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Week 12 Rookie Review: No Turnovers Key to Thanksgiving Victory

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Zeke Elliott

Every week we’ll be looking at the Cowboys drafted rookies and seeing what impact, if any, they had on the previous game. At the end we’ll name a “Rookie of the Week” for the standout performer.

Here’s a summary of the performances and statuses from all nine of the Cowboys drafted rookies after the Week 12 victory over Washington:

Cowboys Headlines - Week 12 Rookie Review: No Turnovers Key to Thanksgiving VictoryEzekiel Elliott, RB

Elliott had a solid day; 97 yards and two scores on 20 carries. It says a lot about the kid that we’re now disappointed if he doesn’t crack 100 yards. He did have 23 receiving yards, though, to improve his total.

In Week 2, Elliott had two fumbles in the first game against Washington. He has only put the ball on the ground once since then. Despite playing with as much aggression as possible, Elliott has protected the ball and clearly learned a lesson in his second professional game.

 

Jaylon Smith, LB

Smith has two more weeks to practice before he either has to join the 53-man roster or be placed on Injured Reserve. There is no indication at this time

 

Maliek Collins, DT

Collins had two tackles and helped limit Washington’s runners to just a 2.9 average. However, the story of this game was the lack of pressure on Kirk Cousins and Collins played a part in that also. His two-sack performance in Cleveland is looking like an aberration, unfortunately.

Charles Tapper, DE

Tapper went on Injured Reserve in Week 4 due to back issues. He was inactive the three games before that, making this a redshirt season for the fourth-round pick.

Cowboys Headlines - Week 12 Rookie Review: No Turnovers Key to Thanksgiving Victory 1Dak Prescott, QB

It was a quiet day for Prescott; just 195 yards and one touchdown through the air.  He did have a career-high with 39 rushing yards and another score running, though. The key, as we’ll expound on at the end of this article, was the lack of turnovers.

One of the best things I saw in this game was the newfound chemistry between Dak and Dez Bryant. In Weeks 1-3, Bryant only had 11 catches on 23 targets (48%). Over the last three games, it’s improved to 17 catches on 24 targets (71%). That improving rapport will be invaluable in the postseason.

 

Anthony Brown, CB

Brown had seven tackles and a pass deflection, but it was a rough day overall for the pass defense.  Though part of this was strategic after building a lead, Dallas gave up a whopping 449 passing yards and three touchdowns to Kirk Cousins.

To his credit, Brown was not noticeably attacked. He’s been targeted in past weeks by other opponents, but it appeared that Washington was going after Brandon Carr more. Like his fellow rookies on offense, Brown is exceeding expectations.

Kavon Frazier, S

For what I think is the first time all season, I finally saw Frazier on the field. Not only was he credit with a tackle, but you saw him flying in to help Anthony Brown defend a pass in the endzone. Frazier was able to get some playing time after J.J. Wilcox left with a thigh injury.

Darius Jackson, RB

Having yet to dress this season, it appears Jackson’s only shot at playing this year will be if Dallas has nothing to play for in one of the final regular season games. There is also the chance he could be released to make room for Darren McFadden.

Rico Gathers, TE

Gathers is still on the team’s practice squad; the only drafted player to not make the 53-man roster this season.

~~~

Dak and Zeke didn’t have any turnovers. Given the drop in overall offensive production from both, and just a five-point win, this was a critical factor. Considering his larger role in things, I have to give the Rookie of the Week to…

Dak Prescott

Dak PrescottOne turnover could’ve given this Washington this game. Given that he touches the ball on every play, I have to give the nod to Prescott for avoiding them.

In all of the debating about Prescott and Tony Romo for the starting job, Romo’s potential for costly interceptions wasn’t brought up much. I think this was to show Tony a little respect and perhaps due to some selective memories. But there is no denying that Prescott plays a safer brand of football than Romo, and in a game like this one that just might have been the difference between a win and a loss.

Prescott doesn’t ever look like he’s pressing the issue. Even when his team is backed up from a penalty or sack, he just keep executing without forcing throws. Tony Romo did some amazing things as our QB, but his play-making came with a price. Trying to make something out of nothing doesn’t always go your way.

For this team with its struggling defense, Prescott’s lack of turnovers has been critical to keeping offenses backed up and having to drive the field. His style of play is best for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys, and this win validated it.

Previous ROTW Winners

Week 11 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 10 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 9 – DT Maliek Collins
Week 8 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 6 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 5 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 4 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 3 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 2 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 1 – QB Dak Prescott

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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