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I love Thanksgiving.
Stereotypical Thanksgivings involve the three F's: Food, Family, & Football. I'm fortunate enough that my experience on this national holiday involves that beautiful tripod, but if I'm being honest I feel like Thanksgiving gets ripped off a bit.
There are literally hundreds of Christmas movies... how many Thanksgiving movies are there?! Name one! I dare you!
I know of an incredible Thanksgiving movie. It revolves around Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade and a wide-eyed boy named Charlie. The two galavant around New York City while Charlie's mind is back at his prep school where he's being charged with damaging the headmaster's prized car (Spoiler Alert: Charlie merely witnessed the crime... but this movie is 24 years old so who's fault is this really?).
After the NYC adventure the Lieutenant Colonel (played by Al Pacino) and Charlie return to his school for his hearing. Al Pacino gives one of the finest speeches in cinematic history (which you can watch here) where he discusses integrity, courage, and overall boldness. Charlie is acquitted and Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade - upon initially hearing the news - lets out a "Hooah!" shortly before the crowd erupts. It is supremely epic.
This movie, particularly Al Pacino's speech near the end, summarizes the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season up to this point - Thanksgiving. In the face of many doubts, with twists and turns at every point, an unforeseen set of circumstances before them, despite zero recognition from afar... they have prevailed.
The Washington Redskins represent the chance for our "Hooah!" moment. This is our opportunity, in front of the entire world, to put an end to the silly narratives people come up with every week. This is a division rival, and it's the team that celebrated in our house during Week 17 last season as they marched towards the playoffs.
A win on Thanksgiving effectively eliminates the Redskins from NFC East title contention. Let's give that speech. Let's ruin their day. Let's eat some turkey. Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Hooah!
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Ezekiel Elliott Eats Everything On His Way To A Career Day
There is no bigger rivalry in the NFL than Cowboys and Redskins on Thanksgiving. This is a historic matchup, and when you throw in the fact that uniform-wise it'll be Cowboys blues against Redskins whites this looks like something shot by the legendary Steve Sabol back in the day.
Rivalries are being ignited all across the football landscape this week. College football famously showcases games of this nature the weekend after Thanksgiving, games like Michigan versus The Ohio State.
Last year when the Buckeyes and Wolverines squared off (November 28th, 2015) Zeke carried the ball 30 times for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns for tOSU. We're ten games into Elliott's professional career and he has yet to break 200 yards; however, we're talking about a player who's celebration is literally eating playing on a day where gorging out is supremely glorified. Zeke is going to put the Skins to sleep like tryptophan with 200 yards.
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DeMarcus Lawrence Gets To Kirk Cousins Twice... Again
There wasn't a whole lot to be proud of when it came to the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, but one thing we hung our hat on was a big win in Washington on Monday Night Football.
One of the instrumental pieces to that big victory was Cowboys Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence. He gave Kirk Cousins a hug-that-goes-to-the-ground twice that night, and considering DLaw didn't get to play when the Cowboys went to Washington in Week 2 due to his suspension... he's been itching for another opportunity to sack 'ol Kirky.
DeMarcus Lawrence strikes me as the type of fellow who eats his turkey and stuffing at the same time. He'll be doing that during this game when he munches on Mr. Cousins.
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Redskins RB Robert Kelley Fumbles And AT&T Stadium Chants "Cowgirls" As He Trots To The Sideline
So here's the thing about "trash talk." I have zero qualms with it, in fact I totally respect a well-crafted joke. If you're funny, you're funny. I'm good with that.
Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley was asked on Tuesday if he knew much about the historic rivalry that is Cowboys/Redskins. Kelley, fully conscious and of normal brain function, responded that they hated "those Cowgirls." Yes, seriously.
Robert Kelley is a 24-year old man who plays professional football. He thought this was funny or clever or who knows what. The fact that Mr. Kelley thought that this was anything above a middle school-level insult is honestly shocking and makes me sad for the human race.
The most clever Washington Redskin there is, Robert Kelley, is going to fumble on Thanksgiving, and he's going to learn even more about this rivalry when he trots back to the bench. You see long ago when former Redskins QB Joe Theismann threw an interception at Texas Stadium on his birthday, the Cowboys faithful greeted him with a gleeful rendition of "Happy Birthday" on his miserable trot to the sidelines.
Welcome to the rivalry, Robert.
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Both Jason Garrett And Jay Gruden Go For Crucial 4th Downs
The longest-tenured Head Coaches in the NFL's most storied division will be standing on opposite sidelines when the toe meets the ball at AT&T Stadium this Thanksgiving.
Jason Garrett and Jay Gruden are not only the longest-tenured coaches in the NFC East, they're the only two who have won the division before. Plus these are two guys that aren't afraid to take a risk now and then.
We've seen both Garrett and Gruden attempt, and succeed, to convert critical 4th Downs when games have been on the line this season. This is unquestionably the biggest game of the season for both teams, and the Head Coaches are going to act like it. We'll see them both get a little frisky before it's all said and done.
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Ezekiel Elliott Hurdles Josh Norman
I realize that we already have a Bold Prediction centered around Zeke, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving/Zeke we're serving seconds! Hooah!
Look, the worst game of Zeke's short NFL career happened in Washington. He lost the ball twice and looked to have let the pressure of the game take over him. Zeke was even benched for former Redskin Alfred Morris who had to ice the game for the Cowboys.
Perhaps the lowest moment in that game for Zeke was when Josh Norman went Peanut Tillman on him and punched the football out for a fumble. Since then we've watched Zeke eat everything and destroy everyone... Norman is next.
Zeke is going to hit the open field, scan around, see Norman, and get airborne. It'll be one of the rare moments of the game that brings us to our feet - we're gonna be weighed down with turkey after all - and Norman will find a way to blame it on Robert Kelley.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #1
Remember, if you want YOUR Bold Prediction featured here, tweet it at me! It’s that simple! Here are this week’s contributions, thanks to all those who shared!
We have a bold prediction for @rjochoa this week! The winner of the Cowboys Thanksgiving game will win by at least 17 points. #DallasCowboys
Upon Further Review is hosted by my fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin, and he's a smart cookie. The Cowboys have only won one game by this wide of a margin (Cleveland) and the Redskins have lost just as many (Pittsburgh). The final score when they squared off in Week 2 was 27-23... I like the optimism, it just doesn't seem likely.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #2
This is a Disney movie that's pretty far off from coming true at this point. We're in a post-Romo world. This is "A.D." time - After Dak.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #3
@rjochoa @InsideTheStarDC My bold prediction is that the vaunted Redskins D will limit Elliott to less than 200 yards rushing. #FEEDZEKE
This bold prediction directly contradicts mine, so someone here is going to be right! I'd hardly describe the Redskins Run Defense as vaunted considering they've given up the 11th most yards with only the 25th most carries against them. Eat Zeke, eat.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #4
@rjochoa bold predictions: Alfred Morris scores against the skins and zeke has a huge day that leads to player of game turkey day honors
Chase is buying what we're selling as far as Zeke having a big game, and I like the Alfred Morris call! As we mentioned earlier, The Butler did have a touchdown when he visited his former team with his new/better one. Revenge game!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #5
@rjochoa Kirk will go deep often vs DAL and you just know it's happening: 1st pick for Byron onthanksgiving vs Redskins. ✭ #BOLDPrediction
I love this, and it pains me that I love it.
We've called for Byron Jones' first career interception week after week. I want it. I need it. MAKE IT A THANKSGIVING MIRACLE!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #6
Donny and I usually park our cars in the same garage when it comes to these Bold Predictions, and sure enough we are in sync again.
Zeke is getting 200. Book it.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #7
@rjochoa my prediction Jeff Heath will have a int.. Morris will have a TD
Jeff Heath is the greatest football player in the history of the universe. He had two interceptions when the Cowboys traveled to Tampa Bay last season. If mere mortals can have one, Heath will of course do it. Additionally, the Alfred TD is obviously a popular opinion this week. It's also happening.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving one and all, Hooah to you and yours! Go Cowboys!
Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe
The Dallas Cowboys didn't look like they did during their five game winning streak when they entered Lucas Oil Stadium to face a hot Indianapolis Colts team. In fact, they had one of their poorest showings of all season, failing to score a single point all game. Heading home after being shutout 23-0, there isn't much to be said about the Cowboys' performance.
Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday. This time, instead of talking about many takeaways, I needed to get one big takeaway off my chest. I hope you enjoy. Make sure to let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL.
Scott Linehan's Job Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Going into the Playoffs
As tough as it is to fire one of your three main coaches when your team is headed into the postseason, the Dallas Cowboys should not rule out moving on from Scott Linehan. One win away from clinching the NFC East, it's not something you easily pull off but Linehan's play calling has been terrible all year long.
The truth is, despite Dak Prescott's struggles and a disastrous offensive line, the offense shouldn't be as inefficient as it is.
Watching a unit that counts with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott run a screen pass to Allen Hurns on fourth down and 14 was truly a microcosm of what this year has been for the offense.
Despite having a playoff berth practically clinched, the Cowboys should consider a change at offensive coordinator. Even if they don't fire Linehan, it's clear his play-calling is not good and could cost this team a real opportunity at a legit shot in the postseason. It would be an aggressive measure, without a doubt. The Minnesota Vikings did something similar by firing John DeFillippo a week ago. Based on their 41-17 win over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, being aggressive sometimes pays.
The Cowboys have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott and yet they continue to misuse him. Whether it's turning their backs on their star tailback or over-using him, this offense has a hard time reaching balance. Dak Prescott's strengths could be exploited even more, but this OC refuses to do so.
As hard as it is to make a drastic change in coaching two weeks before the regular season ends, it truly could end up being a great move by the front office. Sure, Amari Cooper has had monster games since joining the Cowboys, but he could be even more dangerous under another coach.
Cowboys versus Colts was a coaching battle between Scott Linehan and former Dallas Cowboys LB coach, Matt Eberflus. It was the matchup of the week, and one we expected to be fun. Instead, we saw one side completely dominate the other. In the NFL, coaching matters. Probably even more than talent on a roster.
The biggest problem would be, who'd take over play-calling?
Since there isn't a promising candidate within the team, the team's only option would probably be letting HC Jason Garrett take over. It may not be ideal, but it could end up being an improvement over Linehan. Of course, it could also let the front office see what Garrett has to offer as a play caller and consider that when deciding how this coaching staff will look like in 2019.
It's unlikely that we see such a thing occur for the Cowboys, but if the offense has another letdown game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I don't see how the front office doesn't at least consider this. They should.
Ezekiel Elliott Productive in Cowboys Blowout Loss to Colts
It was as ugly of a performance as we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys in the Jason Garrett era. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Cowboys were shut out and it was a game full of bad pretty much everywhere you looked. Everywhere accept Ezekiel Elliott.
What a waste!
Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played well for much of the game even with All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin missing his first career start and losing starting Left Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo went out with an eye injury.
On the day, Ezekiel Elliott carries the ball 18 times for 87 yards and added another seven receptions for 41. 25 touches for 128 total yards is a good game, but with nothing else going right for the Cowboys it was a game that ultimately didn’t matter.
The one play where Elliott and the offensive line failed to come through was early in the game in a fourth and one that the Colts defense seemed to have snuffed out and blew up from the start. Elliott was able to convert a fourth and one later in the game. It looked like Elliott was close to breaking one for a long run several times but got tripped up at the end of the runs. He was his typical self this week. Taking runs that looked to be going for a loss and turning them into positive gains.
In the race for the NFL's rushing title, Elliott has extended his lead on Todd Gurley to nearly 100 yards rushing. At 1,349 rushing yards on the season, Elliott will have a great shot to set a career high in rushing yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants remaining on the schedule. The Bucs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season while the Giants have allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the seventh most rushing touchdowns in 2018.
It was a horrendous loss at a time when the Cowboys could have locked up the NFC East and there is zero excuse for it. They got out coached, out played, and were beaten physically on both sides of the ball and that doesn't happen very often, especially to the defense.
But if we're looking for something positive to take away from this game, it's that with all the offensive line injuries and the poor play of the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game continues to find ways to shine. With as bad as the loss was, that's something to hang your hat on.
All the Cowboys need to do moving forward is Feed Zeke!
Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts
What is there to say about the Dallas Cowboys week 15 performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.
Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.
The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this defense like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Running Back Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys running game wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, Quarterback Dak Prescott stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.
Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.
- The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith both playing one of their worst games of the season.
The Colts took a blocked Brett Maher field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.
Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with Sean Lee being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.
- Jamize Olawale's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game.
This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari Cooper rush that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.
A year removed from coaching the Cowboys linebackers, Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus had his way with Scott Linehan's offense all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.
- The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a Joe Looney holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard.
The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured Cole Beasley for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys red zone offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.
The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of Adam Redmond to his left, who replaced Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Connor Williams in for Zack Martin - though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.
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The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the NFC East and focus on improvements for the playoffs.
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