Hard Knock’s Episode-1 Reflections

Hard Knock’s Episode-1 Reflections

The great thing about Hard Knocks is it really shows the human side of being a football player. Those of us that have played or coached the game really understand the mental and physical toll of the sport. Hard knocks opens our eyes to the reality of being a professional football player. The show does a great job of humanizing the individual under the pads and helmet. This year the Dallas Cowboys are featured for the 3rd time. Here are my 14 points on the show!

Scars mental and physical. The show opens with Dak Prescott, QB discussing all of his mental and physical scars throughout life, culminating in the gruesome ankle injury he suffered last year. Watching Dak play over the years, and listening to him during media interviews, you get a sense for the kind of individual he is. He is even keel, focused on football and grounded. The first episode of Hard Knocks confirms that observation.

The fans are back!

Zeke. He looks great in helmet and shorts. Zeke showed off his speed, hands and joy for the game. He looked even better in shoulder pads. This week’s clips make him look like the feature player for the offense.

Micah Parsons. He is clearly excited to be a Cowboy. Micah Parsons is full of energy. He is s very fast. Parsons is still a rookie though. During one practice, he let a TD go, but the next play he gets an INT. During the game, they gave him play calling responsibilities. I think that bodes well. Coach Quinn already trusts him to run the defense, get the alignment set and to execute. Parsons played well. But remember, its pre-season ball.

The Teacher. We saw Dan Quinn spending time with the rookie, Micah Parsons. He coached Parsons up, teaching him how to attack the play he lost. During the game, Coach Quinn spent time coaching Parsons on what he needs to improve on. Coach Quinn is calm and encouraging when talking to Micah individually. When talking to the team, Coach Quinn amps up the energy.

Load management. Dak & Zeke. Before the shoulder injury, Coach McCarthy was limiting Dak’s reps to ease him and his ankle back into the swing of things. Coach McCarthy was also concerned about Zeke’s wear and tear. I think these are wise precautions given the investment the Cowboys have in these two players.

Coach McCarthy – I found it interesting that Coach McCarthy asked the opinion of the Vice President of Player Personnel if he was ok with limiting Zeke’s practice reps while on the practice field. I am not sure that is the best place to have that conversation. Nor do I believe it’s the best time to have that conversation. How you treat a player on the team is a discussion behind closed doors between the coaches. Then the HC informs the suits what is going to happen. Clearly the suits for the Cowboys still believe in micro-management, otherwise Coach McCarthy isn’t having that conversation on the field during practice.

Cee Dee Lamb – Smiles, chirps and is smooth with his routes and hands. Expect more out of him this year. He seems to be the young player on office that brings the juice to get the team going. That is extremely important for a football team. He will be a key component to the Cowboy’s success in the years to come.

Jerry Jones – He really wants another Championship. He is excited to have the team back on the field and to have the fans involved and available to watch. We saw a few things with Jerry in this episode. We saw his emotional side. We also saw a leader in action talking to the trainer about Dak’s shoulder situation. I am no Cowboys fan, but it would not bother me to see the Cowboys get another Super Bowl for Jerry.

A New Problem. It is Dak’s first practice in pads and he already has an issue with his throwing shoulder. He is unable to follow through on his throws. The team trainer reached out to several baseball clubs to help understand the injury and how to treat it. Time will tell if this will be a lingering issue limiting the Cowboy’s chances of success this year.

Best Friends – Zeke and Dak are close and have been since they were drafted together.

We got a lesson in vesictimys.

Mojo Moment – “When It’s time for Additional Confidence, Charisma & Performance.” “No matter the time, the place the situation, kick in your MOJO.” Coaches always come up with a schtick to help motivate the team to do their best. Coach McCarthy has chosen Mogo Moment as his. He uses this to help emphasize the importance of situational football as well as responding to momentum changes in the game. Coach McCarthy springs it on either the offense or the defense at different points of the practice because you never know when a mojo moment might be needed. The team responded well to this coaching technique.

Win the pre snap, win the post snap. What does that mean? When the QB comes to the line of scrimmage he must read the defense pre-snap. However, he is not the only person reading the defense. The wide receivers are looking at the shade of the corner. The running backs are looking at the alignment of the defensive lineman and the linebackers. The lineman are also paying attention to the front 7 alignment. Post snap, things can change lightening quick in the NFL. The defense can show you one thing and do something else. You think a safety is crashing down on the blitz, then instead of continuing his rush, he sits down in the hook to curl zone and if the QB doesn’t catch it he might just throw an INT. That is winning the pre-snap and the post snap.

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