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Division Links: It’s all gloom at BtB; BGN ponders whether Doug Pederson wants to get fired; BBV focused on ‘unique opportunity’

NFL: Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Blogging the Boys

Cowboys take more blows, still struggle to find answers

The win over the Vikings may have been the high point of the season. Thanksgiving was a new low.

After a brief flicker of hope following their win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys collided violently with harsh reality in their drubbing at the hands of the Washington Football Team. The brash hope that they could somehow claw their way to the NFC East title has taken a severe blow. What had briefly looked like workable solutions to the problems they had vanished in a performance that could hardly have been more dismal. We are back to Team Tank, at least for a week. That sucks. It is always more satisfying to cheer a team to victory. A high draft pick is cold comfort indeed.

Another undesirable aspect of the week following such a poor game is that the fingers are being pointed. Questions around the coaching staff being worthy of replacement have resumed.


Blogging the Boys

Five winners and five losers from the Cowboys embarrassing Thanksgiving Day loss

Loser: Ezekiel Elliott

What are we supposed to say at this point?

The fumbles are a huge issue, and there aren’t any aspects of Zeke’s game that are balancing out the moments that he is putting the ball on the turf. Ezekiel Elliott has had a struggle of a season (Jerry Jones saying he viewed Zeke as the best player on the team didn’t help matters) and he had another forgettable performance in a must-win game.

It’s unsettling.

Loser: CeeDee Lamb

Jaylon Smith did a great job of generating a turnover and giving the Dallas Cowboys the ball in scoring position. He took it down the Washington four-yard line.

But then the Dallas Cowboys happened. Over the course of three plays the Cowboys managed to actually lose six yards. Only one of these plays was a pass and it came on third down. Andy Dalton found CeeDee Lamb in the endzone and the rookie couldn’t hold on.

These are catches that CeeDee Lamb simply has to make. A touchdown would have tied the game at 20 and potentially changed a lot of what wound up happening.

Loser: Mike McCarthy

There has been legitimate reason for faith in Mike McCarthy to grow over the last month. The Cowboys were competitive in Philadelphia despite the Ben DiNucci factor, they almost took down the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, and they did vanquish the Minnesota Vikings.

A lot of that was seemingly undone in this game. While it should absolutely be said that the Cowboys had an intensely emotional and difficult week, they looked like a football team void of organization or direction. What’s more is that their head coach Mike McCarthy defended decisions that had no rhyme or reason like the fake punt that the team called late in the game.


Blogging the Boys

Jerry Jones defended Ezekiel Elliott and Jaylon Smith, saying he is fine with the resources put there

Jerry Jones said he would not devote the resources going towards Ezekiel Elliott and Jaylon Smith elsewhere even if he could

Again, there are a lot of Cowboys fans who wish they could fire up the DeLorean and stop the team from handing out the deals that they did to both Elliott and Smith. This isn’t to speak ill about them as people, but the business of football is a business, and some decisions are obviously not great ones.

Jerry Jones continues to not feel that way. Speaking on 105.3 The Fan on Friday morning, he spoke with incredible pride about both players and said that even if he could, he would not trade the resources spent on Elliott and Smith for anything else.

“Well I like what we’ve spent and what we done even going all the way back to picking him on Jaylon Smith. That’s been a home run. He’s everything and more we thought he could be coming back from the injury when we got him in the second round. He was on the first round board. So that’s, that is absolutely a winner.”

“I’ve said this before. Zeke is, our best player. He certainly, yesterday, would, he was up against a tough situation with where we are. But still, I like both those players. I think we’re lucky to have both of those guys.”

“I wouldn’t take the resources. I would not take those resources that I’m putting there and trade not having those guys for those resources. I would not do that.”

Jerry is as Jerry does. He is going to continue to be Jerry Jones no matter what, but these type of comments are not doing either Ezekiel Elliott or Jaylon Smith any favors. Jerry is seemingly only magnifying the spotlight of criticism that they have to face every time he goes over the top like this.


Blogging the Boys

Ten thoughts on the Cowboys crushing 41-16 loss to Washington

3. Third chances

It was infuriating to watch the Cowboys defense make stops on the first two downs, only to repeatedly give up third-down conversions. On the day, Washington was 7-13 on third down. Even when the Cowboys would make great plays to get Washington behind in down and distance, they’d still give up chunk yards that allowed them to keep the chains moving. It’s hard to keep yourself in the game when you can’t get off the field.

4. Run-a-ton-io Gibson

The rookie running back must love going against the Cowboys as the two best games of his short career have come against Dallas. In Week 7, Gibson ran the ball 20 times for 128 yards and a score. On Thursday, Gibson eclipsed the 100-yard mark again, putting up 118 yards on them. And he found the end zone three times!

The Cowboys defense had shown improvement against the run in recent games, but they were just all out of sorts against Washington. As a team, Washington averaged over five yards a carry churning out 182 yards. Their offensive line did a great job sealing the edge and creating holes for their running backs. The Cowboys defense was completely out of position several times, allowing big holes that resulted in two 20+ rushing touchdowns by Gibson.

5. Ignoring McLaurin

It’s flabbergasting how Washington had only one real wide receiver threat, and the Cowboys defense still had no answer for him. Alex Smith completed nine passes to his wide receivers, and seven of them went to Terry McLaurin as the second-year WR finished with 92 yards. None of the other Washington wideouts posed a threat, but time and time again the Dallas secondary just couldn’t find ways to stop McLaurin. It was truly pitiful.

6. The touchdown saving tackle

When McClaurin ran down Jaylon Smith from behind, it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the moment as the Cowboys offense still had the ball first-and-goal on the five-yard line. Little did we all know that it would end up costing the Cowboys.


Big Blue View

NFC East notebook: An embarrassing fake punt, Carson Wentz’s woes and Antonio Gibson’s hat trick

On the defensive side of the ball, Washington is ranked fifth in the league in yards allowed per game with 309.5. The Football Team is first in the league in passing yards allowed per game with 194.6.

Washington has now scored 20 points in five consecutive games for the first time since 2017. With the victory, the Football Team effectively eliminated Dallas from serious playoff contention, reducing the NFC East race to three teams.

And Thursday Washington won fans over with one play in particular.

Head coach Ron Rivera, who is half Puerto Rican, said after the game that the play was inspired by the movie that he had seen “100 times” with his kids.

Thursday was not the first time that Rivera called this play in his career. He ran it against the Houston Texans in his first year as head coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2011.

The Football Team is not only showing improvement as the season progresses, but they are becoming a fun team to watch.


Bleeding Green Nation

Lane Johnson is out for the rest of the Eagles’ 2020 season

Philadelphia’s right tackle has battled through injury all year.

Lane Johnson will miss the rest of the Eagles’ 2020 NFL season.

Philadelphia’s starting right tackle informed reporters about his injury status firsthand during a Friday morning video conference. Johnson specifically said: “the inside of my ankle collapsed.”

Yikes.

Johnson had been battling through an ankle injury that he had surgery on in late August. Johnson actually had to get his ankle drained (gross) at multiple points during the seaso. He also suffered knee and shoulder injuries.

Johnson deserves credit for toughing it out as much as he could but it’s good to see that the 30-year-old is finally being shut down for the season. Such a move obviously hurts the Eagles in the short-term but it’s in the team’s best long-term interest. Johnson can now focus on getting healthy for 2021 and beyond. He expects to have another surgery in the near future.


Bleeding Green Nation

Eagles News: Some are saying that Doug Pederson “wouldn’t be totally unhappy if he ends up getting fired”

Doug Pederson clearly is frustrated right now with what’s happening. There are people both inside and outside of the organization who have told me he wouldn’t be totally unhappy if he ends up getting fired. He won’t have any trouble getting another head job. He might have more say over personnel someplace else.


Big Blue View

Can “unique opportunity” help accelerate Giants’ long-term progress?

Many Giants will be playing in their first truly meaningful NFL game on Sunday

“It’s a unique opportunity for us,” Engram said. “When it’s meaningful football and the playoffs are involved, everybody’s, like I said, sense or urgency goes up. For me, it’s different being here the last three years in the situations that we’ve been in. I know it’s different for a lot of the young guys that are here that are just coming into the league and getting their opportunity to play meaningful football. Like I said, our motivation right now is getting better each and every day and attacking each opportunity going into the week, like we have now going against Cincinnati. But it is a special opportunity that a lot of guys are ready for.”

Judge said this week “is really the starting point for the division.”

“The most important thing truly is what I always say, is being a better team every week and being a better team at the end of the season because everyone right now is on equal ground going forward,” he added.

The Giants are expected to win Sunday, currently listed as 6-point favorites. They should win against a Cincinnati Bengals team without quarterback Joe Burrow and running back Joe Mixon. With four straight games coming up against teams with winning records, it’s a game they have to win.