5 things the Dallas Cowboys learned about being a Super Bowl team

Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Super Bowl has concluded and the NFL offseason is 100 percent upon us. Here are five things we as Dallas Cowboys fans have learned about what it takes to make the Super Bowl

1. A dominant defense goes a long way

Defense wins championships. It’s an annual Super Bowl argument and this year it was no different. Through three quarters social media was buzzing with defense “truthers” screaming to all who will listen that dominant defenses are the key to success.

As the fourth quarter progressed, they not-so-surprisingly faded into the background. But recent anecdotal evidence to the contrary, dominant defensive teams really do have a longstanding history of postseason success in the NFL and we shouldn’t let a single outcome influence our opinion regarding the impact of smothering defense.

2. Unstoppable rushing attack is ideal

As a full-fledged “running backs don’t matter” guy (we are a misunderstood bunch), I can honestly say having an unstoppable rushing attack is pretty dang ideal. What San Francisco has been able to do this postseason is nothing short of awesome.

one quarter of great QB play is more valuable than an entire game of dominant running and elite defense

By running the ball at-will, they’ve hidden their suspect passing attack. How do you hide a QB with a 43.8 postseason QBR? Don’t lean on him for anything important. Jimmy Garoppolo beat Green Bay this postseason with just 77 yards passing. His postseason ANY/A (adjusted net yards per pass attempt) was under 5 yards!

How feasible is building an “unstoppable” rushing attack. Not very. But if you’re lucky enough to have one, it’s a great way to win a Super Bowl.

3.“Going for it” is smart business

By the numbers, NFL teams should be kicking field goals and punting much, much less, and going for it much, much more. Even teams acknowledge this fact yet for some reason they’ve been hesitant to do so. It seems the risk of making an unsuccessful coaching decision is outweighing the benefits of doing the statistically wise thing.

In the Super Bowl we saw Kansas City go for it twice while San Fran shied away. This continues a growing trend of coaches embracing analytics in their fourth down decision making process. As a league there’s still a long ways to go, but teams are showing that playing the odds is wise – even if it assumes some added risk of blame.

4. Speed and motion is a shared belief

Nearly all of the postseason teams seemed to share a common trait on offense – speed and motion kill. Whether it was the run-heavy Ravens and 9ers, or the pass-heavy Saints and Chiefs, you used presnap motion and fast dynamic players to spread out defenses.

Pre-snap motion exposes coverages and opens running lanes. Just like fast skill players moving both vertically and horizontally post-snap, spread out defenses and open opportunities. When defenses can’t get comfortable and are forced to respect multiple motions and play options, good things happen on offense.

5. A Franchise QB is the ultimate trump card

How many cruddy QBs win the Super Bowl? Not many. No position is more important in sports than the QB position and if you’re lucky enough to have an elite one, you can accomplish anything.

On Sunday, Patrick Mahomes played one of his poorest games of the season. Unforced errors and general inaccuracy plagued him most of the day. But all it took was a good fourth quarter and he showed why one quarter of great QB play is more valuable than an entire game of dominant running and elite defense.

A franchise QB is the ultimate cheat code in today’s NFL and if you’re lucky enough to have one you can do anything.

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Lessons learned?

None of these realizations are exactly breaking news but that doesn’t mean they aren’t constantly being debated. People are repeatedly turning to recent games as trustworthy empirical evidence to prove a point. The reality is there are multiple ways to build a Super Bowl team.

Some ways are easier than others and some are more sustainable, but there really is a variety of ways to find success. In coming weeks we’ll discuss which avenues are smartest and which are long-shots, but for now we have to accept the key to Super Bowl success is primarily about being great at something.

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  • Published on 02/04/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 02/04/2020 at 10:13 AM