"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!
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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