The 2023 regular season has officially come to a close, with the Dallas Cowboys finishing with a 12-5 record for the third straight year. The team has benefited from career-best play from their star players. QB Dak Prescott finished at top of the NFL in passing touchdowns with 36, WR CeeDee Lamb led the league in receptions with 135, K Brandon Aubrey led the league in made field goals with 36, and CB DaRon Bland led the league in interceptions with nine.
While Mike McCarthy was able to get a career year from Prescott and Lamb, Dan Quinn was also able to get the best out of edge rusher Micah Parsons and Bland. In fact, it could be argued that they were the two best players this season on the defensive side of the ball.
CB DaRon Bland should be in the conversation to win DPOY after his historic season at the cornerback position. His nine interceptions were tops in the league, and his five interceptions returned for a touchdown is a regular-season record in the NFL. The last CB cornerback to win the award was Stephon Gilmore in 2019 for the New England Patriots. When comparing their seasons, Bland’s numbers this season look better than Gilmore’s did then.
Daron Bland is having a BETTER season than Gil had in 2019 when he won DPOY ... over Chandler Jones who had a 19 sack season which is 5 more than MG .. Bland is DPOY CLEARLY‼️ #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/CCW1SttPaF— J Tuck (@jtuck151) January 9, 2024
If the voters decide to lean towards a pass rusher instead, then the Cowboys should still be at the center of the conversation, as Parsons has been the most efficient pass-rusher in the league this season.
Parsons finished the season with 14.0 sacks (career-high), and led the league in pressures with 103. This is mind-boggling considering the amount of times Parsons is visibly held at the line of scrimmage by the opposing offensive line. Parsons may not lead the league in sacks, but no one has gotten into the backfield quicker and more consistently than Parsons this season. He is also the most double-teamed pass rusher.
Having a top pass rusher and a top corner in the NFL is a luxury that few teams have in the NFL. The Cowboys are enjoying that luxury this season. It is often said that defense wins championships in football. If the Cowboys can make a deep run in the playoffs, it will be from elite play from their two best defenders this season.