The Dallas Cowboys head into the bye week, coming off two of their most impressive wins of the season. After beating the Detroit Lions at home, the Dallas offense exploded against a bad Chicago Bears team.
Not only did the offense score on their first four drives of the game, but Micah Parsons joined in the fun, scoring the first defensive touchdown of his career.
Here is the roster power ranking heading into the Cowboys Week 9 bye.
10. Damone Clark, LB
Were there players on the field Sunday that performed better than Clark? Absolutely. However, no other player was coming back from spinal fusion surgery in their first NFL game.
Give credit to Clark and Britt Brown for getting ready to play this season after having major surgery in March. The expectation was for Clark’s 2022 season to be a redshirt year. Instead, he was activated to play a special teams role that turned into defensive snaps after Anthony Barr left the game with a hamstring injury.
Clark should take the bye week to learn the playbook because it looks like his opportunity has finally arrived. The former LSU tiger finished the game with six tackles and reached a game speed of 22 mph while chasing down Justin Fields. That is faster than Micah Parsons.
9. Tyler Biadasz, C
On this week’s episode of The Writer’s Block, this spot was given to the entire offensive line. They were the reason Dak Prescott and Tony Pollard succeeded on offense. For the first half of the game, every member of the line was working as a cohesive unit. It looked similar to the success Dallas had in 2014 and 2016.
There was a lot of criticism for the front office for not bringing in competition for the center position in training camp. However, Tyler Biadasz needs to be recognized for his play this season. Mike McCarthy stuck with the guy he moved up in the draft for, and Biadasz has proven everyone wrong.
8. CeeDee Lamb, WR
The Cowboys tried to trade for another wide receiver before the deadline passed on Tuesday but were unsuccessful. With Prescott back on offense, Lamb is showing that the team doesn’t need another receiver.
While Lamb has not reached the century mark yet for 2022, he is making big catches when the offense needs him to. He finished Sunday’s game with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Lamb was averaging 15.4 yards a catch before the second-half game plan became running the clock out.
Prescott and Lamb will have time during the bye to keep building chemistry for the second half of the season. Without a new receiver on the roster, No. 88 will have to keep building momentum.
7. Leighton Vander Esch, LB
The Bears were running all over the Dallas defense on Sunday. When the running backs crossed paths with Vander Esch, the play usually ended there. The Wolf Hunter had his best game of the season, collecting eight tackles, four solo, and a critical forced fumble.
After the Cowboys scored a touchdown to make the game 35-23, Chicago’s offense got the ball back after they scored seven points on their previous drive. When momentum started to shift toward the Bears, Vander Esch strips the ball from David Montgomery, and Parsons scoops the ball and scores a touchdown to take a 42-23 lead.
Those are the plays this Dallas defense will need against tough opponents like Minnesota and Philadelphia, who can score points. Hopefully, Vander Esch has a few more tricks up his sleeve.
6. Dalton Schultz, TE
After getting another hit to his injured knee last week against the Lions, Schultz looked like his old self and was in rhythm with Prescott all day.
The connection between both players feels similar to Jason Witten and Tony Romo. Schultz was targeted seven times, with six catches for 74 yards, averaging 12.3 yards a catch. His security blanket was there whenever Prescott needed a quick first down.
Prescott gets a free play on a critical 3rd and 9 in the second half and throws a beautiful ball to Schultz for 30 yards. At that point in the game, the Cowboys led by five points. If Schultz didn’t make that catch, Pollard would have never scored his second touchdown to cushion Dallas’ lead.
5. Jayron Kearse, S
The Bears game looked like Kearse’s best since coming back from his early season injury. He was flying all over the field and showed extreme toughness. With Malik Hooker missing from the lineup, someone from the three-headed monster had to step up.
When it seemed every Dallas defender was getting injured in the second half, Kearse went down with what looked like a hip or back injury. All of a sudden, No.27 flashes on the T.V, and Kearse played better coming back in injured than he did to start the game.
Leadership is integral to this Dallas defense, and Kearse showed that trait last season. If Dallas looks to keep up with the Eagles, Kearse will be someone Dan Quinn leans on once more.
4. Micah Parsons, DE/LB
Double teams and a lack of holding calls will be how fans remember Parsons’ 2022 season. They will also remember how dynamic of a player he can be and be a factor on the field even if the box score doesn’t say so.
His hustle play going from a double team block to pursuing Montgomery on the fumble, and having the awareness to get up and run towards the end zone, is something that cannot be taught. Those are natural instincts from a generational player. Each week we thank the football gods he is on the Cowboys and not on a division rival.
3. Dante Fowler Jr., DE
With Sam Williams battling a knee injury, Fowler was set to see more playing time. Like everyone else on this Dallas defense, he took full advantage of it. Fowler finished the game with five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one pass deflection, and one quarterback hit.
When the Cowboys edge rushers started to struggle with keeping Fields in the pocket, Fowler used his athleticism to keep up with the Bears quarterback. DeMarcus Lawrence had a few chances to sack Fields but couldn’t adjust as quickly as Fowler can.
If Williams misses more time coming off the bye week, Fowler has shown he can compete with the best.
2. Dak Prescott, QB
It wouldn’t be long before Prescott escaped the bottom part of this list. Whatever rust was left on No. 4 was shaken off after the Cowboys first offensive snap. He hit Michael Gallup on a quick gain for four yards and never slowed down.
Prescott completed 21 of 27 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The pick before the half was another sign of him trying too hard, but the blame can also be put on Lamb for not being more aggressive coming toward the ball. Outside of that throw, the rest of the game was mistake-free football.
He also brought back old Dak, who used to run the ball more. He had a perfectly executed run-pass option in the red zone, on which he scored, and took a quarterback sneak to the outside for a 25-yard gain.
If he can find a way to prevent his hands from being abused, Prescott is finding a similar groove that made him an early 2021 MVP candidate.
1. Tony Pollard, RB
No one else deserves the top spot for Week 9 than Tony “sweet feet” Pollard. With Ezekiel Elliott out of the game nursing a knee injury, Pollard was given his first start of the season. While No. 20 has been the starting back before, this seemed like his moment to shine.
Pollard carried the team on his back with 14 touches for 131 yards and three touchdowns. His 54-yard run will inflate this stat, but Pollard finished averaging 9.4 yards a carry. That’s crazy. For being a fourth-round pick and no one taking a chance on him, it was Pollard’s chance to prove why he belongs as a starting NFL running back.
Elliott and Pollard are a perfect one-two combination. If the carries are split 60-40 in favor of either guy, that’s perfect. Pollard will get his money, whether it’s with the Cowboys or another team. If Dallas wants to keep him, there’s always the franchise tag.