The Dallas Cowboys are playing the best defensive football we’ve seen from them in quite some time. Last year the defense was good at creating turnovers, but this season they’re barely giving up anything to opposing offenses. Comparisons to past Cowboys defenses are beginning to emerge, and one person has even reclaimed an old nickname once bestowed upon the D in Big D.
Following Dallas’ 25-10 butt-kicking of division rival Washington, Micah Parsons told reporters, “Doomsday is back.” During the Cowboys’ heyday of the 1970s, the defense was called Doomsday for all the havoc it wreaked on opposing offenses. The Cowboys advanced to five Super Bowls in the 70s, winning two. They made it to the NFC championship game seven times in the decade. Mainly on the back of the defense.
Of course, you had Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, “Bullet” Bob Hayes, and others on the offensive side. But that Cowboys defense of the 70s was rough, rugged, and not afraid to get dirty. The defense featured legendary Cowboys, Bob Lilly, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Mel Renfro, Randy White, Everson Walls, and Cliff Harris, to name a few. Those defenses dominated an entire decade.
No Dallas defense has approached that level of dominance since those early 90s Jimmy Johnson Cowboys teams. They were great but on a smaller scale since they only lasted a few years. And that was right around the time that free agency began, so keeping teams together for 10-plus years became nearly impossible. Bill Belichick is praised as a coaching guru because the Patriots’ defenses were consistently great for almost the entire Belichick/Tom Brady era.
Dallas now has what seems like a dominant defense, led by arguably the best defender in the game. Most old-school Cowboys fans and players might say it’s too early to anoint this team with such a nickname, but we’ll find out just how warranted that billing is as the season progresses. What they’ve done through four games has been quite unexpected, allowing less than 16 points per game. That’s substantial in any NFL era, but in today’s game, it’s phenomenal.
Nearly every team throws the ball 25+ times a game, and that’s on the low end. A couple of weeks ago, 37-year-old Joe Flacco attempted 63 passes for the Jets. That’s a bit excessive, but teams are frequently having their quarterbacks drop back 35-40 times and basically saying screw the running game. So, for any defense to stand tall and barely give up two touchdowns per game is noteworthy. After four games, the Cowboys rank third in the NFL in points allowed.
Parsons has quickly become the outspoken leader of this defense and is already being compared to Hall of Fame players like Lawrence Taylor and future ones like Von Miller. Aside from dubbing this defense “Doomsday,” Parsons has also admired his defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn.
The All-Pro linebacker stated, “I’ll go where you go,” regarding Quinn.
That’s probably just part of Parson getting caught up in the moment of this great start, but it surely isn’t something Jerry Jones wants to hear. Jones plans on Parsons being around for at least a decade. If this defense continues to play the way they are and win games for this team, Quinn will be one of the hottest names in the next coaching cycle outside Sean Payton. Although Quinn’s first shot as a head coach was a failure, it doesn’t mean he can’t bounce back. Everyone knows the Belichick failure that was the Cleveland Browns. Fast forward 25 years, and he’s considered by many to be the greatest NFL coach of all time. Pete Carroll fell on his face twice as a head coach with the Jets and Patriots before leaving and coming back to have a great run with the Seahawks.
So, Quinn having success as a head coach is still a possibility. There’s always the possibility Quinn could replace Mike McCarthy since no one seems to know what he even does anymore. If that happens, then, of course, Parsons wouldn’t need to go anywhere. Even if Quinn departs in the next year or two, there’s no way Jones will let a generational player like Parsons get away. That’s a situation where you back up the brinks truck if No. 11 even dreams of leaving Dallas.
We’ll find out soon how special this Cowboys defense is, with stiffer competition on the horizon. Although the Rams didn’t look great against the 49ers Monday night, Dallas travels to Los Angeles to face them in Week 5. This new “Doomsday” defense will get all the Cooper Kupp it can handle.
Then Week 6 is a big divisional matchup against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Eagles possess the fourth highest scoring offense in the league, averaging 28.8 ppg. They’ll get it on in prime time on Sunday night that week. That game will be a huge measuring stick for both teams.
Ultimately, if this Parsons-led Cowboys defense ever hopes to truly live up to the “Doomsday” moniker, they’ll need to win. It’s really that simple. Al Davis said it best, “just win baby.” The Cowboys need to do that if they want this defense to be recognized as legendary.