Dallas Week Edition: Taking Down the Cowboys
Welcome back to The Burgundy and Gold Report. It’s Dallas week and motivation shouldn’t be an issue when the Redskins face their arch rival cowboys. Adding intrigue to the divisional match up, Washington currently sits atop the NFC East standings with a 3-2 record. With Philadelphia breathing down their neck, a golden opportunity lies before them to extend their lead.
Establishing the Run
The Redskins run game got on track versus Carolina with Adrian Peterson rumbling for a hard earned 97 rushing yards on only 17 carries for a 5.7 ypc. As a team the Skins totaled 132 rushing yard, The collective effort was productive, but needs to improve.Backup running backs Bibbs & Perine combined for only 3 carries, but Gruden has been riding the hot hand of AP so that’s unlikely to change.
Washington will be facing an aggressive Dallas defensive front featuring defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. Peterson has been the “iron man” for the Redskins and committing to the run early will open up the passing game which should lead to a win for the Skins . Although AP has been dealing with a myriad of upper & lower body injuries, he recently expressed his encouragement regarding his improvement with reporters.
“It’s night and day how I feel this week. I’ll be ready to play.”
Getting Peterson going is paramount to the success of this Redskins run game. Having AP is a luxury and another option will be a necessity at some point. Although Thompson should be active against Dallas, his effectiveness will be in question. Perine & Bibbs should be in the mix as well.
Using the Hurry Up
When Alex Smith and the Redskins face the Cowboys, they’ll see a similar cover 2 defensive look from Dallas, which stymied them versus Indianapolis. In the loss to Indianapolis they dared the Redskins offense to play dink & dunk ball while their defense sat in zone. The Redskins should have capitalized with bubble screens and zone read misdirection plays, but instead they stayed predictable. The word is Alex Smith was tipping off his cadence to the Colts’ defense pre-snap, allowing them to get a jump on the ball. This could be something to keep an eye on.
Complicating matters for the banged up Redskins line will be the Cowboys ability to stunt and get pressure in the backfield. Trent Williams and the rest of the line are banged up as usual, but a let down against this Dallas defense isn’t an option. The bottom line is Alex Smith will inevitably have to take more shots downfield if for nothing else than to keep the defense honest.
Stopping The Two-Headed Attack
Washington held Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in check, for the most part. Carolina’s final drive was when Newton accumulated a big chunk of his rushing and passing yard. In fact, the Panthers had only 81 yards rushing as team versus Washington. Shutting down Newton and the league’s top rushing attack has prepared them to face the Cowboys.
Similar to Carolina, Dallas excels at using the read option. When Washington faces Dak Prescott & Zeke Elliot they should expect more of the same. The Redskins’ defense comes to into the match up motivated and should be more than prepared to stop the Cowboy’s two- headed rushing attack.
The defense can live with Dak running for 60+ yards, but keeping Elliot under 120 yards will be key. The Dallas running back is difficult to stop, so minimizing the bleeding is a good game plan. Dallas no longer has a safety blanket in tight end Jason Witten or receiver Dez Bryant. Although they do have play making slot receiver Cole Beasley, they’ll need more than that to put up points against Washington’s overachieving defense.
To date, the Redskin’s defensive line has exceeded expectations, but outside linebackers Kerrigan & Smith will be expected to do more with the Cowboys line at less than full strength. Dallas has already lost a few offensive lineman to IR, most notably Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick. If the Redskins outside linebackers can set the edge, the rest of the defense could take away running lanes for Prescott & Elliot.
Redskin’s Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has shown aggression early on in the game. However, when Washington has a lead, the prevent defense seems to be his go-to. This “bend don’t break” defensive mentality has to end this week if the Redskins intend to stay in command in the East. When Manusky has brought a blitzing safety or cornerback, they’ve had success. Last week safety DJ Swearinger registered a strip sack as a blitzer, so if they stay consistent and disciplined the strategy does pay off . Dallas isn’t known for running anything exotic and other than running Elliot up the middle, they should be containable. Dallas has yet to face the Alabama duo of Allen & Payne, so it should get interesting in the trenches.
Lastly, dedicating a spy to Dak will go a long way in stopping the Cowboys’ run attack. Redskins’ coaches should be emphasizing the importance of containing Elliot on any zone read/ read option plays, forcing Dak to beat Washington with his legs and arm. Prescott is a much smaller quarterback than Carolina’s Newton, so a combination of Zach Brown & Josh Harvey-Clemons should be able to contain the mobile quarterback.
In the end, if Elliot’s impact can be reduced, Washington should come up with the W. As Redskins fans know all too well, anything could happen during this storied rivalry grudge match. But one things for sure, there will be no love lost between these two teams.
Thanks for checking another B&G Report. Although the Redskins are currently on a four game losing streak to the Cowboys, something seems different in the air this time around.
Redskins 24 Cowboys 19
Written By Adam Aniba
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