It is a question that has been asked by Cowboys fans for 27 years now. “Is this the year?” Actually that is not true, the questions have changed over the years. In the late 90’s the question was more like, “Do you think they can win it again?’ By the early 2000’s it was, “can Bill Parcells bring the team back to the promised land?” By the teens it was “are they ever going to win again?” And now it may be more accurate to say the question is, “is this Finally the year?”
To begin answering that question I will ask another. What did the 70’s Cowboys who won two Super Bowls and the 90’s teams that won three have in common? Those two teams put the D in Big D. Defense was what put them over the top. The Doomsday Defense of the 70’s was legendary. It boasted Super Bowl MVPs. Chuck Howley got a double distinction in Super Bowl V. He was the first player from a losing team to win the award and the first defensive player to do so back in 1971. Seven years later Randy White and Harvey Martin were the first ever co-MVPs of the Super Bowl.
The 90’s Cowboys were built largely through expert drafting following the Hershel Walker trade. Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Darren Woodson and Kevin Smith were all pieces acquired after the fleecing of the Minnesota Vikings. The fact that three of those were defensive players reveals what the focus was at the time, improving the defense. Still Jerry Jones himself was quoted as saying, “We couldn’t even spell Super Bowl around here until we got Charles Haley.”Haley was acquired in a trade with the 49ers and he put the defense over the top which put the team over the top.
Now you consider this year’s team. There is no doubt that the West Coast Offense will be great for Dak Prescott. He will continue to have quick decisions to make and lots of options in the receiving corps. The running game will help set up the pass and the offensive line anchored by future Hall of Famer Zack Martin will create all the opportunities for this team to be among the best offensive units in the NFL this year.
But the Cowboys defense has a chance to be one of the best in NFL history. Before the season started Micah Parsons said that his goal was to be a part of a defense that ranked up there with the 1985 Chicago Bears, the Baltimore Ravens of 2000 and the Legion of Boom, the 2013 Seattle Seahawks. The defensive coordinator on that Seahawks team, wait for it, Dan Quinn.
The same Dan Quinn who is now the defensive coordinator of the Cowboys. The same Dan Quinn who turned down multiple opportunities to be a head coach this past off season. The same Dan Quinn who did that because he knows this group has a chance to be special.
The defense set a high bar for itself by pitching a shutout the first week of the season. But with an improved secondary, a defensive line rotation as good as any they have had since the 90’s and Micah Parsons this defense can clear that bar.
Parsons who was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021 has actually gotten better each off season. He added boxing to his training regimen this past off season and the results have been stunning as he fights off bigger blockers with the grace of Mohamed Ali. He floats past defensive lineman like a butterfly, then stings the quarterback like a bee.
So back to the original question, “is this Finally the year?” I say yes! Once again proving that you can’t spell Dallas Cowboys without a capital D.