Any sports fan knows that records are meant to be broken. It doesn’t matter how impressive they are, it seems like every year there’s at least one player chasing a long-standing record. But in the NFL, 2021 should be one of those years in which the history books are re-written. That includes the Dallas Cowboys’ record books.
The league has added a 17th game to the regular season calendar, which means just about every season-long record is in danger.
These are the Dallas Cowboys’ franchise records that could be broken (or not) in 2021.
Cowboys’ records most likely to be broken
Tony Romo’s passing yards, 4,093 (2012)
Dak Prescott fell one passing yard short of breaking Romo’s record in 2019. Had he gotten one more passing yard, he would’ve done so in significantly less attempts than ol’ #9 (648 vs 596). In 2020, Prescott was on pace to shatter the league’s record for passing yards in one season before he suffered an injury in Week 5.
Although breaking the league’s record might be a more difficult task, the Dallas Cowboys’ highest score is well within reach. Kellen Moore’s offense is expected to be a pass-heavy one again in 2021. In the last couple of years, Prescott has averaged 322 yards per game. Such an average would put him at 5,474 yards per game in a 17-game season.
With one of the best receiving corps in the NFL, this should be the most likely record to be broken for the Dallas Cowboys.
Tony Romo’s passing touchdowns, 36 (2007)
On a similar note, Dak should also rival Romo’s 36 touchdowns from 2007. Romo owns the top four seasons in passing touchdowns in franchise history. However, a 17th game makes all the difference in the world.
Yet, it’s worth noting that Prescott’s involvement in the run game makes things interesting.
For example, Prescott has the fifth-most passing touchdowns in a single season in Dallas Cowboys’ history with 30 in 2019. But in that same season, he also scored three rushing touchdowns. In three of his five seasons in the NFL, he’s had six rushing touchdowns. So while one could expect him to easily crack Tony’s passing touchdown record, he could fall short of the goal.
DeMarco Murray’s rushing yards 1,845 (2014)
It won’t be easy, but Ezekiel Elliott has a shot at becoming the Cowboys’ running back with the most rushing yards in a single season. To do so over the course of 17 games, Zeke would have to average 108 yards per game, a mark he has only achieved as a rookie in 2016.
But if the Dallas Cowboys find themselves with a lead thanks to a powerful passing offense, Zeke might get a high amount of carries. I wouldn’t be concerned about Pollard eating a portion of Elliott’s snaps either. The Cowboys only involved Pollard more once Dak Prescott was injured and I fully expect them to shift back toward Zeke getting close to 80% of the snaps at RB.
Dak Prescott went down in Week 5
Ezekiel Elliott’s snap % by week last season:
– Dak gets hurt –
Zeke averaged 24.2 carries + targets per game in those 5 Dak games
— Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler) June 4, 2021
Michael Irvin’s catches & receiving yards, 111 / 1,603 (1995)
Many would put this one in the “long-shots” tier, but there’s just too much talent in the Cowboys’ wide receiver room to do so. In just about every “bold prediction” article regarding Dallas you’ll find one saying the Cowboys will produce three 1,000-yard receivers.
However, as good as Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Ceedee Lamb are individually, it’s likely that one will stand out the most in Kellen Moore’s offense. A couple of monster performances and one wide receiver might be chasing the record from none other than Michael Irvin.
Dez Bryant’s receiving touchdowns, 16 (2014)
The Cowboys’ offense has recently struggled in the red zone, but they’re still stacked with weapons to target. What Dez Bryant did in 2014 was truly amazing and I doubt the 2021 Cowboys are in position to break this record.
Prescott can target any of his three wide receivers, a couple of tight ends that have proven to have reliable hands, hand it off to Elliott, or take it in himself. I’d be very surprised if any Cowboys receiver gets close to breaking this record from Dez.
DeMarcus Ware’s sacks 20 (2008)
There’s a reason why only 12 players have recorded 20 or more sacks since 1982 (when sacks became an official stat). One of those is DeMarcus Ware, with a tremendous season in 2008. We’ll see how many more players break that mark with an extra game, but the Cowboys likely don’t have “that guy.”
Even though DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the most complete edge rushers in the NFL, he’s tiers below the best pass rushers in the game today. D-Law’s career high came at 2017 with 14.5.
There’s just no way
Emmit Smith’s rushing touchdowns, 25 (1995)
Smith’s 25 touchdowns are good for the fifth-best single season in NFL history at this category. Football has changed a lot over the past few years as it’s become a passing league. Even if you put Zeke’s last three seasons together, you’d get only 24 touchdowns. There’s just no way this record is broken in 2021.
Everson Walls’ interceptions, 11 (1981)
2011. That’s the last year the Cowboys have had a defensive back – Terence Newman – with over three interceptions. That’s right, 2011. I’d feel better about predicting a 17-0 season from the Cowboys than predicting this record to be broken. Everson Walls’ record is more than safe.
Featured image via Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports