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10 things we learned from the Cowboys season on “All or Nothing”

The revealing behind-the-scenes look at the Cowboys was very interesting.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys were the featured team on the third season of Amazon’s “All or Nothing” series. The season was released last Friday and all eight episodes are available for viewing. Over the last week, I watched them all and came away with these 10 observations.

  1. Jason Garrett is lot more demanding, and fiery, than people believe. We’ve heard the complaints; Garrett should tear into his team sometimes instead of standing on the sideline clapping or being a soulless robot in the media. All or Nothing disposes of that view entirely. Garrett gets on his team, he demands players do better, demands his coaches do better, demands that he does better. His language is ready-made for a Quentin Tarantino movie. On the sidelines he likes to be encouraging, or to tell his team to move on to the next play. But make no mistake, Garrett is a fiery coach and commands the respect of his team and his coaching staff.

You can watch an example here, with very NSFW language.

2. The Ezekiel Elliott saga bothered the player even more than we suspected. Elliott is kind of a quiet guy anyway, he’s not going to dominate the conversation. But when the suspension thing starting hanging over his head, he became even more withdrawn and seem to lose his fire. Only toward the end, once it was all over and he was able to return, did he seem to lighten up and enjoy the game and the team once again.

You can see some of that here, again NSFW language.

3. Jason Witten was the leader of this team. Don’t doubt it. That is all.

4. Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones, Charlotte Anderson Jones and Jerry Jones, Jr. are just like everyone else. Sure, they may be super-rich, and they may own one of the most valuable franchises in the world, and sometimes travel by helicopter or private plane. Still, watching them agonize, cheer and live-and-die with the accomplishments/failures of their children/grandchildren during their varsity/junior varsity football games reminds you that they do have emotions just like all of us, and they go through many of the same things we all do.

5. Dez Bryant dominated the receivers room, and his relationship with coach Derek Dooley wasn’t always smooth. There are a couple of conversations where Bryant and Dooley are clearly not on the same page, and there is also a conversation where Dooley tells Bryant his outbursts can feel aggressive, and scare people who don’t know him. There were also shots of Bryant yelling during the game, and people on the sidelines trying to ignore it. You got the feeling that All of Nothing had plenty of more footage of Bryant at odds with people but chose not to totally focus on that. But they did show...

6. A practice day feud between Bryant and Jourdan Lewis that was a little over the top. Bryant throws the ball at Lewis (not hard) after he makes a catch after they had been going back and forth a bit during practice. This set Lewis off who basically loudly challenges Dez, and this goes on back and forth for a while. Finally, after Lewis challenging Bryant to a one-on-one, Garrett obliges and Bryant gets the best of Lewis and throws the ball at him again, and things got so heated players had to step in. It was a brief glimpse into the conflicts that can arise on a football team, and it was followed by Bryant giving a long, rambling monologue to Kyle Valero in which he talks about his emotions and how he just loves the game so much. It was perhaps the most revealing moment in the whole series.

Check out the practice feud here, with the always NSFW warning.

Check out Dez Bryant speaking to Valero, same warning.

7. Sean Lee is the next thing to a coach the Cowboys have. You’ve heard people talk about Sean Lee acting as a coach all the way back to his days at Penn State. In All or Nothing, you see it come to life. Lee is seen running the film and discussing defenses in meetings and he holds a special session with just him and DeMarcus Lawrence. Then there is the scene with him at the end. The Cowboys season is over and Jason Garrett holds the last team meeting of the year. Afterward, it’s likely players went home, or to wherever they go on their free time, as that’s all they have now. Instead, Sean Lee is shown watching game film by himself in the linebackers meeting room. Unbelievable.

8. Dak Prescott should assume more of the leadership role now. In the series, you see Dak in the huddle taking charge, and he works hard and stays after practice playing accuracy games with Jason Garrett. But what you don’t see a lot of is him addressing the team in meetings or in the facility, things that guys like Witten and Orlando Scandrick do. It’s understandable, given that he’s only been there two seasons. Now is the time, especially with Witten leaving, for Prescott to take on a more aggressive role as the offensive leader.

9. The offensive line is a tight group. They have a weekly ritual of going out to dinner together and they seem to really enjoy each other’s company. It’s great to see them bond like that given how they really need to be in sync for the offense to work. Also, Joe Looney is the class clown.

10. You need to watch All or Nothing for no other reason than Rod Marinelli’s film clips. As part of his presentation to the defense each week, he includes some truly hilarious clips to explain whatever concept he wants to get across. If he wants his team to hit a certain player hard, he might include a clip of something like a bull knocking a matador out of the ring, or something like that. It is epic.

We didn’t learn a whole lot about strategy or game decisions or things like that, but we certainly got a close-up look at the personalities of the players, coaches and front-office. We got a glimpse of everyday life at the Star. There were also comic moments I didn’t get into above, like Dak and Cole Beasley discussing if dogs stretch, or Darren McFadden doing his impression of running backs coach Gary Brown. All in all, very entertaining.

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