During his Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech last summer, Ron Wolfe referred to Lambeau Field as, "football's most storied cathedral."
I've been very blessed in that I've been able to attend a lot of Dallas Cowboys games in my life. A majority of the time I've been accompanied by my best friend - my Dad.
A year ago we decided that we'd seen Texas Stadium, we'd seen AT&T Stadium, and now it was time to explore the rest of the National Football League.
We settled on Soldier Field in Chicago and saw the Cowboys pull of a nice victory on Thursday Night Football against Da Bears.
When the 2015 schedule was released we saw that the cathedral Ron Wolfe referred to would be part of the Dallas Cowboys' tour. There was no second choice. This was Lambeau. We had to go.
We brought reinforcements this time. My Dad, his best friend, his best friend's son, and his best friend's son-in-law all accompanied us as we made our way to Green Bay, WI last weekend.
Here is a bit of our trip at what I can now say, from my own experience, is unquestionably football's most storied, historic, and illustrious cathedral.
Brett Favre's Steakhouse
We first laid eyes on perhaps the most iconic venue in sports on the night of Friday, December 11th. We were making our way towards dinner at Brett Favre's steakhouse and passed by Lambeau in all her glory.
For the time being our eyes, and stomachs, were focused on something else. Talk around the town was that Favre's put one fine piece of meat on a plate, and we had to check it out.
This thing is a living shrine to the 'Ol Gunslinger. The food is almost as manly as his style of play was.
There's a mini museum that highlights all of the accomplishments by Favre during his time in Green Bay. Magazine covers grace all of the walls and cheeshead hats are for sale in the gift shop.
There are footballs from Super Bowl XXXI, photos of Brett and his family, and just about everything Favre-related that you can dream up.
There's also food. Lots of it.
We each ordered a ribeye steak and baked potato that came with ice cream sized scoops of butter on top. One bite in we knew that the trip was already well worth it.
The only sound that came from our table for a solid ten minutes was that of satisfaction as we each feasted on what I think was a whole cow.
We raised a glass to friends, family, food, and of course the Dallas Cowboys. With a weekend of good times ahead of us... we were on top of the world. Did I mention that we were a few blocks away from Lambeau Field?
After dinner we ventured over to Lambeau. I had waited long enough, I wanted to stand in her presence.
We pulled up and got out of the car. You can't help but just stare at the stadium and let your mind wander over the course of history as you reflect how football was built here.
Right outside the stadium they have some statues. Vince Lombardi, Curly Lambeau, and a little monument to the Green Bay fans. This "statue" serves as a spot where fans can emulate the iconic "Lambeau Leap." You know that I had to get in on this.
I closed my eyes and pretended that I scored the winning touchdown during the Ice Bowl... avenging one of the most heartbreaking losses in Dallas Cowboys History. I then proceeded to find some fans in the crowd, jumped up, and soaked in the moment. They were happy... you can see it on their faces!
That wrapped up our experience for the night, but we'd be back in the morning.
Green Bay Packers Hall Of Fame
As it was Saturday there wasn't any football going on that needed to be watched. We loaded up the car and set sail to see Lambeau with some sun on her.
The stadium is incredibly large with so much going on. We wanted to check it all out, see the pro shop, but more than anything we wanted to tour the Hall of Fame.
The Packers have their own mini museum inside of Lambeau Field that is dedicated to the greatest to put on the green and gold. They also have a larger-than-life Vince Lombardi Trophy that is fifty feet tall!
Both Cowboys and Packers fans filled the line to get into the museum. Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Ray Nitschke, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Sean Lee were just a few of the many different jerseys well represented.
The museum encompasses everything related to football. There's a portion completely dedicated to the scouting process of the NFL... you can even measure yourself at the high jump!
There's fine details concerning the NFL uniform, the Packers weekly preparation, Ron Wolfe's contributions, the rise and fall of the Packers... it's got it all.
There's a particularly great portion of the museum that has bronze footballs dedicated to each player/coach/contributor who has helped make the Packers great over the years. Once you make your way through that you find yourself in the Trophy Room.
Super Bowls I, II, XXXI, and XLV are represented by their respective Vince Lombardi Trophies.
There are smaller level trinkets in this room that stick out as well, though.
During the days of NFL Championships they didn't hand out Super Bowl Rings. Watches, pocket watches, and even lighters that were commemorations for those particular teams are on hand for you to see.
The one that I found most interesting is Aaron Rodgers' Super Bowl XLV Ring. This thing, his ring, is just sitting here!
I can't believe that Aaron wouldn't want to keep it on him at all times, but I mean... it's obviously safe in the museum.
It's pretty sweet that all Packers fans can cruise through the museum and see the exact ring that belongs to their MVP quarterback that they watch Sunday after Sunday. Nobody does things like the Green Bay Packers, that's for sure.
Our tour for the day ended and we decided to head on over to a local casino and play some slots. The real deal was only a day away.
Dallas Cowboys Vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, December 13th was a day circled on all of our calendars for a long time. When it finally arrived we put on all of our gear (there was 100% chance of rain) and headed out for Lambeau.
Upon arrival you can immediately sense that this place is completely different from any NFL environment. It feels like, in some ways, a high school game in terms of the excitement in the air.
I say that in the sense that it is awesome. Every fan... young and old is a complete die-hard and you can feel it in the culture of the place.
There were Christmas carolers singing, "God Bless The Packers" as we walked by the entrance gate. The electricity was tangible. It felt like, just because of where we were, a playoff game.
We got inside and went straight for our seats. At Lambeau the bottom level isn't your traditional stadium seats... it's even more traditional with bleachers!
Before I knew it kickoff was upon us and the magic of it all started to settle in.
The Dallas Cowboys. The Green Bay Packers. Lambeau Field. I don't know that I've ever seen anything like that in person.
Every sense of the stadium is incredibly rich in history... and that extends towards the Packers fans. This isn't a game for them and its not even a tradition. It's a ritual of time, family, and a deep love for their Green Bay Packers. Everything that happens there, whether on gameday or when no one is watching, is magical.
If you're looking for an NFL stadium to visit then I cannot recommend Lambeau Field enough. It was the experience of a lifetime. Go now. Take me with you. I'll show you around.
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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