It's no coincidence that the Dallas Cowboys are one of the most recognizable franchises in North American professional sports. Since being dubbed America's Team in the late '70s, the Dallas Cowboys have been at the front of American sports for more than four decades. While the cheerleaders and the marketing have helped the Cowboys to become the most valuable sports franchise in the world, it's the product on the field that has had a much bigger impact. No team in the NFL has won their division at a higher rate than the Dallas Cowboys.
The Jets have won their division just 4 times in 59 seasons, the worst rate of any team in the NFL.
In the Dallas Cowboys 59 seasons as a professional football franchise, they've won their division 24 times. That 41% division win rate is the best in the history of professional football. No other team in the league has won their division at a rate of 40% or better. The New England Patriots, who have the second highest division win rate, have only won their division 36% of the time.
Obviously, the Patriots are the hottest team in the NFL and arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of professional football. They've won 16 AFC East titles since 2001. It's an incredible run, considering they'd only won five division titles in the 41 seasons prior to 2001.
There are teams that have won more division titles, like the Green Bay Packers and their 28 titles, but they've played 39 more seasons of professional football than the Dallas Cowboys. The New York Giants have won 25 division titles, but they've played 35 more seasons than the Cowboys. The Packers have only won their division 29% of the time while the Giants have only won their division 27% of the time.
At the Dallas Cowboys 41% division win rate, if given the same 98-year existence that the Green Bay Packers have enjoyed, would have 40 division titles under their belt.
The other franchises with 24 division titles are the Chicago Bears, who've played 99 seasons of professional football, and the Pittsburgh Steelers who've played 86 seasons of professional football.
The Giants won 17 of their 25 division titles prior to the NFL/AFL merger in 1970. The Green Bay Packers won 14 of their 28 division titles prior to 1970. The Chicago Bears won 13 of their 24 division titles before the merger. The Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, have won 20 of their 24 division titles after the merger. The other four coming in the 1960s.
The Steelers were terrible before the merger. After the merger, however, they've had a ton of success, winning 23 of their 24 division titles since 1970.
Looking at what these teams have done since the 1970 merger, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the highest division title win rate at 47%. The New England Patriots would be next at 43%. The Dallas Cowboys come in third at 43%. At 39%, the San Francisco 49ers come in with the fourth best division win rate since the merger. Those four teams have been the best four teams of the Super Bowl era, having won 22 of the 53 Super Bowls combined.
Along with the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots, the Minnesota Vikings are the only other team to have played fewer than 60 seasons in the NFL and win at least 20 division titles. On the other hand, the Vikings don't have a Lombardi Trophy to show for all of their regular season success.
Compared to the Dallas Cowboys longest-running rivalries, they blow the competition out of the water. The Cowboys are the youngest team in the NFC East. The Giants have played 94 seasons. The Washington Redskins have played 87 seasons and the Philadelphia Eagles have played 86 seasons. Despite the longevity of the Redskins and the Eagles they only have 15 and 14 division titles apiece.
In looking at the two major eras in the famed history of the Dallas Cowboys -- that of Tom Landry and Jerry Jones -- the success rates are pretty similar.
During Tom Landry's tenure as head coach and general manager, the Dallas Cowboys won 13 division titles in 29 seasons, a rate of 45%. Under Jerry Jones' tenure as general manager -- with a variety of head coaches -- the Dallas Cowboys have won 11 division titles in 30 seasons or 37% of the time. An eight percent difference certainly seems significant, but two seasons with a division title isn't as significant. Especially when you consider, that in the salary cap era, it's much more difficult to build a consistent winner.
Look at the NFC East for example. There hasn't been a repeat division winner since the Philadelphia Eagles won four in a row from 2001 to 2004.
Parody is the word that best describes the modern era of professional football. Since the owners successfully bargained for a salary cap in the mid-'90s, the NFL has been a completely different animal. Aside from the New England Patriots, who seem to be playing their own version of Franchise Mode on Madden, no team has been able to have sustained success in the modern NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys have won three division titles in the last five seasons under Head Coach Jason Garrett. They now have a significant opportunity to repeat as NFC East champs in 2019 and have a team that is set to contend for the long haul. It looks as though they'll continue to add to that division title total and will pass the New York Giants in the coming years.
I know that there will be people that scoff at division titles, and I get that, because "Super Bowls are the only thing that matters." I get that point of view, but I disagree. You have to get to the playoffs to have a chance at winning the Super Bowl. Winning your division gives you a better likelihood of advancing out of the first round than it does being a wild card team. Winning your division means at least one home playoff game and puts you in position to host another one if things go your way.
Winning your division matters and in the history of professional football, nobody has been more prolific at capturing a division crown than the Dallas Cowboys.
Is 2019 Wide Receiver Group Best Dak Prescott Has Worked With?
Dak Prescott will be leading the Dallas Cowboys offense for the fourth consecutive year in what has been a very unlikely career. In three seasons, he's led the Cowboys to two NFC East titles and one playoff win. He's done so with quality offenses, starting by a strong offensive line and an elite running back in Ezekiel Elliott. During his career in Dallas he's had some solid receivers, but he hasn't played with a group as strong as the one he'll have in the upcoming 2019 season.
This year's starters will be headlined by Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Although there's many other intriguing players to watch at the position, those three are the presumed starting three.
Despite the big debate among fans and analysts, Prescott has been able to win games for this football team. Perhaps his worst came at the beginning of last season, when the team's plan of not having a WR1 backfired terribly.
In the first seven weeks of the 2018 season, Dak averaged only 202 yards per game. In that span he threw for less than 200 yards in four games. Once the team traded for Cooper, that average rose all the way up to 274 yards per game. He threw for less than 200 yards in only one occasion since then.
Michael Gallup is poised for a breakout season after a rookie season in which he improved every week. The Cowboys' 2018 third-round pick didn't get as much playing time at the beginning of the season as he fought for snaps with Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin among others. In the postseason, Gallup caught six passes for 119 yards. He still has a long way to go, but the talent is clearly there.
As for Randall Cobb, many fans have doubts. He's coming in to replace Cole Beasley, who was such an effective slot wide receiver. Cobb's style will likely be different, and although he might not be as good at shaking defenders off as ol' #11, he'll be more of a downfield threat than Beasley.
Comparing this starting group to the ones from prior years, it really seems like the best Dak Prescott has worked with. During his first couple of years in the league, Dak played with a Dez Bryant that (like it or not) wasn't anywhere close to his peak. 2016-2017 Dez wasn't on last year's Amari Cooper's level. Williams had his moments, but wasn't consistent and was well-known as a body-catcher.
This year's group has its question marks, that's for sure. Randall Cobb hasn't played a full season since 2015 due to injuries and Michael Gallup doesn't have a ton of experience and is yet to breakout. Even still, it seems like Prescott will have a great group of pass-catchers to help him lead the Cowboys to another NFC East title. It'll be an interesting fourth year for the young Cowboys quarterback. It's definitely good to see he'll have help.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Offensive Tackle
The Dallas Cowboys appear to be bringing back the same key trip of players at offensive tackle from last year. But with talk that 2019 could be La'el Collins' last season in Dallas, will we see signs that the Cowboys are preparing for future changes in how they handle the position in this year's training camp?
With Tyron Smith as an All-Pro fixture at left tackle, and Cameron Fleming re-signed this offseason to be the swing tackle, the intrigue swirls around Collins and his impending free agency in 2020. If the Cowboys have no intention of paying La'el what he can command on the open market, what might they do now to lay the groundwork for Collins' exit?
Here's a quick look at the projected OT depth chart for 2019 camp:
- Tyron Smith, La'el Collins
- Cam Fleming, Jake Campos
- Mitch Hyatt, Derrick Puni, Brandon Knight
As was just said, the returning top three are locked in to those spots. Campos is a carryover from last year's practice squad, so that experience gives him a potential edge over the three undrafted rookies.
Back to the top, though, and this situation with La'el Collins. If Dallas had Collins locked up for years to come, they would likely only keep the two starters and Fleming as a backup. A fourth OT is unlikely to be active on game days, and they have Guard Connor Williams' college experience as a tackle in case of an emergency.
If the Cowboys are truly thinking that La'el won't be back in 2020, perhaps they use a roster spot now to hang on to a player who they value for depth next year.
This is where undrafted rookie Mitch Hyatt becomes an intriguing figure in this 2019 camp. He comes from a championship college program at Clemson and was projected as a late-round pick this year. Dallas made him a priority free agent signing after the draft.
Of course, Campos, Knight, or Puni have the potential to make some noise as well. But Hyatt would seem to have the most upside of the group, and Dallas might be willing to consider him as a 2020 swing tackle option if he can hit the ground running in camp this year.
Cam Fleming is also going to need to have a strong camp to help the Cowboys' in their strategy. Letting Collins go would be predicated on their comfort level with Fleming as the right tackle next year. If he struggles now, then doesn't get much playing time in the regular season, that would likely shake their confidence.
The final result of all this talk could be that La'el Collins and Dallas actually do figure out a way to continue their relationship. But when the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the third round of this last draft it felt like a future-pointed move, with Collins' projected departure the likely impetus for the investment.
What we may wind up seeing is McGovern taking over at left guard and allowing Connor Williams to replace Collins at tackle. But that's a discussion better saved for next offseason.
You can read more about La'el Collins impending free agency in this recent article by our own Kevin Brady. A few weeks back, I also discussed the idea that Dallas should trade Collins now rather than lose him as a free agent next year.
For now, the offensive tackles in 2019 should have continuity and stability. But if we really pay attention in this training camp and preseason, we may see signs of what the Cowboys are planning to do at the position in the coming years.
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Randall Cobb Will Be a Different Slot WR for Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys signing Randall Cobb might just be the most underrated move of their offseason. For less than five million dollars, they got an experienced wide receiver who is only 28 years old. The former Green Bay Packer has had a solid career wearing green and yellow and now gets the chance to play with the Cowboys' colors. But what can we expect from the veteran wideout?
There are some players who are absolute locks to make the 53-man roster and Cobb is one of them. That much is clear. On the depth chart, he probably sits behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, who will likely be the number one and number two receivers, respectively.
With Cole Beasley departing to the Buffalo Bills in free agency, Cobb is expected to take his place as the offense's starting slot receiver. Cowboys Nation knows very well just how good Beasley was at playing in the slot. His ability to shake defenders off was really impressive and his hands were reliable. However, we might see something different from Cobb.
Yes, it all points toward him playing the same position, but don't expect him to be a Beasley 2.0. This is of course, not a bad thing. Something fans consistently complained about Scott Linehan's offense were the short routes receivers had to run. In Cobb's short time with the Cowboys, we're seeing deeper routes even out of the slot position.
Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com wrote: "the ball to Cobb even playing out of the slot is further down the field. We hadn’t seen that from Cole Beasley and visually it looks different."
This should be exciting for Cowboys fans, specially considering all the positive reviews on new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. What we see from Randall Cobb in 2019 could be very different from what we had seen from Beasley in prior years.
It's also worth mentioning that word is Cobb has quickly developed an important chemistry with his new quarterback, Dak Prescott. Beasley was very important in Prescott's rookie season, when he averaged 52.1 yards per game and accounted for five touchdowns.
While Beasley was an important receiver for Cowboys, he wasn't really known as a team leader. Cowboys reporter Lindsay Cash Draper wrote about Cobb's leadership skills will carry on to the team whether he's doing it intentionally or not. It's always good to have such presences out there on the training field to spark the team.
Randall Cobb won't be this team's #1 guy or anything like that, but he will surely contribute every week. When we look back to this offseason, I believe this signing will look like a great move by the Cowboys' front office.
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