Welcome back to the B&G Report. Hope you enjoyed the last Rookie Spotlight. It’s onto the Dallas Cowboys in the Alumni Game and the pressure is on! Both teams are 3-3 fighting for a possible wildcard playoff spot, with Eagles surging to a possible division title sitting at 6-1. This will be another grudge match with arguably the biggest rivalry in sports! I’ll highlight some keys to the game, players to watch and the possible outcome.
* Redskins will be missing three O-Line starters. This is definitely cause for concern. Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Spencer Long are all out. Newly signed offensive guards Arie K and Franklin will be active today. There will be 4 new starters on the line, which is extremely rare.
* 2012 was last home win vs Dallas. With the Redskins Greats on hand for the Alumni game, the Skins must be aggressive early to avoid a let down at home.
* Dallas K Dan Bailey has been ruled out “has never missed a FG vs Redskins”. Now they bring in new kicker Mike Nugent (had Skins tryout) who has been inconsistent over the last couple years. This will lead to opportunities for big kickoff returns as well, with Nugent not having the the best leg strength. This is Chris Thompson’s opportunity to give the special teams unit a boost as a kick returner.
* Washington needs to use “Three TE personnel sets” more often and not just use the formation on run downs. Coach Gruden needs to fight the urge to be predictable and just trust his QB to make plays in the passing game. The TE’s need to chip the Cowboys DE’s early and often. All of the Skins TE’s are horrible blockers, with the unknown Jeremy Sprinkle most likely getting activated. They don’t have to hold blocks long to make an impact, just enough to get their backs out in space. Dallas can be run on, but it will take offensive creativity with this “Frankenstein O-Line”.
* The screen game can be utilized against Dallas, who runs a lot of Zone defense with young corners. Chris Thompson is the obvious threat, but rookie back Samaja Perine has shown he can also be decent as a receiver. Using Perine as a dual threat would confuse Dallas and force them to key in on the backs, rather than the tight ends in short yardage.
* Kirk Cousin has shown he can run the read option, jet sweep run plays, as well as make unscheduled scrambles. Coach Gruden will have to find ways to get Cousins out of the pocket and roll him out. Kirk needs to utilize his pass catchers range/height if he can get out in space.
Defense vs Cowboys Offense * Dak Prescott will be running a ton of read option plays, as well as other plays to keep the Redskins defense on their toes.
* Keeping Zeke Elliot bottled up will be a challenge, but the Redskins defense has been decent against the run. Elliott poses the toughest challenge in the run game though. The loss of rookie DE John Allen was really felt last week. He was a huge contributor in the run game, but they need to limit Elliot’s opportunities and keep the Cowboys in 2nd/3rd and longs. Second year DE Anthony Lanier should see a bigger role today, after seeing limited time last week. Lanier’s size(6’6 285) needs to be utilized at the line of scrimmage.
* Zach Brown needs to spy Dak if they hope to stop him. Brown will have his hands full today trying to bottle up Dak & Elliot though. What the Cowboys offense does well is sell the read option. At any time Elliott could burst up the middle for a huge gain. Dak could also keep it and take off down the sideline, which is what Carsen Wentz & Alex Smith did to the Skins defense. Brown will have to get physical with Elliot and send him a message early on!
* The return of Josh Norman is huge for this defense. Having “The Cerebral Assassin” back in the lineup is a huge boost for this defense. Although B. Breeland has been playing well and L.Dunbar has stepped up, there is simply no replacing Norman’s intelligence and vision. So I’m looking for Dez Bryant to get physical with Norman, especially after Norman’s offseason quote that “Dez is just a guy”. Also knowing that Norman is still dealing with pain in his ribs, could entice Dez to do something stupid. Bryant might regret getting physical with Norman because I think this will be the most hyped up Redskins fans have ever seen Norman!
* Redskins safeties must have their best game of the year. Swearinger & Nicholson need to put fear in the Cowboys pass catchers hearts, who attempt to catch passes over the middle. The Redskins haven’t had an enforcer since the great Sean Taylor, but the current duo has shown to be tough and never back down form a challenge.
Players To Watch
* Jordan Reed will be the focus of the Cowboys defense and should have a good game. I’m predicting Reed & Vernon Davis combine for over a 100 yards and two scores.
* Josh Doctson will be productive vs Dallas. Doc should use his size advantage today against the Dallas rookie corners, but needs to step up his physicality and route running. He needs to get in and out of his breaks quicker.
* Kirk Cousins will have a good day vs the Cowboy pass rush. The key in the passing game today will be to get rid of the ball quicker. The screen game can’t be counted on with the absence of Williams & Scherff, but can be used if the Cowboys stack the box. Kirk’s best friend will be the crossing route today with Cowboys having a weakness at SS. Former Cowboy safety Barry Church often victimized the Redskins offense, so with his lackluster replacement Jeff Health is Kirk could find a good matchup to exploit.
* Fuller & Breeland will be challenged early. The duo will need to get extra physical with the Cowboys receivers. I believe Dez will not be as productive with Norman back, thus the Cowboys other receivers will be targeted more often.
This will be a knock down, drag out fight between these two teams. The high powered Dallas offense will be difficult to stop, but Manusky’s defense will be up to the task. As for Kirk Cousins, he’s going to face a Cowboys front that will blitz often and sit in a lot of zone coverage. In the end I think the Redskins run game won’t be productive with all the injuries on the O-line. It will be up to Kirk to get rid of the ball quickly and get out on the edges, in order to make plays with his feet when needed. Also the defense will need to come up huge today and produce multiple turnovers. This needs to be the best defensive outing for the Redskins to date, if they intend to defeat the Cowboys.
Final score prediction Skins win 24-21. HTTR!🏹