Redskins at Cowboys: Rivalry Rematch

Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; The Dallas Cowboys offense faces the Washington Redskins defense during the game at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys defeat the Redskins 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Redskins fans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Our beloved Washington Redskins are facing our most hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas at Jerry’s world. This week 13 NFC East matchup will determine who’ll finish second and third within the division. Even though this 2017 campaign hasn’t gone the way we would’ve liked, this is a chance to finish higher than our most hated opponent and give us bragging rights for the offseason. Anyone that has heard of football understands the severity of this matchup. The Redskins and Cowboys have hated each other since they’ve been in the NFL. Motivation shouldn’t be a problem.

The Redskins enter this Thursday Night Football game on a confident note, having defeated the Giants on Thanksgiving night. The Redskins struggled but found a way to win. No one said they’d all be pretty; victories are our only goal. The Redskins will have a boost along the offensive line with the return of All Pro left tackle Trent Williams. This move should shore up an offensive line that has been pieced together most of the season. This should allow Cousins and the offense to move the ball by passing or running with success. Redskins WR Josh Doctson (when given the chance) has really shown his 1st-round value, and that the best is yet to come. Rookie RB Samaje Perine has also stepped up and given the Redskins the balance needed to keep the defense honest, boasting his second straight 100 yards of rushing versus the Saints then the Giants. Having a good balanced offense always gives a team the best chance at victory. Head Coach Jay Gruden stated this week that he plans to use the running game the way he did at the start of this 2017 campaign. Gruden also said he’d allow Cousins to utilize what he sees to dictate the play call, basically taking the training wheels off. The Redskins front office was quoted this week saying, “we’re going to use these final games to decide on Cousins’ future with the Redskins.” I’m hoping this means they’re going to allow Cousins to be himself and not a simply a company man.

The Cowboys enter this game without their biggest defensive piece in middle linebacker Sean Lee. This goes a long way toward a Redskins victory if exploited correctly. Lee is the heart and soul of the Cowboys defense. Without him on the field, it’s easier for teams to find success in play calling. That’s not to say that the Redskins will be able to run amok. Let’s just say things should be more in the Redskins’ favor.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys most dominate weapon RB Ezekiel Elliott is serving a 6-game suspension and will not play. This leaves the Redskins to face a familiar foe in RB Alfred Morris. Morris has tried to replace Elliot with very little success. Elliott averaged 7 to 9 yards per carry, while Morris is averaging only 2 to 3. This is a huge drop off that plays into the defensive hands of the Redskins. The run game isn’t the only side where the Cowboys offense is suffering. Their passing game has also been a shell of itself. WR Dez Bryant hasn’t been able to shake or lose DB’s at all this season. Some argue that it’s the absence of Elliott that has hurt the all around play of the Cowboys offense. To me it’s the same thing that has hampered the Redskins progress – key injuries across the offensive line. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott hasn’t had time to do anything in or out of the pocket. In the Cowboys week 10 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, their defensive end Adrian Clayborn set a new team record of 6 sacks by himself on Dak Prescott, which was the first game of Elliott’s suspension. The Cowboys are in a bad place right now on a 3-game losing streak.

Cousins is really growing before our eyes, making better decisions with the ball and setting his team up in the best position to be successful. Cousins needs to recognize the blitz and get rid of the ball a little faster, but this comes with time. Outside of that, Cousins is silencing the naysayers and critics. He ranks number 2 in the league with a 102.5 QBR (quarterback rating), trailing Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Consistency is the only problem I can see for the Redskins. The Redskins WR corps has to step up as well. Dropped passes are a drive and momentum killer. TE Vernon Davis will play a big part in the outcome of this week 13 matchup. The Cowboy’s don’t have an answer for Davis’ size or speed, which means Redskins WR’s should find themselves open or outrunning the Cowboys coverage. This game will also come down to which team can find their rhythm early and impose there will on the other team. There’s also a great chance for the Redskins to better their playoff positioning with a win. According to the math, the Redskins still have a chance to fulfill their goal at the end of the season and find themselves in the playoffs. That would be huge for this Redskins team, contending with injuries, low production from different positions on the team and terrible coaching. Overcoming all this would mean that the Redskins are a special team, and the sky is the limit in terms of what they can achieve by season’s end.

Kell’s Keys to Victory:

Offensively the Redskins have to play and execute with total confidence. WR’s have to play with what is known as a short memory, let bad plays and or missed chances go, as quickly as they happen. Run the ball with bad intentions, don’t allow the first defensive player to bring you down, secure the ball, and most of all take full advantage of every RED ZONE opportunity. The Redskins can’t afford 3 points on every red zone appearance. They need to keep the Cowboys defense on the field, demoralize this defense on 3rd and whatever the necessary yardage. Make them quit on the defensive side. Eliminate the crucial penalties at the worst times.

Defensively the Redskins should have the advantage. Prescott is trying his best to prove that the Cowboys offense goes through him, so he’ll make a mistake or two. It’ll be the Redskins defensive players’ job to capitalize on these mistakes, take the ball away either through causing fumbles or interceptions. The Redskins can’t give this Cowboys offense any room for comfort. Keep that uncertain feeling with which the Cowboys are entering this matchup. The Cowboys are a desperate team at this point. The Redskins must keep it that way. The Redskins have to play with discipline – no silly penalties.

Head Coach Jay Gruden has to live up to his words and allow Cousins to go crazy on this Cowboys secondary that’s banged up and possibly the weakest part of the defense. Gruden needs to make play calls that are unexpected and or out of the norm. The Redskins still have a chance to be relevant at the end of this 2017 season. It starts with Thursday night. Gruden must pour trust into all his team until it becomes confidence. That’s what winning coaches do – make believers out of the skeptical and give players the necessary energy to find victory. This is the Redskins number one hated rival they’re playing. All hands on deck and let the games begin! RIP #21 Sean Taylor, we truly miss you.

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