Dallas Cowboys the Star of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ 2021: What to Look For and How Will It Affect the Team
NFL Films award-winning docuseries Hard Knocks has been presenting the daily routines of NFL teams during the preseason since 2001. Over the years, Hard Knocks has featured teams such as The Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, and more.
13 years after their last feature, the Dallas Cowboys are being featured once again in Hard Knocks. Previously, the team had appeared on the 2002 and 2008 seasons of the training camp documentary series.
How Will This Affect The Team?
The Dallas Cowboys are the first franchise to appear on Hard Knocks three times. And while many are excited to see what the Dallas Cowboys are like through the documentary series, many fans are also worried because of it.
Out of the sixteen teams featured on Hard Knocks so far, only six have made the playoffs in the season of their appearance — the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, Cincinnati Bengals in 2009 and 2013, New York Jets in 2010, Houston Texans in 2015, and Los Angeles Rams in 2020.
In both of their previous two appearances, the Dallas Cowboys failed to make it to the playoffs. And in the last six years, the Los Angeles Rams are the only team who appeared in Hard Knocks and made it to the playoffs.
Because of this, many fans have expressed concern for the Dallas Cowboys, especially since they had a disappointing and injury-filled 2020 season. There are also those who think that having a filming crew around when you are practicing can distract and negatively affect the athletes’ performance.
On the bright side, however, it’s worth noting that out of the past 12 teams that appeared on Hard Knocks, 10 have either secured the same number of wins or improved upon it compared to their previous season.
Football reporter Mike Tannenbaum, when talking to ESPN, explained that the filming crew might push the players to practice harder, thus getting better results.
With the eyes of the football world on you, players play better, they practice harder, it’s more competitive… In the late 1960s, Vince Lombardi… [said that] when he was coaching the Packers, he used to have cameraman film practice because he actually got better practices because the players knew they were being filmed.
What to Look Out For
The Hard Knocks candidates this season alongside Dallas Cowboys were the Broncos, Cardinals, Giants, and Panther. The documentary series goes for a different narrative every season depending on which team they are covering and the team’s previous season's performance.
With the Dallas Cowboys’ underperformance last year due to their star quarterback, Dak Prescott being absent because of his ankle injury, this season of Hard Knocks will probably focus on his recovery and return.
The team spent their first six picks on defensive players in the 2021 NFL Draft hoping to strengthen and improve on their overall performance.
Such being the case, we could also see the new members' process of integrating into the team alongside their coach Mike McCarthy, who joined last season.