"Life is great. Football is better." -Steve Sabol
Those words ring ever true in the halls of NFL History and the hearts of Cowboys Nation. We love this game, and we love the Dallas Cowboys. Hoo-ahh.
Part of the passion associated with loving this great game is cultivated through the great work of NFL Films. Over the last year I've had the opportunity to speak with NFL Films Senior Producer Paul Camarata, one of the leaders of Sabol's Army, twice concerning different projects.
In December he and I spoke about a new series called The Timeline and an episode that focused 50% on America's Team - a name we'll address more in a second - the Dallas Cowboys.
A few months later, Paul joined my weekly NFL Podcast, the RJ Ochoa Show, to talk about the nuts and bolts of what goes into making one of these treasures. I'm proud of all that work and urge you to check it out.
It's a funny little story about the whole "America's Team" nickname. It was another member of Sabol's Army, Bob Ryan, that coined the legendary nickname when cutting the 1978 season highlights for the Cowboys (a year ending in the loss of Super Bowl XIII, what I believe to be the greatest game ever played... but that's a story for another day).
It emanates patriotism, glory, and a pedigree of excellence. They are more than just two words. They're a five syllable code linking Dallas Cowboys fans to one another, near and far. We are, for now and for always, America's Team.
This is a philosophy that some have tried to dispute in recent years, but ultimately accepted. The Dallas Cowboys are just as much America's Team as water is wet, and gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared. Facts of life, I tell ya.
The NFL Network is on board with the right disposition and is choosing this weekend, which will culminate with a July 4th Monday, to celebrate the most star-spangled team in its repertoire - America's Team. Beginning Saturday (July 2nd) at 7:00 AM CDT, NFL Network will be showing an America's Team Marathon.
As a student of NFL History and NFL Films, I've seen all of the programs they have scheduled. As a Staff Writer here at Inside The Star, it's my job to deliver you the goods when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, so we're going to merge those two ideas here.
Let's be real. You don't have time to watch every single thing that's a part of this marathon. You've got errands to run, groceries to buy, yards to mow, kids to take care of, or any and every other possible chore that comes up through our walks of life.
I've developed a Star (we're Inside The Star, get it?!) rating for each of these films.
- Three stars means it's something you absolutely cannot miss
- Two stars means you can DVR it for a rainy day
- One star means you're not missing anything spectacular and can leave it on in the background
7 AM - Top 10 Dallas Cowboys ✭✭
Any sort of Top 10 is always an interesting debate, but that's exactly what it is... a debate. This is a subjective practice which keeps it from getting the three-star rock star status from me. What's cool about it is this program is a walk down memory lane because they include Cowboys from different eras, but the episode is a bit older and a little dated. Yawn.
8 AM - America's Game: 1971 Dallas Cowboys ✭✭✭
America's Game is a documentary series that the NFL Network began airing in 2006. The objective then was to count down the Top 20 Super Bowl teams of all time with an hour long documentary about each team. After the Top 20, they went ahead and included the remaining 20 (this was the season that culminated in Super Bowl XLI) and have made an episode for each Super Bowl Champion ever since.
Each episode has clips from that season and members from its team as narrators. This one includes Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, and Duane Thomas. It's a great tale about Staubach's battle with Craig Morton, Duane's with Tex Schramm, and Bob Lilly's with the frustration of losing.
This is a must-watch for anyone looking to understand what helped make the Dallas Cowboys who they are today.
9 AM - America's Game: 1977 Dallas Cowboys ✭✭✭
Back to back three stars means that you're going to be glued to your TV for these two hours. Maybe it'll even be three, but we'll get to that in a minute.
The narrators here include Tony Dorsett, Charlie Waters, and Drew Pearson. The 1977 squad was perhaps the best Dallas Cowboys team to ever win the Super Bowl and was the first team in NFL History to do so in the Louisiana Superdome.
Dallas certainly prospered from the services of their rookie running back Tony Dorsett, but the story about how his playing style clashed with Coach Landry's game plan is one you don't want to miss. Tres stars!
10 AM - America's Game: 1992 Dallas Cowboys ✭✭✭
This is the final three-star broadcast of the America's Game series, but it's for a great reason.
The 1992 Dallas Cowboys set the standard, not just for their franchise, but for the National Football League in the 90s. They were the first step that the team took in building a dynasty and that disposition is apparent in the episode's narrators: Troy Aikman, Ken Norton Jr., and Michael Irvin.
As you can imagine, Irvin is his charming self and tells a few stories that will make the team you remember oh so fondly all the more amazing in your mind. Also within is the legendary "asthma field" story, courtesy of Troy Aikman.
You can't miss this. Trust me.
11 AM - America's Game: 1993 Dallas Cowboys ✭✭
This installment of the series doesn't fire me up in the way that the first three World Championships do. Emmitt Smith, Jimmy Johnson, and Bill Bates do a great job of telling the story... but we expected this team to win.
It's interesting to hear about the drama behind Emmitt's holdout to begin the season, and if drama is your thing then stick around for the end when the actual end of the Jimmy Johnson era is discussed.
12 PM - America's Game: 1995 Dallas Cowboys ✭✭
Ah, the franchise's fifth - and so far most recent - Super Bowl title. #Sigh
The cast of narrators here is interesting in that it includes someone involved with their respective team who isn't present on any other episode of America's Game - a PR man.
Richard "Rich" Dalrymple joins Darren Woodson, Larry Brown, and Daryl Johnston to recount the season that made the Dallas Cowboys the first team in NFL History to earn three championships in four years.
1 PM - My Road to Canton: Michael Irvin ✭
You're a hardcore Dallas Cowboys fan. You know that. I know that. Even Michael Irvin knows that. While it's great to see Irvin's journey into football's most elite fraternity, it's a story that you are well-familiar with by now.
Use this time to catch a nap, because you'll need your rest for later.
2 PM - Deion Sanders: Canton Goes Prime Time ✭
If I knew how to slice that Star emoji in half I'd do it here. Deion is arguably the greatest defensive back to ever slip on a pair of shoulder pads, but this particular motion picture is probably my least favorite throughout the America's Team Marathon lineup.
3 PM - A Football Life: Jimmy Johnson ✭
The purpose of A Football Life is to tell the story of one's football life. "Duh, RJ."
Jimmy Johnson, in all his greatness, only spent five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. That doesn't mean that he's not one of the best coaches in franchise history, it just means that the portion of this program devoted to the silver and blue isn't particularly exciting.
4 PM - A Football Life: Roger Staubach ✭✭✭
This is one of my favorite episodes of any television program ever. And that's coming from someone who saw Sunday's Game Of Thrones season finale.
The life of Roger Staubach is so vast, so incredible, and so heroic that one hour isn't enough for us. This whole marathon could be devoted to Staubach's greatness and even that wouldn't be enough. Nevertheless, take this hour to learn about his life, both on and off the field, including intricate details about things like his Faith, "the Hail Mary," and what it was like playing for coach Tom Landry.
5 PM - A Football Life: Great Wall of Dallas ✭✭✭
This is a sight to behold.
The Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line of 2016 is heralded as one of, if not the best in the National Football League. That standard of excellence was built in the 90s by the Great Wall. This episode tells the story about how they were formed, their relationships with one another, and what it was like to pave the way for the NFL's All-Time Leading Rusher, Emmitt Smith. Prepare to be amazed.
6 PM - A Football Life: Bill Parcells ✭
This falls into the same category as the Jimmy Johnson AFL for me. Bill Parcells is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, but so much of that is because of his time spent elsewhere. Yes, the Dallas Cowboys (and Tony Romo) are a part of that story, but not enough to make it a must-see for Cowboys Nation.
7 PM - A Football Life: Tom Landry ✭✭✭
I know that you might eat dinner at around this time, but you need to postpone it for an hour. This episode of AFL is absolutely incredible.
It's an hour long education in the equally large greatness and mystery that helped encompass one of the brightest minds to ever grace an NFL sideline. Coach Landry's former players are on hand in the episode to speak about life under his wing and about the lessons they learned from, in the infamous words of Roger Staubach, "a man in a funny hat."
8 PM - A Football Life: Terrell Owens ✭✭
I'm rounding up from 1.5 stars to the full dos for the man they call T.O.. As it'll be later in the evening, you'll want to have your popcorn ready for someone who asked you to get some ten years ago now.
Terrell Owens shares a common denominator with some of these episodes in that only a fraction of his story was written in a Cowboys uniform, but he's such a fascinating individual. This episode dives into all the stops along his journey, which include two of our biggest rivals, the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Give T.O. a chance and just hit record.
9 PM - A Football Life: Charles Haley ✭✭✭
If you want to talk about fascinating lives then Charles Haley is going to take up the whole conversation.
One of the most animated personalities in the history of football helped catapult the 1990s Dallas Cowboys to the forefront of the league, and the story behind it all will leave you on the edge of your seat. Learn about the demons that Haley battled off the field and about the relationships he relied on to help him get through and, ultimately, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2 AM - NFL Classic Games: 2014 NFC Wildcard (Cowboys v. Lions)
As a nightcap, you can re-live the last Dallas Cowboys playoff win, which is only 500 or so days old.
Watch the Detroit Lions take an early lead, Terrance Williams narrow the gap before halftime, the Cowboys fight back, a slew of crazy calls, and Tony Romo throw the game-winning touchdown. It's all here for your eyes to see, and when you're done you can go pass out. You'll be tuckered out after a long day of Dallas Cowboys greatness.
Notice: You may have noticed that the America's Game titles are links. You can follow them to DallasCowboys.com where you can catch the full episode, in case you can't during the marathon!
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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