For Dallas Cowboys fans who are hungry for some football, the news that the team will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks is welcome. It is does have to be admitted it is edited to try and create storylines and sometimes drama. Still, there is no other thing that gives us this kind of look into the team during training camp and preseason. And in one particular area, we can hope to gain some insight. That is how the coaches and staff operate and run things, interact with the players and each other, and make decisions along the way to the final roster cuts.
It is also worth noting that this will be the third time HBO has featured the Cowboys, more than any other since they took over the series. That is a nod to how big a draw Dallas is. It unfortunately also reflects how the team has missed the playoffs in the past two seasons, one of the requirements to be chosen. On a positive note, the press release from HBO mentioned that 10 of the last 12 teams they covered improved their record over the previous year. That would certainly be welcome, even with no actual causal link involved.
While fans eat this stuff up, the staff is usually not nearly as enthusiastic, since coaches often want to keep everything close to their vests. However, owner, GM, and quote machine Jerry Jones is another big reason to want to have the Cowboys on this program.
So what can we hope to see outside of hoping for new Jerryisms?
Dan Quinn is likely the coach most want to see get a lot of screen time. He faces the vital task of improving what was an often dysfunctional defense last year. Additionally, he has already established a reputation for being very hands-on with his coaching/teaching style. So far, the players have responded very positively, and it will be interesting to see how that looks on the practice field. Don’t expect to get a lot of information about things like 3-4 vs 4-3, or how the designated pass rusher concept will fit in his scheme, but it may be telling to see how he treats certain players. We might find out who is moving up or down the depth chart.
Mike McCarthy is under a lot of scrutiny after his unsuccessful debut last season. While the talk about him being on a hot seat is probably very overblown, this is also an opportunity to try and get a gauge on his relationship with his roster, his assistants, and his bosses. Culture is another important facet of the head coach’s job, and Hard Knocks can provide some insight into that, if at times distorted by the desire to make this entertaining more than informative.
One you may not think of right away is special team coordinator John Fassel. He seems to have a colorful reputation which could get him some air time. And if you remember when the Cowboys were on Amazon’s All or Nothing, it was a bit of a shock to find out just how, shall we say, expressive Jason Garrett was, which was very much at odds with the buttoned-down image he projected in front of the media. The writers who covered team practices knew the truth, but for most, it was rather shocking to hear all those F-bombs dropped. I have my money on Fassel to provide a dose of that, but he is almost certainly not going to be the only one.
Overall, it’s hoped the cameras get to cover some of the meetings, both with players and among the staff. The inner workings of the team have always been a special source of fascination, especially how Jerry Jones seeks to build consensus for most major decisions. Hopefully, we’ll get some glimpses into that.
And one more thing. If they show crowd shots during the episode after I am in Oxnard (July 31st to August 3rd), you may just see me repping in a Blogging the Boys T-shirt. Just sayin’.
We discussed the Cowboys appearing on Hard Knocks this season in the latest video on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Make sure to subscribe to the channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of the videos that we put out!