The Dallas Cowboys got back on track coming out of the bye week as they handled the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8. One of the shining stars of that matchup was none other than cornerback DaRon Bland. Bland once again was able to do what he does best, and get his hands on a football and return it for six. As we all know and have been reminded all week, that was Bland’s third pick-six of the young season.
No doubt about it, Bland is having a breakout year that has everybody paying attention. In the absence of Trevon Diggs after his season-ending knee injury, Bland has been able to step in and not only provide stability, but has made sure that the big-play ability we have come to expect from the Cowboys secondary remains a factor.
DaRon Bland in single coverage:— PFF (@PFF) November 1, 2023
89.9 coverage grade (1st)
6 catches allowed
6 forced incompletions
7.5 passer rating allowed pic.twitter.com/jfW7XZuX4D
While it is clear that Bland is well on his way to a Pro Bowl-type season, Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles will be his toughest test yet. The Eagles boast one of the most lethal group of pass catchers in the NFL, anchored by A.J. Brown and the historic pace that he is on. The Cowboys' entire secondary will be tested to the max on Sunday, and with that comes the need for players such as Bland to have their best day yet.
DaRon Bland Can Solidify Himself With A Statement Game
How the Cowboys choose to match up Bland and Stephon Gilmore versus Brown and DeVonta Smith is unknown at this time, but what is known is that both will need to bring their best on Sunday. Bland is getting the recognition he deserves for his play, but when the lights are the brightest against the best competition in the league, this is a an opportunity for Bland to leave no doubt about who he is.
The Cowboys are the underdog in this one, and with the San Francisco 49ers egg still on their face, not many are going to look at the Cowboys as a real threat in the NFC unless they are able to come into Philadelphia on Sunday and find a way to win.
In a lot of ways, Bland and the Cowboys have a lot of parallels to one another. Both are obviously good, but both have face question marks about their legitimacy right now, whether that is fair or not. A quality outing by both on Sunday against a good 7-1 Eagles team could answer a lot of looming questions about both the player and the team.
The Future is Bright Either Way for Bland
Nothing can be lost for Bland in this matchup, but everything can be gained. Bland is already viewed to be an overachieving fifth-round pick that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn found in last year's draft. However, as a competitor, surely Bland wants to prove to the rest of the football world that he belongs in the conversation with some of his great colleagues at the cornerback position.
The burden of expectations heaped upon Bland and the Cowboys is actually a good thing. It means they have done enough to get to a point where people expect certain things from them. What will be pivotal in the evolution of both Bland and the Cowboys taking the next step resides in what they are able to do with this next challenge.
No matter what happens in this Cowboys and Eagles game on Sunday the Cowboys will still be in the mix for the playoffs, and Bland will still be a young star on the rise. However, with a good performance from both parties, they may be able to elevate to another level of legitimacy and can begin to be viewed in a different light. Go seize the moment, or as the Cowboys like to say this season - Carpe Omnia.