The Dallas Cowboys midseason progress report is in full swing as we are making our lists and checking it twice in determining outstanding performers, surprising performers, and those who need improvement.
This week on The Star Seminar, my podcast partner (Rabblerousr) and I had three Cowboys experts on our show to discuss the performance of certain players. We had Pro Football Focus’ John Owning, Girls Talk, ‘Boys Talk co-host Jess Nevarez, and Dallas Cowboys dot com TV host Kyle Youmans on to help us create these lists, and today we are identifying six players who have surprised us and exceeded our expectations.
Jess Nevarez identifies one of the biggest surprises of the season in Noah Brown. With no Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup missing the first part of the year, it was Brown who came out of nowhere to suddenly be an impact player for the Cowboys' offense. Here is what Jess had to say about what Brown can do for you.
“Who expected Noah Brown to be such a clutch player for the Cowboys? He deserves his flowers, all day, every day. I’m really excited to see him healthy when he comes back after the bye week.”
For anyone who believes PFF might have been a little unfair to Trevon Diggs last year, you’ll be happy to hear that John Owning made sure to give him some love. Here is what John had to say about the Cowboys' third-year corner.
“I think the other one that you have to recognize is Trevon Diggs. He may not have as many interceptions as he did last year, but by all accounts, he’s playing even better with tighter coverage. You constantly hear from the coaching staff about how his eye discipline is better where he’s not taking the cheese falling for those double moves, falling for those play-action run fakes. He still has the high-end plays where he’s getting his hands on the ball and he’s taking away a lot of those no-no plays that he had last year. He’s continuing to ascend into that top five, top 10 cornerback range.”
Kyle Youmans wanted to make sure we didn’t forget about the splashiness of their 25-year-old edge rusher Dorance Armstrong. With the team unable to close the deal with Randy Gregory this past offseason, Armstrong felt like a consolation prize, but make no mistake about it, he’s been nothing short of fantastic for this Cowboys defense. Here is what Kyle had to say about DA.
“I’ll add another defensive name in there, and I’ll say Dorance Armstrong. There may not be the recency bias as it’s been a couple of weeks since he’s made an impact, but he’s had five sacks this season, and he’s really disruptive. He probably could be a little better in run-contain on the outside and there are things he certainly has to fix, but as a pass rusher, give Dorance Armstrong some love as he’s been a big part of how this front seven has been dominant so far this season.”
Rabs also mentioned Armstrong’s great contribution on special teams and that prompted John Owning to recognize another strong special team contributor in KaVontae Turpin. Here is what John had to say about the team’s new electric kick returner.
“He’s been a fantastic return man, arguably the best return man in the NFL for both punt and kickoffs and we’re only a mere matter of games away before he takes on all the way back to tuddy-land.”
The love for special teams kept going as Youmans gave a shout-out to someone nobody thought we would be giving a shout-out to, and that’s Cowboys kicker Brett Maher.
“You talk about performance-wise, he’s been about as consistent and automatic as anyone we’ve seen on the ballclub.”
Rabs went on to make a very bold comparison, but honestly, he’s not wrong.
“If you squint your eyes a little bit and you can’t see the number, he looks an awful lot like Dan Bailey these days. He’s become split’em part II.”
And the president of the Brett Maher fan club, Jess Nevarez had made a very astute observation about just how valuable he’s been.
“If you look at those early games, it was because of Brett Maher that the Cowboys were even winning those games. His leg has been clutch.”
The final name on this honorable mention list is “Real Deal” Terence Steele. It’s weird to think that the Cowboys have been without Tyron Smith and La’el Collins all year and yet the offensive line hasn’t gone to hell in a handbasket. Steele is a big reason for that and here is what I had to say about what he’s shown us this year.
“There was a big debate amongst Cowboys Nation about whether the front office made the right decision or not with keeping Steele over La’el Collins, but now I think it’s pretty clear that they did. He continues to improve. He gets off the snap fast, he beats people to the spot, and he’s very good in the run game. He’s going to be a corner piece of the Cowboys' offensive line for years to come.”
Do you have any players who deserve to be listed as an honorable mention? Let us know in the comments.
Also, don’t forget to check out Part I of this segment as we listed five outstanding performers who made the Dean’s List. We also have one more segment coming as we look at players who are on “Athletic Probation,” being identified as players who have not lived up to snuff so far this year, so stay tuned for that one.