Dallas Cowboys Compared To Former Playoff Cinderella
Dec 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
As the 2016 regular season draws to close, the identity of the Dallas Cowboys seems clear enough to both the fans and the experts.
They are a power running team, feeding their gifted rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott behind the best offensive line in football. Their young quarterback Dak Prescott isn’t a star but his athletic, smart, efficient and a leader. As for the defense, it may not be overwhelming but it’s high on energy, effort and timely impact. That’s why this team has been hard to beat.
Another interesting question offered recently is what former teams do they best reflect. Teams that made the playoffs and may have come away with a reputation in some for or the other. ESPN did a rundown of every playoff participant so far and who they are most similar too. New England is the 2013 Broncos. Oakland is the 2005 Bengals. Miami is the 1996 Patriots.
Dallas was included as well, and their comparison was quite eye-opening.
“A better comparison for the Cowboys is the 1999 Titans, the team that finished 1 yard short in Super Bowl XXXIV. Although they weren’t rookies, the quarterback from a Mississippi university (Steve McNair) and the workhorse running back from Ohio State (Eddie George) were still young. The Titans are also similar to this year’s Cowboys on defense, because that Tennessee defense had not yet developed into the stellar unit of 2000. In 1999, the younger Titans defense was still only average (20th in DVOA), while this year’s Cowboys rank 18th. Both defenses were much stronger against the run than the pass.”
A fascinating likeness to be sure. For those who don’t remember, the 1999 Titans were a throwback kind of team. They had a power running game, a mobile quarterback with underrated leadership skills and a defense light on stars but high on effort. They also always seemed to take advantage of every moment that came their way, even when things seemed lost. For example, they executed the iconic Music City Miracle to beat Buffalo. The Cowboys have five 4th quarter comebacks this season.
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Then in the Super Bowl they overcame a 16-0 deficit to come one-yard shy of forcing overtime, falling 23-16. The big question facing the Cowboys is experience. Tennessee already had their QB-RB combo playing a couple years. Prescott and Elliott are rookies. Everybody knows that rookies tend to exhibit their worst performances in the postseason. Can Dallas dare to break that mold?
Getting through the NFC will be the first big step. No easy task.