"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!
Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.
Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.
Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.
I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.
In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.
Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.
Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.
In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.
If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.
If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.
What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?
A Look Around The NFC East: Week 2
The usually competitive NFC East got off to a shaky start last week, with half the division winning their season opener and the other half falling short.
Now entering week 2, the Eagles and Redskins have a chance to begin to distance themselves from the loser of the Cowboys/Giants game, and both of those 0-1 teams are looking to "save" their season. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but a home loss within the division to fall to 0-2 could be debilitating for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward.
Regardless, let's go around the division and see what each team has on tap for this Sunday.
The defending champs opened up their 2018 campaign just as we expected: with a home victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta sort of gave that game away last Thursday night, but if the Eagles can stack Nick Foles-led wins on top of each other they'll put themselves in a great spot to win the East when Carson Wentz returns.
The Eagles will be on the road this week for the first time, traveling to Tampa Bay to play the 1-0 Buccaneers. The Bucs pulled the upset of the weekend last week, defeating New Orleans 48-40. It's hard to imagine that "Fitzmagic" continuing against the vaunted Eagles defense, though.
Philly is a three point road favorite against Tampa Bay this Sunday.
My "sleeper" team in the NFC East, and pick to finish second in the division, looked rather impressive in their week one drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, Arizona isn't a very good team, and will probably be picking top 5 in the draft next April. Still, it was a good showing for the Redskins to open the season.
Washington got Adrian Peterson going on the ground for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Thompson helped keep them on schedule offensively as well. Washington hasn't been talked about much this offseason, but is sitting at 1-0 with a game against the 0-1 Colts on the horizon.
Washington is a 6 point favorite against Indianapolis this Sunday, and has a good chance of starting 2-0 on the year.
New York Giants
Though we are just one week into the 2018 regular season, an important matchup is brewing within the NFC East. After falling to 0-1 with a home loss in their season opener, the Giants will travel to Texas to face the Cowboys on Sunday night football this week.
With both teams sitting at 0-1, neither can afford to put themselves into a nearly-insurmountable hole with a second straight loss. Since the merger 90% of teams who fall to 0-2 fail to make the playoffs, and it would be back-to-back seasons of missing out for both the Cowboys and Giants.
New York is a three point road underdog on Sunday, and it seems like most of the football world is leaning towards them and their weapons coming away with the victory.
Either way, this game will have massive implications on the 2018 season.
Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?
En lo que fue una de las actuaciones más decepcionantes de la semana 1, los Dallas Cowboys no fueron capaces de avanzar en la ofensiva más que en una serie en la que anotaron un touchdown y una conversión de dos puntos. Fue un juego en el que nada funcionó más que la defensiva, la cual limitó a Cam Newton y compañía a sólo 16 puntos en un partido que pareció parejo, pero realmente no lo fue.
Ahora, antes de que los Cowboys jueguen su primer partido divisional del año contra los New York Giants, los aficionados del America's Team se preguntan ¿qué sigue para la ofensiva de los Dallas Cowboys? La ofensiva que tanto prometía hace un par de años, cuando Ezekiel Elliott y Dak Prescott lideraron a su equipo al primer sembrado de la NFC como novatos.
No se puede culpar a una sola persona por lo que sucedió el domingo pasado. La actuación fue tan deficiente que se tiene que señalar todo lo que falló. En primera instancia, hablemos del pésimo plan ofensivo de parte del coordinador de esta ofensiva, Scott Linehan.
Si algo hemos escuchado decir una y otra vez acerca de la ofensiva de Dak Prescott y los Cowboys es que es una sencilla, pero una difícil de vencer. Naturalmente, eso ha cambiado los últimos dos años. Esta ofensiva ya no debería de ser la misma que tomó a la liga por sorpresa en el 2016, no obstante, lo es.
En varias ocasiones, los Panthers no tuvieron ningún problema "telegrafiando" las jugadas de los Cowboys en cuanto sacaban el balón, resaltando la poca creatividad en la ofensiva de Linehan. Peor aún, en los momentos en los que se podría decir que fue creativo, lo fue en un mal sentido. Después de firmar y obtener a tantos receptores talentosos (que a pesar de no tener un claro #1, hay mucha profundidad), Dallas se alineó con dos tight ends en formaciones con cinco jugadores abiertos. ¿Por qué?
Esto le dio muy pocas oportunidades a Dak Prescott, quien hizo el problema más grande. Cuando tuvo esas pocas ventanas para lanzar profundo, la puntería del QB les costó bastantes series a los Cowboys. La más notable de estas, un pase profundo en la que el TE Blake Jarwin se había desmarcado y pudo haber llegado muy lejos, incluso quizá a la zona de anotación. En cambio, Prescott apenas llegó el balón a sus pies.
Sin embargo, la puntería profunda de Prescott es la menor de mis preocupaciones. Siempre hemos sabido que no es un Aaron Rodgers ni un Tom Brady. Lo que más me sorprende es la falta de calma de Dak. Siempre se le respetó por eso como novato, pero ahora se ve incomodó en el bolsillo, algo que tiene que cambiar inmediatamente puesto que era una de sus fortalezas.
Finalmente, la línea ofensiva, que se supone es una de las unidades más fuertes del equipo, se vio mal. La'el Collins y Tyron Smiths fueron responsables de múltiples castigos de holding, que terminaron matando series ofensivas. Connor Williams tuvo un debut bastante complicado contra el DT Kawann Short. Joe Looney, a pesar de ser un backup, se vio bien.
La pregunta de muchos es, ¿habrá cambios?
La respuesta a corto plazo es un rotundo no. Nada cambiará en el equipo de coaches ni en la posición de quarterback durante este inicio de la campaña 2018. Sin embargo, si el equipo continua perdiendo y se llega a topar con un récord muy perdedor en la semana 8 o 9, preparémonos.
Comenzaré diciendo que el primer cambio que considero más probable es en la posición de coordinador ofensivo. Si bien Dak puede resultar no ser el mariscal franquicia que tantos queríamos, ¿no vale la pena verlo jugar bajo el mando de otro coordinador? Un coordinador que lo ponga en una mejor posición para tener éxito y que se encargue de reducir el aparente miedo que hay a la hora de lanzar a lo largo. Eso sería ideal para el desarrollo de Dak, si es que llega a haber cambios.
Lo mismo para Jason Garrett, quien para mantenerse vivo debe voltear el rumbo de su equipo ya que lo que vimos en la primera semana fue desastroso. Garrett podría estar en peligro si las cosas no cambian pronto, sobre todo considerando la presencia de alguien como el coach de la secundaria defensiva, Kris Richard.
Finalmente, hablemos de lo que le espera a Dak Prescott.
Si Dak no corrige su manera de jugar y continua actuando como lo hizo la primera semana, habrá problemas en su futuro. Considerando que una extensión de contrato se avecina, Dak tiene que demostrar que puede tomar ese siguiente paso. Esperemos que lo logre, porque al final de cuentas, esperamos que todos en el equipo mejoren, pero ¿qué pasa si no es así?
Un juego no es suficiente para quitarle el trabajo, pero una mala temporada podría serlo. Ya sea por agencia libre o por medio del NFL Draft, los Cowboys podrían estar buscando alternativas si Prescott continua con este nivel todo el año.
Personalmente, tengo fe en Prescott. Creo que a pesar de que no será un MVP que cargará al equipo a la gloria, puede hacerlo con un buen apoyo. Y francamente, creo que Dallas tiene justo eso. Simplemente hay que ejecutar. Puede ser la parte más difícil de todas, pero hay mucho talento en el roster como para ser limitados a ocho puntos.
Las primeras impresiones son duraderas, pero no siempre son ciertas. Esperemos que el equipo encuentre una manera de darle la vuelta al barco cuando se enfrenten a los Giants este domingo en el NBC Sunday Night Football que se transmitirá en ESPN 2 en México.
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