Are you excited or disappointed in Hard Knocks?
Do you think the Cowboys being featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” will put too much pressure or scrutiny on them to make it to the playoffs (or deep into the playoffs)? The two times Dallas was on the show their record was 5-11 and 9-7. Or does it just go with the territory?— JAMES JORDAN / CONVERSE, TX
David: Honestly, I think it’s just par for the course. There’s pressure and scrutiny on this team seven days a week, 365 days a year. The quarterback just signed a $160 million contract that’s going to make him the most scrutinized player in the league. What difference are a few extra HBO cameras going to make? The bottom line is that playing for the Dallas Cowboys comes with a spotlight that never goes away. It might be annoying, but I don’t think filming “Hard Knocks” for a few weeks is going to make a huge difference.
Nick: Too much pressure or scrutiny for the Cowboys? Is that a thing? I think you said it best at the end - yes it goes with the territory. The NFL knows the Cowboys will sell and that’s why they want them on Hard Knocks. Whether or not you believe the guy at ESPN who claims to hate the Cowboys and their fans, he really knows what sells and that’s why he talks about them. So yes, it goes with the territory or as Jason Garrett would say, “it comes with the dinner.” I would say there’s probably some truth in the fact that most teams on Hard Knocks don’t have great seasons. For the Cowboys, those two years, I would say it came down to the quarterback. Either the starting QB got hurt and missed three crucial games in 2008 or the two guys that started in 2002 weren’t very good and that’s why the teams missed the playoffs. But without a doubt, Hard Knocks puts another target on the Cowboys’ backs for this year. But what else is new?
Camp season is upon us.
It is now less than a week until the first Dallas Cowboys 2021 training camp practice in Oxnard. The most interesting part of camp is usually trying to figure out the bottom of the roster. We all know most of the names that will be on the initial 53-man list, barring health issues. This year, there are also a lot of depth chart questions to watch, particularly on defense. This is a particularly fascinating year to see who is lining up with the ones and twos for Dan Quinn. There are not nearly as many questions on offense, where the biggest decisions will probably revolve around how many to carry at each position.
Here are some things that should be especially fun to watch.
Current thinking is that Garrett Gilbert has the inside track here, but it is also hard to imagine that is firm. Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci will be making their own cases. This is where the preseason games will be crucial, given that Dak Prescott may not see a single snap in those meaningless contests. Will Gilbert be the starter in his stead, or could the staff rotate the contenders to give them a chance to work with better players around them? Of course, “better” is probably a very relative term. The offensive starters will also spend most of the preseason on the sidelines. With so many coming back from IR, the staff should be very risk averse.
Camp practices will also give us some indications, especially if Prescott is given some rest days. That seems a reasonable assumption. This should at least allow the backups to have some work with the top receivers, which could be very telling.
How the Cowboys could have gone about the 2021 draft differently.
Round 4, Pick 138
Actual pick: Josh Ball, OT, Marshall | Who I would have taken: Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State
With Slater already filling the role of future swing tackle, I wouldn’t have felt the need to grab an offensive tackle like Josh Ball here in the fourth round. Therefore, I would have decided to take Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade.
Coming into the 2020 season, Wade was viewed as a first-round lock; however, switching from the slot to outside cornerback in the Buckeyes defense proved to be disastrous for Wade’s draft slot, causing him to fall all the way to Round 4 despite his previous accomplishments.
Talk all you want about Wade’s struggles on the outside in 2020, but he was one of college football’s best slot defenders in 2019 for the Buckeyes defense — one that is schematically similar to Quinn’s defense historically — in addition to having one of the better size/athleticism combinations (6-foot and 192 pounds with 33 1/2-inch arms to go along with a 4.46 40-yard dash, 37 1/2-inch vertical and 10-foot-3 broad jump) in the entire defensive back class. I also think Wade has the playstyle, skillset and temperament to slide over to safety if need be as well.
That’s exactly the kind of gamble that I’d love to take in the late fourth round.
Micah Parsons could have a few different roles on defense.
“This is where I wanted to go. I wanted to be in blue.”
That sentence Micah Parsons said moments after he was taken with the 10th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys last April made him an early fan favorite.
He may not have been the popular choice amongst Cowboys fans before the draft as many fans were hoping Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II would become a Cowboy, but he is an incredibly talented linebacker that should make the team better.
Surtain II was an obvious fit because he filled a big need at corner and he had all the tools to be a Pro Bowler in the league, but the Broncos selected him one spot ahead of the Cowboys at 9. Instead, the team chose Parsons despite having two prolific linebackers already in tow: Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
Will vaccine thresholds impact training camp or the 2021 season at all?
The summer desert is almost over. The Dallas Cowboys will report to training camp in less than a week’s time, and all will finally be right with the world. Sort of. Part of the NFL’s push to have full activities for all of their clubs is a push to have all of their clubs meet a vaccination threshold.
Monday, the league reported seven of the 32 clubs have met the 85% vaccination threshold (that number is now up to 10). According to USA Today’s Jori Epstein, the Cowboys may not be one of them, and aren’t expected to be by time they leave Texas for Oxnard, CA. Unless they’ve had a rash of vaccinations (no pun intended) in the last four days, they will not be functioning under relaxed protocols once they arrive.
As has just been witnessed by the postponing of the second-half kickoff MLB game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, COVID-19 infections within pro teams are still a thing. Aaron Judge was among six positive tests, and he is only two days removed from the All-Star game in Colorado. Washington Wizards’ guard Bradley Beal just saw his dreams of competing in the Olympics dashed as well.
In the NFL, teams which reach the 85% vaccination threshold have extremely lessened restrictions on how they can move and operate. The details, just like who and who isn’t vaccinated, are sketchy, but baseball’s threshold included things like being able to eat out on the road, locker room proximity and being maskless in shared spaces.
The Cowboys second-round pick has an opportunity to start this season, but he will have to work to get it.
The Dallas Cowboys had their eyes set on either Patrick Surtain or Jaycee Horn in the NFL Draft to pair with Trevon Diggs to form a starting duo at cornerback for the foreseeable. Once both went off the board just before the 10th overall pick, the Cowboys hit the reset button at the cornerback position.
It didn’t take long for them to bring in a promising young talent. With the 44th pick in the second round, the Cowboys selected Kelvin Joseph out of Kentucky. Joseph is a first-round caliber player, but questions about his commitment to the game allowed him to slide down draft boards. He has all the God-given ability to be an effective cornerback in the NFL, but his road to being a starter in Dallas will have some challenges.
The first speed bump on this journey is the lack of time on the field Joseph has seen so far. He missed a portion of OTAs due to a 10-day quarantine. He was cleared for minicamp but reportedly didn’t show up in the best shape. He vowed to be ready once training camp commences next week. However, it’s not the ideal start for the rookie.
Another obstacle in Joseph’s way was drafted one round after he heard his name called, Nahshon Wright. Although he was a much-maligned selection at the time being, Wright hit the ground running in OTAs and minicamp and looked far more impressive than Joseph. At 6’4, Wright moves very fluently, more like a 5’10-6’0 guy. Also, he has 4.4 speed which makes him a very intriguing player, and one Joseph won’t have an easy time surpassing.
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