Dallas Cowboys have adapted to the adversity of their 2022 season

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Overachievers, underachievers, inconsistent, and dangerous are some of the adjectives you can use to describe the Dallas Cowboys this 2022 season. Frankly, each adjective deserves its own content because each adjective is a subplot in all of the drama that has unfolded this season.

For example, the “overachievers” label describes a Dallas Cowboys team that won four straight games with its backup quarterback, Cooper Rush, and dominant defense. The “inconsistent” label can be attached to the overall play of the team and the play calling of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. These are just two examples of what we have witnessed from the Cowboys through 13 games.

Cowboys Nation and critics can take any adjective and apply it to the Dallas Cowboys because so many negative things have happened to this team that they deserve an Oscar nomination for how much drama has unfolded.

The media darlings, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills, seem to get a pass and only face a fraction of the scrutiny Dallas does.

The Dallas Cowboys have faced so much adversity this season and all it’s done is make them even more determined to succeed.

Whenever you listen to the talking heads on the radio or the critics on a certain sports network, you would think the Dallas Cowboys were one of the worst teams in the NFL and not a 10-3 team that has scored 226 points in its last five games.

At 10-3, with a legitimate franchise quarterback, and several play makers on both sides of the ball, this Dallas team is by far the most disrespected team in the NFL today. However, that is fine because Dallas has earned their 10 wins. Dak Prescott engineering a 11-play, 98-yard touchdown to clinch the victory over the Texans symbolized the strength of a team overcoming adversity in a critical game.

Dak goes down and the adversity begins with a four-game winning streak

After Dak went down with a thumb injury, nobody foresaw head coach Mike McCarthy rallying his players and coaching staff to a four-game winning streak with Rush as the quarterback. To think Dallas could win more than one game with Rush was wishful thinking at best. Coach Big Mac earned his paycheck by coaching up Rush to do something no backup signal caller had ever done in franchise history, winning five straight games (including last season’s win over the Vikings) as a backup.

To McCarthy’s credit, he rejuvenated this team to believe in what him and his staff were selling because the players performed at their highest levels during their four-game winning streak. But what McCarthy did for Rush’s confidence propelled him to lead this team up and down the field with decisively passes, making the proper reads, and stayed on script with something as simple as handing off the ball.

Dallas’ defense got behind Rush and held opposing offenses to under 17 points and destroyed quarterbacks in the process. The running game became a new weapon and running back Tony Pollard was discovered as the real “X” factor for Dallas’ offense to pair with the other Herculean back, Ezekiel Elliott. By default, Dallas realized they could beat teams with their running game and play action pass- this suited well for the limitations of Rush.

Winning games with Rush was like winning in Vegas with someone else’s money. House money! All of that winning brought this team so much confidence.

The Bengals, Giants, Commanders, and Rams became the building blocks to overcome the first obstacles of adversity. Accomplishing that feat allowed Dallas to come back from a 20-0 deficit against the Eagles only to lose by nine points. Rush made some mistakes but to his credit he brought the team back to compete and try to steal a win on the road against their nemesis.

In the military, we call that adapt and overcome to whatever adversity you may face-the expected and unexpected. In Dallas’ case, it started with the unexpected thumb injury to Dak, then followed by injuries to defensive backs, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown, and to the recently injured RT, Terence Steele.

Dallas’ coaching staff promptly adapted to the adversity of losing Lewis/Brown with how they prepared a rookie corner (DaRon Bland, three interceptions) to succeed and praying fellow corner (Kelvin Joseph) follow suit. No need to worry about Joseph’s shortcomings because he is too talented NOT to succeed, and I am sure defensive coordinator (Dan Quinn) will find a way to make life easier for Joseph to reach his full potential and confidence as the season winds down.

All of those injuries to key players and Dallas is simply winning!

Coach Big Mac is leading through adversity

In years past, Dallas not only would have lost to the lowly Texans, but they would have a losing record at this juncture because of the injury to Dak. From 2007-2019, when any type of adversity would strike the team dead. A losing record was the outcome of their inability to sufficiently handle adversity.

However, that is not the case with Coach Big Mac. Pause for a moment and appreciate Dallas’ 10 wins with all of the injuries and the fact this offense has been scoring in bunches without a deep threat, and two young wide receivers still coming into their own. My Gawd!

Sidenote: Dallas signing former four-time Pro Bowler wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will make Dallas’ offense one of the scariest in the league. Watch out for the explosion.

Coach Big Mac has guided Dallas to its first consecutive 10 wins since the mid 1990’s, and the 10 wins Dallas has accumulated this season has to one of his most impressive coaching jobs. Sure, there are other issues that needs to be addressed (Moore’s play calling) but it’s actually happening in real time, like the penalties are down for the second straight game.

Site expert Reid Hanson authored an excellent article explaining that Dallas has been inconsistent for a decade now and “they are who we thought they were.”  Reid is right about the inconsistency. But the major difference is the culture has changed under Coach Big Mac, and the Texans game had more to do with Dallas’ self-inflicted turnovers than playing down to the competition and being inconsistent.

Take away the muffed punt and Dallas scores on that drive to start the beat down. Who knows. The beauty in that game was how the defense and offense responded to being down by three points late in the fourth quarter against an inferior opponent to seal a victory.

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Nobody choked and Dak delivered just like the money that is deposited into my bank account on the 1st and 15th of each month. The come from behind victory against a lesser opponent was another layer adversity that great teams encounter on their way to greatness.

With four games left in the season and 10 wins under their belt, the Dallas Cowboys know they have traveled a journey of adversity to be at least contenders in the NFCCG (NFC Championship Game). This season has not been easy, but adversity will always mold/shape winners and serve its purpose when it matters the most! BOOM!