The HBO series Hard Knocks will feature America’s Team, aka the Dallas Cowboys, in 2021, and Cowboy Nation should be worried. To say that teams featured on Hard Knocks seem to be cursed is an understatement. That is one of three arguments I will present for why the Cowboys are in deep trouble just from appearing on this show.
#1: Hard Knocks Curse:
The combined record of teams who have appeared on Hard Knocks is 131-133-1. Dallas has a combined 14-18 record from their two appearances in 2002 and 2008. That would raise major red flags if I were a team that has struggled to consistently compete for a playoff berth since last winning the Super Bowl in 1996. Another red flag is the fact that only six of the 16 teams that appeared on the show had winning records. Oh and let’s not forget a grand total of four playoff appearances and three playoff wins for good measure.
I understand the entertainment side of the argument for putting this team on the show. They are coming off a season where they saw QB Dak Prescott go down with one of the ugliest ankles injuries I have ever witnessed and his return to the field could coincide with having to travel to face the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on opening night, but why not pick a team with a better record? For the moment, the requirements to be exempted from appearing on this show are as follows:
- They hired a first-year head coach.
- They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons.
- They have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years.
I still think it would be better to put the defending champs or even the Patriots on this show, but then again with the track record of how teams perform after this show, I would want no part of this process either. Despite that, it would be entertaining to watch how this team works under second-year head coach Mike McCarthy, who has a lot of work to do to improve his team’s 6-10 record. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, wait…
#2: Historically Bad Defense?
Dallas has ZERO chance of making it to the postseason dance in 2021 if they don’t see massive improvements on the defensive side of the ball. Being ranked 28th in points per game and allowing a whopping 437 points all year, most in franchise history was simply unacceptable. New DC Dan Quinn will need to duplicate his defensive strategies and techniques from his days coaching the Legion of Boom. What Dallas fans do not want to see is what happened to his defense in Super Bowl 51 or in that miracle 20 point comeback that Dak Prescott leads in week 4 last season in Jerry World. If his defense starts choking as the Falcons did in either of those games, his time as defensive coordinator may only last one season. That defense will be on full display to be criticized on Hard Knocks this summer and there will nowhere to hide. Until I see otherwise, I do not see this defense improving. Actions speak louder than words.
#3: The Dak’s Return
The Cowboys desperately need Dak Prescott back on the field to be successful. Dallas scored 32.6 PPG and finished with 381.4 YPG with him on the field in 2020. Those numbers dropped to 21.1 PPG and 204.9 YPG with all other signal-callers. There is only one word for that drop-off in statistics: alarming. However, non of that matters, because the type of injury Prescott is trying to come back from, is unpredictable. Just ask Alex Smith. I wish nothing but the best for Dak because he comes off as a very honest, down to earth and the inspiring player who has a bright future ahead of him.
From a football perspective, I want to see how his mobility has been affected by his recovery from surgery. That mobility has been a huge part of his game but only time will tell if it will be the same this season. With the injury history that has impacted pass protection in recent years, that mobility will be a storyline to watch. Don’t be surprised if you see a large dose of RB Ezekiel Elliott throughout the season to Dak get back into the swing of things.
Every season something goes wrong whether it is injury, play calling, or off the field issues for teams that end up on Hard Knocks. I would value taking a deep dive into how I improve my 6-10 Cowboys team over entertainment and the glare of a national spotlight, but that is not my decision. The uncertainty of Dak’s ankle and how to fix their defensive breakdowns will take center stage all season long. This leaves me with one last question: how will the Cowboys break their fans’ hearts this season?
By: Whitney Dowds CruelFan.com