There is a lot to like about the 2022 Dallas Cowboys at the current moment, especially after a blowout victory this past Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. The 54-19 rout of the now 4-8-1 Colts ended up being a massive 35-point victory. What the box score will tell you that final score will not is how close this game really was through three quarters. For the majority of this game, it seemed like the Cowboys were playing to the level of their opponent until an unexpected 33-point fourth quarter happened. The total of 33 points in the fourth quarter went down into the franchise history books for most points scored in a fourth quarter.
There seems to be a lot of franchise records being changed with the play of this team in 2022, especially as of late. Just a few short weeks ago against the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas set a new franchise record for largest road victory. Fast forward to the Colts game, and another franchise record has been changed. With all of the history changing events regarding this year’s team, it adds just a little bit more pressure to bring that elusive Lombardi Trophy back to The Star to sit next to the other five Super Bowl victories in franchise history.
Franchise records aside, this 9-3 squad is rolling these days and look even more complete than last year’s 12-5 team. With how things ended last season, there were many folks who thought that possibly the 2021 team was going to be the peak of the franchise for a little bit. Thankfully, this hasn’t been the case as this team appears (at least at the moment) to be the most talented roster from top to bottom in some time. Coming off a 35-point victory in Week 13, you would think that the stock is up across the board, and there is a lot to like about the team right now. However, there is one area that is concerning and it has more to do with the current depth over anything else.
We’ll start our look at stock up/stock down from a positive perspective, and the keyword is balance!
Stock up: A balanced offensive performance
Going strictly off the passing yardage numbers, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t put up huge statistics. If you take a deeper dive into his performance, you’ll see how well he played for the majority of the game. Prescott, was aggressive enough that he took some chances on a few throws and made it work. He did have one pick in the game, but it was a tough sequence where Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore made a tremendous play on the ball. Some would argue that a penalty should’ve been called, but it never came. It seemed to be a bang-bang type play that in this case didn’t go in the Cowboys favor. Let’s just chalk it up to the two time All-Pro Gilmore doing what elite veteran’s do, which is make savvy plays. Aside from the savvy interception from Gilmore, Prescott played fairly well as he threw for three touchdowns and completed nearly 67% of his passes on the evening.
Once again, Prescott wasn’t forced to throw the ball more than 30 times which seems like a good omen as of late given the current three-game winning streak that Dallas has going. As Prescott limited his attempts to just 30 on the night, the ground game had a busy night as they totaled 34 carries in Week 13. From those 34 carries, it was split between four players: Ezekiel Elliott had 17, Tony Pollard had 12, rookie Malik Davis had three, and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had two. These four players combined for 220 yards and three touchdowns. At 6.5 yards per carry, the ground game was rolling which took some pressure off of Dak. If the Cowboys can maintain this type of balance on offense, they will be tough to stop and will continue to give the opposing defense fits.
Stock down: The depth in the secondary
Even with a blowout win this past week, there are still issues that need to be attended to. One particular issue reared its ugly head after learning about the season-ending Achilles injury to cornerback Anthony Brown. Brown has been a bit of a polarizing figure among Cowboys fans given his play over the years. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, he has appeared in 94 games since entering the league in 2016 with 69 of them as a starter. This should tell you exactly how the Cowboys organization feels about him. One thing is for sure, and that is he has left a hole opposite of Trevon Diggs that needs to be filled in short order. Otherwise a short trip in the postseason could be in the cards. The Cowboys do have some options on the active roster, albeit young and inexperienced ones, but those players have a chance to prove why they were drafted as high as they were.
The two players are 2021 second-round pick Kelvin Joseph, and 2021 third-round pick Nahshon Wright. With Dallas using high draft capital by drafting Joseph and Wright in 2021, the returns simply haven’t justified their draft selection. Both players were drafted for a reason, and that is to give Anthony Brown some quality competition with the eventual expectation of beating him out on the depth chart. Neither of those things have happened given the lackluster performances from Joseph and Wright.
On the bright side, the early returns on a couple recent late-rounders have given the franchise some hope, as 2021 sixth-round pick Israel Mukuamu, and 2022 fifth-round pick DaRon Bland, have flashed when opportunities have been given. Of the four players mentioned, DaRon Bland appears to be at the head of the class as he already has three interceptions in his rookie year. In Week 13 alone, Bland was second on the defense in total tackles as he only trailed Donovan Wilson in that department.
The Cowboys also have two other names that are currently sitting on the practice squad awaiting their call up to the main roster, Kendall Sheffield and Mackensie Alexander. Both Sheffield and Alexander are experienced veterans whom were signed to the practice squad as an insurance policy in case the recently mentioned Cowboys draft picks falter in anyway. It appears that Dallas has a plan in place to put together the best secondary that it can given the circumstances. Lets just hope that the makeshift secondary can play well enough to not crush the franchises hopes for a deep playoff run.