than 250 yards, and not one pass catcher has recorded a single 100 yard game. Sure, Cooper Rush has been under center for a big portion of those snaps, but the fact that the stats are what they are is astounding. It is also astounding that the team has won six games out of eight given those numbers.
The ground attack featuring Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott have picked up a good portion of the load given the lackluster passing attack so far in 2022. Not only have Zeke and Pollard done a stand up job making up for the lack of juice in the passing game, but the defense and special teams have also picked up the slack too. If even one aspect of this team falters in anyway, it could spell doom for the Cowboys going forward if the passing attack doesn’t catch up to the rest of the team.
Thankfully Dak Prescott is getting healthier and things seem to be trending in the right direction, but just recently before the trade deadline the Cowboys tried to acquire Jerry Jeudy and Brandin Cooks. If the Cowboys front office was reportedly trying to work a trade to upgrade the wide receiver room, that should tell us all plenty about how they currently view the wide receiving group. Neither player ended up in a Cowboys uniform when the trade deadline passed, but that hasn’t stopped the Cowboys from trying to work on improving the wide out situation as they are currently kicking the tires on Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ is currently a free agent due to an ACL tear that he suffered in this past year’s Super Bowl and is about ready for game action in the very near future. Having a player as talented as Beckham Jr being a free agent at this point in the year is a very uncommon occurrence. With the front office actively searching to upgrade the wide receiver position, it would make sense for America’s Team to pull the trigger for his services and really make a play to go all-in for a chance to finish this season where OBJ finished last season, in the Super Bowl.
Beckham Jr’s former team, the Los Angeles Rams, went all-in last year and it paid off with the ultimate prize, the Lombardi Trophy. It obviously doesn’t work like that every time, but if the Cowboys front office feels like the wide receiver position is the one area that if upgraded gives them a chance at a ring, then why not bring in OBJ and go for it? Just imagine an offense that features a wide receiver group of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Odell Beckham Jr. With Dak Prescott as the field general, this passing attack would instantly be a force.