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Cowboys news: Fake punt under scrutiny, “would have worked earlier in the game,” says John Fassel

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Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Fassel: Fake Would Have Worked Earlier In Game - Staff, Dallas Cowboys

Special teams coach John Fassel talks about the fake punt mishap.

Cedrick Wilson was given the ball on the fake punt with the plan of throwing it, but he was put in a nearly impossible position when Washington had his first option clearly covered. With no realistic options to pass it, he settled for what Fassel deemed “the emergency option” and tried to run with the ball. He was tackled for a 1-yard loss, 11 yards shy of a first down.

On one hand, you could call it bad luck that Washington guessed the right coverage for the type of play design Dallas had planned, but Fassel also admitted that Dallas had been getting “a lot of unpredictable looks” in the special teams coverages they’ve faced this season. That’s likely due to Fassel’s tendency to call fake plays. Washington may well have been switching up their coverages with the hope of possibly luring Dallas into an untenable fake attempt. “If we had run it the first time they wouldn’t have been able to stop it,” Fassel claimed. “But we didn’t call it [then.]”

Cowboys act out 2020 in a nutshell during Thanksgiving loss - Bob Sturm, The Athletic

Sturm takes us through the journey of the season, reenacted by one single Thanksgiving game, including a closer look at that fake punt.

The punter, Hunter Niswander, was headed to the right flat, where he would present almost no threat to get the 10 yards they needed for the first down. But when I looked at the design again, I at least saw the concept, which was CJ Goodwin — perhaps the man most famous for recovering the crazy onside kick versus Atlanta in Week 2 — playing the gunner and cutting all the way inside off motion and then running a corner route past the sticks. All that happened while the defenders focused on Niswander, who was probably just a Philly special decoy (perhaps even hoping that the concept they just ran in the red zone might cause Washington defenders to eat the cheese).

I think the evidence suggests they did eat the cheese, but we will never know. Wilson did not pull the trigger. Goodwin was wide open and waving for the ball. Would the throw and catch have been made? Maybe, maybe not. But if it was, Goodwin might run for the go-ahead touchdown. It didn’t look like Wilson was even considering passing the ball to either player, as he never adjusted the ball as a passer would. It really didn’t make much sense.

It looked ridiculous and disastrous. Unprepared and desperate.

Cowboys’ Randy Gregory notches first sacks since reinstatement - Asa Henry, Cowboys Wire

It was good to see Gregory have a good game on Thursday.

Gregory compiled five pressures in his first three full outings and provided a needed boost to the Cowboys pass rush that was being held above water by All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

During Thursday’s Thanksgiving showdown, the former top talent out of Nebraska played what could be considered his best game as a Cowboy, as he recorded two sacks in just 29 snaps. The two sacks were Gregory’s first since his reinstatement, and the game was Gregory’s first ever two-sack game in his short NFL career.

The first of the two sacks came on 3rd and 7 on the very first Washington drive.

It’s about mental health: How the Cowboys are trying to cope after a brutal emotional rollercoaster - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

It’s been an exhausting season, but talking things through can be very therapeutic.

On the Cowboys’ first offensive drive, they lost both starting tackles in a five-play span. Left tackle Cam Erving sprained his right MCL Then, on the right side, Martin aggravated a left calf injury.

Dallas trailed by four points to begin the fourth quarter before ceding 21 points unanswered in a 41-16 loss. McCarthy called the entire experience “emotionally exhausting.”

It’s not about riding the highs and lows of an NFL season.

It’s about mental health.

During what has been an already difficult year with COVID-19 and social distancing, the Cowboys have professionals on staff to be a resource to players, coaches and staffers as needed. McCarthy has used his own dealings with a mental health worker as an example to players.

In 1995, McCarthy was the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach while going through a divorce.

“It was taboo to talk to somebody,” McCarthy said. “I was talking to an individual at that time, and anytime the individual came into my office, I wanted to crawl under my desk. That was just kind of the stigma of it back then.

“But that doesn’t’ exist [now]. I know it doesn’t in our organization. When people are open to talk about it, I think it definitely helps. It probably helps save one another.”

The Cowboys Will Have Some Tough Decisions this Offseason - Shane Carter, Inside the Star

The Cowboys will have some tough decisions on who to keep next offseason, including the players remaining from the 2017 draft class.

Awuzie and Lewis provide solid depth but the team is likely going to look to upgrade the position. With this year’s second-round pick, Trevon Diggs, returning next year, and Anthony Brown slated to be the team’s starting nickel corner, the team might be better off letting both of them walk if they can agree on terms.

Xavier Woods has arguably been the best player from the draft class. He’s been one of the more consistent players in the team’s secondary over the last few seasons. The thought up to this point seems to be that he’ll be back next year. Woods hasn’t been flashy, but he’s been a reliable starter who won’t cost as much to keep and could end up being the only remaining player from the 2017 draft class.

The case for Noah Brown returning is what he does well aside from playing receiver. On the depth chart, he’s fifth behind the starting trio and Cedrick Wilson. His best assets to the team are his great play on special teams and his skill as a blocker in the run game.

Cowboys Top 5 Draft Needs: Re-Make The Secondary - Matthew Postins, Sports Illustrated

The Cowboys have a lot of different needs heading into the offseason, but what are their biggest ones?

1. Cornerback

This year’s second-round pick, Trevon Diggs, has an injury that may keep him out the rest of the season. But Diggs will be back and he will be a starter in 2021 (right now Diggs leads the Cowboys in interceptions with two, and that’s a larger issue with the defense’s inability to create turnovers). Diggs could use a running buddy who is superior to Anthony Brown, and a high first-round draft pick could be just the trick. Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in particular are free agents. Our Mike Fisher has reported that some inside The Star think Awuzie was slow to return from injury. The Cowboys will be fast, we bet, in transforming the cornerback spot next year.

Tanking or playoffs? To Jerry Jones, the best option for the Cowboys is clear - Staff, Dallas Morning News

The Cowboys owner appeared on 105.3 The Fan and was asked his thoughts on the “Tank” idea.

What is more beneficial to the 2021 Cowboys? Tanking or making the playoffs now in 2020?

Jones: “I think coming off the playoff appearance unquestionably. This is now. This is this year, and you wait that now. There’s really not a decision here on our team with tanking. Let me be real clear here, and I’m not offended by the conversation at all, and I understand what you’re talking about. That’s just not going to be the case. We’ve got players that we’re having to play, not because necessarily we have a choice. We have these players — they’re our best players to win the ballgame. It turns out they’re the players that ought to be playing. They’re young players that potentially have for the most part good futures. So, the only definition I know about tanking is to play people that can play people that can help you in the future more than someone that can help you now. We don’t have that situation.”

Cowboys defender fined for hit on Minnesota Vikings QB in Week 11 - Adam Carlson, The Viking Age

The hits keep on coming, and so do the fines apparently.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero announced on his Twitter account that a fine had been handed down to a member of the Dallas Cowboys defense for a hit made on Kirk Cousins that could have changed the outcome of the game.

The helmet-to-helmet was one that was obvious during the replay but wasn’t called on the field by an official. The fact it resulted in a turnover makes the hit even more of a blown call and makes the outcome of the game even more frustrating.

Although Donovan Wilson was fined $4,159 for the hit, the true cost of the game could be the Vikings’ three-game winning streak that came to an end against Dallas and an attempt to chase a postseason berth in the crowded NFC playoff picture.

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