IRVING, Texas – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said his team is exceeding his expectations so far this season, and the reason why is simple.
"What you're seeing is that offensive line has jelled, and parts of the offensive line that we don't call the offensive line – blocking of the receivers, the backs as they take their blocking responsibilities," Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. "That's jelling for us, so we're ahead of my expectations last summer, offensively."
Jones made headlines before the season started when he used the term "uphill battle" to describe the Cowboys' prospects in 2014. Coming from the ever-optimistic Jones, that wording drew plenty of commentary about his expectations for this team. Jones said Tuesday those expectations were a result of the unknown.
"Well, we were downplaying the expectations for the reasons – look at we were trying to do to build that defense – and we really hadn't seen Martin, for instance, our draft pick, in the summer. Even into training camp we really hadn't seen him – what he could do, how he's evolving," Jones said. "We'd seen everybody else on the offensive line … We knew what those guys are. But there were some parts we hadn't seen, and so I think that's the [embedded_ad]
The offensive line, along with DeMarco Murray, deserve plenty of credit for Dallas' hot start running the ball. The Cowboys lead the league in rushing offense, with 660 yards through four games. Their average of 5.1 yards per carry is No. 4 in the league, though they have more combined carries than the three teams in front of them.
In his radio interview, Jones was asked if that dominance on the ground reminded him of the Cowboys' teams of the early 90s, with Emmitt Smith and his offensive line controlling opposing defenses.
"The year that we had what most would say was our best team of the 90s, we won nine games by a touchdown or less – by a touchdown or less," he said. "So that 'imposing your will' stuff, I don't remember it that way."
Jones did allow, however, the Cowboys' current offensive balance is reminiscent of prior teams. Dallas ranks No. 15 in passing offense, but seventh in total offense thanks to the efforts of the ground game. Tony Romo is ranked just 12th in the league in passing, but Jones said his efficiency over the last three weeks has reminded him at times of the Cowboys' offenses with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Jay Novacek and Smith.
"That team had it going balanced," he said. "Now I'm not going to say this is that team at all and shouldn't – y'all will run me off the phone. But that balance is starting to look a little familiar."