Jones was at it again this week, but this time it was hard to argue with his dramatic comparison between his current Cowboys and the teams from the early 1990s that lined his trophy case with Vince Lombardis for winning three Super Bowls in four seasons.
In 2021, the Cowboys are making noise about returning the franchise to championship glory, currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoff race with three games to go. And the main reason for their 10-4 record is not the passing of Dak Prescott or the running of Ezekiel Elliott. It is the defense that has put its stamp on this year’s team, and Jerry just could not contain himself when bragging on his defensive line this week.
How ‘bout that Cowboys’ defensive line? Jones puts it in rare company
Jones still has a couple more years to go before he can claim the title of the longest-continuous owner in Cowboys history. But he’s seen plenty in his 22 seasons at the helm, winning Super Bowls in 1992, ’93 and ’95.
Needless to say, there are few better experts at examining those championship teams and comparing them to other eras. So, it likely perked up a few ears among the coaching staffs of his main competitors when Jones went on his weekly radio segment in Dallas this week and compared his current defensive line of Randy Gregory, Carlos Watkins, Neville Gallimore and DeMarcus Lawrence to the cream of the Cowboys’ crop, the 1990 defensive lines that didn’t get the publicity of the “Triplets” on offense, but were just as crucial to those championship teams.
“We had [Jason] Hatcher, we had [DeMarcus] Ware, we had [Jay] Ratliff, we had those guys back here [a decade ago]. I thought that was arguably a combination of some of the best players we’ve had on the interior,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “Beyond that, I’d have to go back to the 90s when we had such a rotation on the defensive line, and we really had fresh guys out there all the time. This group has the potential to have that kind of talent, without exaggeration. But [also] have numbers.”
The 1990s defensive line led the Cowboys to 3 Super Bowl titles
Twenty years ago, it was the likes of Charles Haley, Jim Jeffcoat, Tony Casillas, Tony Tolbert and Russell Maryland who manned the defensive line and terrorized opposing offense, while Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin provided the points of offense to make the Cowboys nearly unbeatable in the early 1990s, going to four straight NFC Championship games between 1992-95 and winning the Super Bowl three times.
The coach of the first two title-winners, Jimmy Johnson, called his defensive line the backbone of the team, recording 78 sacks over the 1992-93 championship seasons.
“We came at you in waves,” Casillas told pressbodfw.com in 2019. “We basically had eight guys who could start for any team in the NFL. We got after ’em pretty good, and we didn’t let up.”
Led by Gregory, Lawrence and rookie Parsons, this line has Super Bowl potential
This year’s quartet, along with the transcendent play of rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, who also lines up as a down lineman, and the dominance in the secondary of cornerback Trevon Diggs, has made the Cowboys’ defense one of the dominant units in the league.
A good deal of their success must go to first-year defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who made a name for himself as the architect of the famed Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom” a decade ago. Now in Dallas, he has molded the defensive line into an unstoppable force, rotating players in and out and varying formations, keeping his linemen fresh to get after the ball carrier.
“He tries to make sure he lets everyone eat,” Parsons told the Dallas Morning News. “You know, they’re part of the lion pack now. There is no more lone lion. It’s the pride now. Everybody has got to get a piece of the gazelle. He’s done a great job at it. When you get your opportunity, you’ve got to make sure you finish, because I know those other guys will.”