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Under Review: Most Surprising Performance?


What a wild ride it was for the Cowboys this past season, enduring so many ups and downs and twists and turns along the way. For the most part, it was an enjoyable journey for this Cowboys team that found a way to rally from a 3-5 start to win eight of nine games, including a postseason victory over Seattle.

But the season ended painfully in Los Angeles, leaving Cowboys Nation hungry for more.

Before we turn the page completely on this season, let's go back and recall some of the best moments, players, games and individual plays that made the season so memorable. Let's also start focusing on the offseason plans and try to see how the Cowboys can take the next step in 2019.

The staff writers of have put together a 10-part series – Under Review – which continues today with the biggest surprise of the 2018 season.

David Helman: There are so many options for this question – Dan Bailey, Leighton Vander Esch and Antwaun Woods all spring to mind. But I'll never forget my reaction when I woke up from a nap on the flight back from Washington D.C. on Oct. 22. I asked my coworkers what they were talking about, and they responded "they just traded a first-round pick for Amari Cooper." It took them a solid five minutes to convince me they weren't joking. I'll be honest: at the time, I never would've believed Cooper would play up to that price tag. He had been lackluster the last two seasons in Oakland, and the Cowboys' passing game was atrocious. It felt like an overpay. Well, it goes to show what I know. Here we are in late January, and getting Cooper for the No. 27 overall pick feels like a steal. Yes, the Cowboys will have to find a way to extend him – but that's a small price to pay for your No. 1 receiver of the future. As it turns out, it was a pretty great trade, and it was one of the biggest surprises of my time covering the Cowboys.

Nick Eatman: So many answers to choose from here. I was a little skeptical of the move with Byron Jones, but thought maybe Kris Richard would help – which he did. But there's no way I saw Leighton Vander Esch being a Pro Bowler and All-Pro selection in his first year. Especially when missed a good part of training camp due to injuries, I just thought it would take a while before he started hunting wolves, if ever. To be honest, I wasn't that excited about the pick. Well, that's why they keep me out of the draft room. Great pick and great addition to this defense. When Sean Lee went down twice, the Cowboys not only kept playing well, but perhaps even better with LVE getting more snaps.

Lindsay Draper: With the inconsistent win-loss trend the Cowboys were sporting through seven weeks, I didn't see the big splash signing coming. Amari Cooper not only revamped this entire offense, his blue-collar approach sent shockwaves through the way this receiver group came to work. Can't put into words how much his presence alone made a lasting impact on this group. I get the sense his career was resurrected in ways even he didn't expect.