The Dallas Cowboys were once America’s Team. In their 1990s heyday, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin won three Super Bowls, and no matter where you’re from, you knew at least one diehard Cowboys fan.
But 20 years of futility slowly changed that — until last season. With rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in the fold, Dallas started to look like a team that fans across the nation can embrace once again.
The duo of Prescott and Elliott, plus one of the most consistent offensive lines in the league, paved the way for the team’s 13-3 finish in 2016. The Cowboys were the top seed in the NFC but fell short in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Packers.
But with these two young, exciting players anchoring the offense, along with star receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys are set to compete for years to come.
Prescott and Elliott eclipsed expectations as rookies
A 4-12 season in 2015 landed the Cowboys the fourth-overall pick, which they used on Elliott. It’s a risk taking a running back that high nowadays, but Elliott is a special player.
He accounted for nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage, leading the league with 1,631 rushing yards. Elliott was also was third in the NFL last season for scoring behind only LeGarrette Blount and Jordan Howard. His 2016 performance even earned him six votes for the NFL’s MVP award.
Elliott’s teammate was even more of a pleasant surprise. The Cowboys drafted Prescott hoping he could develop into Tony Romo’s heir apparent. Prescott was a fourth-round pick and the eighth quarterback off the board, but he outperformed the others — including Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, the first- and second-overall picks in 2016.
t was Prescott, not Elliott, who won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after an injury to Romo during the preseason forced the young quarterback into action earlier than the team expected. Prescott was so good in Romo’s stead that the team had no choice but to move forward with him even when Romo returned.
Prescott threw for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns against just four interceptions. His first pick of the season didn’t even happen until Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers, and that put Prescott ahead of Tom Brady in the record books for the most passing attempts without a pick.
Prescott and Elliott are just fun to watch
Prescott and Elliott enjoy themselves on the field, and it shows. Elliott gave us some of the most entertaining celebration dances last season, including a memorable jump into a giant Salvation Army bucket:
Their rapport is obvious off the field, too. Last year, they entertained us with an epic prank war that started with Elliott shooting straw wrappers at Prescott during an interview. But then Prescott got his revenge by filling Elliott’s locker with M&M’s. Zeke also roasted his quarterback about his shoe choices, though Dak finally won Elliott’s respect for wearing a pair of Yeezy’s.