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.
* 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”.
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.
* 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!
* 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.
* 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.
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.