FRISCO, Texas — As the Dallas Cowboys get to work this offseason in trying to figure out how to turn their continual regular season success under head coach Mike McCarthy to a postseason run in 2024, they can at least take some semblance of solace in that several players took a step forward in 2023.
McCarthy returning to the role of offensive playcaller for the first time since his days in Wisconsin yielded spectacular regular season results — leading the Cowboys' offense to being No. 1 in the league; and propelled both Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb to another level.
Both have been named finalists for top awards in the upcoming NFL Honors show, to be aired on Feb. 8, ahead of Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas.
MVP: Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Christian McCaffrey, Brock Purdy
Offensive Player of the Year: Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Lamar Jackson, Tyreek Hill, Christian McCaffrey
Not to be forgotten is who deserves recognition on the defensive side of the ball, and there's a name that's being included in the discussion [now] that is more than deserving but that, for much of the season, garnered no recognition for potentially landing DPOY honors.
Defensive Player of the Year: DaRon Bland, Micah Parsons, Max Crosby, Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt
Bland set an NFL record with five pick-sixes in 2023, and in only his second season in the league, and in only his first season as an outside cornerback. The competition is stiff in this category though, to say the very least, with Bland being pitted against his own defensive counterpart in Parsons — as well as other impact players from around the league.
Parsons took home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 and produced a career-high in sacks in 2023 (14)
It'll be interesting to see if Bland can overcome the potential edge rusher bias in his category, and if Lamb will edge out his own quarterback for the OPOY nod — Prescott having won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 — all creating a bit of fun into the voting process for the Associated Press.
If any of the Cowboys' finalists take home some hardware on Feb. 8, it'll be a first for that respective player.