The last decade or so has been rather interesting for the Dallas Cowboys. Stretching back to 2011, the official beginning of the Jason Garrett era, we have seen a lot.
There have been two head coaches, one of which won a Super Bowl in the team’s home building the year before our point in time starts, two franchise quarterbacks, multiple franchise wide receivers who wore number 88, multiple star defenders, a franchise kicker, epic victories, bitter losses, so on and so forth.
As it is the offseason, we are looking both forward and to the past and the latter felt appropriate on this week’s episode of The Ocho on the Blogging The Boys podcast network with longtime BTBer Joey Ickes. In case you did not know Joey is now one half of our Talkin’ The Draft show that drops every Wednesday on the BTB podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
Joey and I touched on a variety of things but one of the subjects we floated around was picking Dallas Cowboys teams that fit certain criteria. I asked him what his favorite team was, which group was the best (aka had the most talent), and which team was the most successful. As noted. we started in 2011 since it felt clean with Garrett’s time as the head coach starting then.
These questions are obviously subject to interpretation but interestingly Joey and I agreed on all three points.
Our Favorite Team: 2014 Dallas Cowboys
The farther and farther we get away from it, the more precious the 2014 Dallas Cowboys season feels. Something that Joey and I agreed on was that 2014 was such validation in a lot of ways. It was validation in that Tony Romo played like the quarterback so many of us knew he ultimately was, validation for the Jason Garrett supporters that his team finally broke through past the 8-8 seasons, and validation for the Zack Martin supporters who preferred that pick over Johnny Manziel.
Beyond the validation of it all, 2014 also came out of nowhere. It was a surprise and gave us butterflies each and every week. It felt like the prize we earned after so many years of heartbreak which is why the dramatic end to it all was such a gut-punch.
It is wild to think that the 2014 group got together for day one of practice almost nine years ago (when Sean Lee was lost for the season). Time flies.
The Best Team: 2016 Dallas Cowboys
Again Joey and I were in agreement as mentioned above, the 2016 Dallas Cowboys seem like the biggest collection of talent that the organization has had since 2011. It was arguably the peak of the offensive line that we are seeing the final stretches of (in terms of the original nucleus).
Other factors that made 2016 great were that the Cowboys secondary finally all clicked together at once (before eventually all departing in free agency). Of course, the headliner was the performance that we saw from Ezekiel Elliott as a rookie. Pick a single running back performance from any team since 2011 and 2016 Zeke ranks right near the very top.
Beyond having a lot of talent you can make the argument that 2016 was the team’s best shot at finally reaching the NFC Championship Game. It didn’t totally feel like it at the time but 2016 was only their first time hosting a Divisional Round playoff game since the infamous 2007 season. That it was their first postseason matchup with them coming off of the bye and that they still couldn’t get it done, well, it hurts.
The Most Successful Team: 2022 Dallas Cowboys
I’d imagine that this is where we will have the highest level of disagreement, but Joey and I were in unison all the way through and both believe 2022 is the most successful Dallas Cowboys season since 2011.
For starters we only have five playoff seasons to pick from and since the team lost in the Wild Card round in 2021 they are sort of disqualified from the jump. This leaves 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2022 to choose from with all four squads getting bounced a round before the title game.
We have touched on 2014 and 2016, but in hindsight the former felt out-of-nowhere as mentioned and the latter was disappointing in that they didn’t get further. The 2018 season turned into something great after the Amari Cooper trade, but they were 3-4 when they dealt for him and even lost the first game with him to fall to 3-5.
Consider that the 2022 team did a lot of things that were previously impossible for the Dallas Cowboys. First of all they performed very well without their starting quarterback by going 4-1 while Dak Prescott was hurt, and once he returned they only continued to check off everything in the jinx department.
Dallas won in the red stripes, in throwback uniforms, in December, and of course in the playoffs. Think about that single game, though. The Cowboys won a road playoff game (for the first time in 30 years!) and did so in their cursed navy uniforms on a grass field against the greatest quarterback of all time who they had never beaten before in Tom Brady.
What’s more is that Dallas did this in 2022 after being a very good team in 2021. The 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2021 teams all showed up after non-playoff seasons the year prior. We just saw the Cowboys return to the playoffs on consecutive years for the first time in a decade and a half, win double-digit games in consecutive seasons in even longer, the list of things they put an end to is very long. Unfortunately they didn’t put an end to that one particular thing.