The measure of success differs from organization to organization in professional sports. For the Dallas Cowboys, it always seems to be Super Bowl or bust. That was certainly the case in 2022, which made another early exit from the playoffs all the more disappointing. Despite that early exit, finishing the regular season with a 12-5 record should probably fall into the success category.
Dwelling on the bad is a lot easier to do than focusing on the good a lot of times, but being a Debbie Downer is a poor way to go through life. Focusing more on positive things instead of the negative may be a little more difficult, but arguably more rewarding. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, there were a lot more positives than negatives in 2022 and that’s something we should all be grateful for.
With that in mind, let’s hand out some awards for the Dallas Cowboys.
MVP - Micah Parsons
If we learned anything about the Dallas Cowboys in 2022 it’s that Micah Parsons is an absolute stud. He is not only one of the best players on their roster, but one of the best overall players in the entire league. The 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year will more than likely fall short of being the Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in a row, but his impact on the field week after week is undeniable. It won’t be all that surprising if the Cowboys decide it’s time to build this team around him this offseason, and rightfully so.
Offensive Player of the Year - Tony Pollard
CeeDee Lamb and Zack Martin are both deserving here, but no one had more of a positive impact on the Dallas Cowboys offense this year than Tony Pollard. He ended the 2022 season with 1,007 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns and also added another three TDs and 371 yards through the air. That’s nearly 1,400 scrimmage yards from No. 20 in what was pretty much a 50-50 split with Ezekiel Elliott this year. It’s just too bad Dallas waited until a contract year to tap into his potential because re-signing him is debatable.
Defensive Player of the Year - DaRon Bland
Let’s look beyond Micah Parsons here, because that would be way too easy and we already gave him the MVP award. If you take him out of the equation, CB DaRon Bland is the choice as the Dallas Cowboys Defensive Player of the Year. It can be argued he saved their season after both Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown went down with season-ending injuries. He wound up starting eight games as a rookie and ended the season with five interceptions. Whether it’s in the slot or opposite Trevon Diggs, No. 26 will no doubt be a big part of Dallas’ secondary in 2023.
Rookie of the Year - Tyler Smith
The Cowboys drafted Tyler Smith 24th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft with the idea of him starting his career at left guard before eventually taking over for Tyron Smith at left tackle in the not-too-distant future. Things didn’t exactly work out the way they planned and instead the rookie out of Tulsa had to take over at left tackle sooner than expected. He ended up playing 98.45% of the offensive snaps this year, the most of any of the Cowboys OL. Where he plays in 2023 will no doubt be an interesting headline to watch throughout the offseason.
Most Improved Player - Israel Mukuamu
The cornerback-turned-safety was one of the more important under the radar players for the Dallas Cowboys defense in 2022. He may have only ended up playing a total of 153 defensive snaps (13.34%) this year, but he was invaluable as an injury fill-in and was an underrated star in the Divisional Round when he showed what he could do as a slot CB. It’s going to be really interesting to see where he fits in 2023, especially with Donovan Wilson potentially leaving via free agency and with the vacancy opposite Trevon Diggs at CB.
Coach of the Year - Dan Quinn
We just thought the Dallas Cowboys defense was good in their first year under Dan Quinn a year ago in 2021. But guess what, the second-year in his system was surprisingly even better. Dallas’ defense was one of the best units in the entire league in 2022. They were the NFL’s No. 2 total defense in DVOA in back-to-back seasons and also led the league in takeaways for the second-year in a row. With him returning for Year 3, the sky’s the limit as to how good the Cowboys defense can be in 2023 under his tutelage.