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Cowboys news: Lots of love for Amari Cooper

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Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

FMIA Week 12: Seattle Steps Up As Path To Playoffs Begins To Take Shape – Peter King, ProFootballTalk
Amari Cooper was named one of the players of the week.

First three games in Dallas for Cooper: 169 yards receiving, one touchdown. Fourth game (Thursday versus Washington): 180 yards, two touchdowns. In five minutes of the third quarter on Thanksgiving, Cooper caught a 40-yard touchdown from Dak Prescott, and on Prescott’s next pass, Cooper’s catch-and-run of another touchdown was the longest pass completion of the year—90 yards. If he keeps producing like this, Cooper will be worth the first-round pick Dallas paid to acquire him from Oakland.

NFL Team Grades for Week 12 - Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
Cooper is also called out for exemplary performance by another site.

Plenty of people—myself included—believed the Dallas Cowboys overpaid by giving up a first-round pick for wideout Amari Cooper. Well, Cooper showed just what kind of game-breaker he can be against the Washington Redskins. If he can add such a different dimension to the Dallas offense on a consistent basis, then he'll be worth the price.

Cooper finished with 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He added a quick-strike component to the offense and ensured Washington couldn't key in on Ezekiel Elliott and the ground game.

Dallas racked up 404 yards of offense as a team, which proved to be more than enough to knock off the Redskins. This is largely because the defensive front seven had its way with Washington's banged-up offensive line.

The Cowboys defense held Adrian Peterson to just 35 rushing yards and made Colt McCoy look like the backup quarterback he is.

NFL Week 12 Plays of the Week - Gordon McGuinness, Pro Football Focus
Cooper is also cited in PFF’s plays of the week piece for his 90-yard catch and run.

Showing exactly why the Cowboys traded a first round pick for him, Amari Cooper catches the ball in traffic, makes a cut to turn upfield, and outruns everyone on the Redskins defense to the end zone.

3 underrated players on the Cowboys' improved defense, including a safety playing the best football of his career - John Owning, SportsDay
Owning goes deep into the film to highlight three defensive players who, under the radar, have performed well throughout the season. Here he cites Xavier Woods; follow the link to find out the others.

On this play, the Cowboys are in a two-deep shell, meaning Woods and Heath are aligned deep on separate halves of the field. However, once the ball is snapped, Woods rotates down into the ‘hole’ while Heath rotates into the deep middle, putting the Cowboys in a single-deep safety coverage.

After rotating down, Woods shows off his excellent vision, football intelligence and instincts by reading Colt McCoy’s eyes and making a ‘plus’ break on the pass, meaning that Woods starts to break on the pass during McCoy’s throwing motion instead of after the ball leaves his hands.

The plus break allowed Woods to undercut the receiver before the ball arrived, giving himself a legitimate interception opportunity. Unfortunately, because Woods didn’t attack the ball, the receiver had just enough time to knock the ball out of Woods’ hands, rendering the pass incomplete.

Even though he wasn’t able to come down with the interception, it was still a fantastic play from Woods, and the type of play the Cowboys defense hasn’t had since Darren Woodson retired.

Scott Linehan explains why Cowboys have passed on first-and-goal from the 4 instead of handing to Ezekiel Elliott - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Many have questioned the play-calling near the goal-line the last couple weeks. Machota rightly points out the first down playcalls were winners - lack of execution is what doomed them to failure.

"We feel like we want to have a balance to our approach there," Linehan said, "not resist the urge because they know we want to do it. But also know we have to have a stubborn approach no matter what we do even if we have to get big people to run the ball because that's what you really have to when you get these bear defenses that people run. It makes it a little more difficult.

"We feel like we've missed an opportunity to cash in on those but we certainly want to be better in that regard. But I think our short-yardage stuff has really picked up, especially in the last four weeks."

In Linehan's defense, both first-down pass plays should have been touchdowns. Noah Brown didn't have a defender within five yards of him against Washington, but Dak Prescott's pass fell short. At Atlanta, Cole Beasley created separation near the goal line but dropped a Prescott pass he usually catches.

Dak: ‘We’ve Just Got To Simply Play Our Game’ - Rob Phillips,
There’s no magic formula for the Cowboys to emerge victorious in Thursday night tilt against the New Orleans Saints. Dak says they just need to get “better each and every week”.

Dallas’ scoring average has jumped from 19.3 points in the first eight games to 26.7 points in the last three. The offense’s third down percentage went from 33.3 percent to 50 percent.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott has reclaimed the league lead in rushing (1,074 yards) with three straight 100-yard games. And since the club’s trade for wide receiver Amari Cooper, Prescott has completed 70 percent of his passes for 767 yards with five touchdowns and only one interception in the last four games.

The offense has been at its best building favorable down-and-distances around Elliott’s runs and wearing down defenses over four quarters. Cooper adds another big-play element to the group, with touchdown catches of 40 and 90 yards in a Thanksgiving win over Washington.

“We’re getting better each and every week,” Prescott said. “That’s what you want to do and need to do at this time of the year.”

Flip Side: The Best Way To Defend Kamara? - Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, Lindsay Cash Draper,
The crew puts their collective thoughts together on the challenge the Saints and Drew Brees presents for the Cowboys.

Brees has always been able to move in the pocket, but it’s a trait he developed out of necessity due to his lack of height. He will often slide to his left or right in order to find a lane to deliver the ball. It is not an ideal situation for him to sit in the middle of the pocket and attempt to complete passes. It is this pocket mobility and awareness that allow him to wear defenses out.

Payton has been able to tailor a game plan for him that relies on an offensive line which consistently plays on its feet, along with a powerful downhill running game. It’s a lethal combination that keeps the defense honest and gives him more than enough time to work with a young, ascending receiving corps and tight ends that are skilled working down the field.

There was a time where the Saints could only beat you one way and that was with Drew Brees. The accuracy and mobility are still there, but the requirement of it being a quarterback-driven offense is not.

Drew Brees has made Sean Payton’s life easier over the years, but now Payton is returning the favor.

New Triplets? Maybe not, but Zeke, Dak, Amari off to promising start - Todd Archer, ESPN
It’s too early to call Dak - Zeke - Amari the new triplets, but the talent and youth at QB, RB and WR does bear some similarity to the original Triplets now enshrined in both the Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor.

In the Thanksgiving Day rematch against the Redskins, Cooper caught eight passes for 180 yards and had touchdowns of 40 and 90 yards in the 31-23 win.

Ezekiel Elliott ran for 121 yards on 26 carries and had a 16-yard touchdown run. He doesn’t turn 24 until July. Dak Prescott threw the two touchdown passes to Cooper and completed 22-of-31 passes for 289 yards. He doesn’t turn 26 until a week after Elliott.

The last time the Cowboys had their quarterback, running back and wide receiver with a chance to grow together like this was in 1992 when Troy Aikman was 26, Emmitt Smith was 23 and Michael Irvin was 26, playing their first full season together.

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