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Need to Know: Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

Dec 2, 2015, 5:09 AM EDT

Darren-McFadden-Cowboys

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 2, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night football.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

—Even though they haven’t won a game without Tony Romo, the Cowboys are still a team to be very wary of. Five of their seven losses with Romo sidelined were by one score and some of those went down to the last minute.

—Darren McFadden has managed to remain healthy and he is on pace to gain a combined 1,300 yards rushing and receiving. But he’s about their only offensive weapon. Dez Bryant is having a horrible year, missing five games with a broken foot and averaging 12.2 yards per catch with just two touchdowns. Jason Witten is losing a step or two at age 33. Of course, the production of both Bryant and Witten is hampered by the loss of Romo, who suffered a second fracture to his left clavicle on Thanksgiving and isn’t coming back.

—The Cowboys are ranked seventh in the league in defense in terms of yards allowed but they are not really that efficient. They are 18th in points allowed and Football Outsiders ranks them 22nd in defensive DVOA (18th vs. pass, 25th vs. run).

—Part of the reason they are less than the sum of their stats is their turnover ratio of minus-12, the worst in the NFL. They are the worst in the NFL in the takeaway department with just seven—six interceptions and one, yes one, fumble recovery. Their quarterbacks have thrown 14 interceptions.

—Of course, the worst thing the Redskins can do is what some of the Giants did with them and take Dallas for granted. It’s hard to see them doing that. Their propensity for following up a nice win with a bad loss has been mostly due to the quality of the opponents they have faced after winning game, not to any letdown. I think the Redskins should be confident going into this one but nobody should expect the Cowboys to lay down for them.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Bears 11; Bills @ Redskins 18

In case you missed it

  1. colorofmyskinz - Dec 2, 2015 at 6:18 AM

    Yes if anyone in this front office dares to underestimate Dallas there will be s rude awakening. When Dallas-Redskins square off, standings and stats are meaningless indicators of potential outcome. It does not matter if the skins are the worst team in the league or if Dallas is. When we meet, it is always like 2 tied teams for the division. Anyone that knows the history of this matchup knows this.

    Again, if our front office does not know this, we will have a long day.

    Word to the wise, do not underestimate the Cowboys, this will be a very hard game.

    • cowboyhater - Dec 2, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      The front you thanks you for the heads up about Dallas…..really?

    • cowboyhater - Dec 2, 2015 at 8:30 AM

      The front office thanks you for the heads up…that is. Sorry early morning, but your statement is silly.

    • Trey Gregory - Dec 3, 2015 at 2:37 AM

      Yeah, I don’t quite understand the front office comment either. They really have absolutely nothing to do with the game plan or play on the field. Snyder, Allen, and Scot don’t have influence over those kinds of things.

      I’m pretty sure Rich meant mostly that the players shouldn’t sleep on Dallas, then the coaches. Not the front office.

  2. garg8050 - Dec 2, 2015 at 6:36 AM

    Need to start fast. Put the ball in Cassel’s hands. 8 in the box, stop the run. Breeland should shadow Bryant all over the field. Blackmon on Whitten. Quick passing game on offense, take your shots downfield to Jackson.

    If they come out fast, the Cowboys will wilt. If they let them hang around, things could get dicey.

    • cowboyhater - Dec 2, 2015 at 8:31 AM

      Receivers like Beasley can kill this team with those underneath quick hits……..

      • jonevans511 - Dec 2, 2015 at 3:34 PM

        Perhaps cowboyhater, but then again receivers like Reed (I can’t consider him a TE lol) and Crowder could and should give the Boys an absolute fit.

    • Trey Gregory - Dec 3, 2015 at 2:35 AM

      @garg: you want to put our #2 corner on a TE instead of a safety or linebacker? They have other receivers besides Dez. Is Terrance Williams hurt or something and I don’t know about it?

  3. sidepull - Dec 2, 2015 at 6:41 AM

    Throw the stats out the window when the Cowgirls and Redskins meet. Something crazy always happens. McFadden is running hard. Need to wrap him up. As long as Witten and Bryant are playing they will try to sick a dagger in the Redskins. I expect them to step up this game. Cant wait. HTTR

  4. skinsgame - Dec 2, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    “Their propensity for following up a nice win with a bad loss has been mostly due to the quality of the opponents they have faced after winning game, not to any letdown.”
    I don’t know. I’m not taking anything from the quality of their opponents but, they have followed each victory with a road game and, on a couple, looked flat. Both games in NY the team looked flat, particularly on defense. In Carolina too, I thought. This will be the 1st time they play a home game after a win though. Hopefully they begin to develop some consistency and get a streak going.

    • colmac69 - Dec 2, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      If they can win on Monday that’s dallas three behind and they go to green Bay nxt

      We go 2-1 and 7-7 with eagles/dallas up I take that right now

      Ny got nyj…miami…minnesota/caro..xpect them to b 6-8 with game vs minn/Caro in wk 16

      Could potentially win div vs eagles on boxing night if it plays out like that

      However we all know it never does…no matter how u look at it the div title is their for taking if they gd enough

      • ET - Dec 2, 2015 at 9:58 AM

        They are the worst in the NFL in the takeaway department with just seven—six interceptions and one, yes one, fumble recovery.

        Thankfully the Skins have improved in this department, even if it doesn’t always translate directly into points (as we saw in the Giants game). Would love to see two or three picks and a fumble recovery against the Cowboys.

  5. Travis - Dec 2, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    The skins have been horrible against the run. I could see McFadden running all over them and possibly losing in a shocker. Even if they win this one I fear they lose to Dallas in week 17.

    • sidepull - Dec 2, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      McFadden of late does not look like McFadden early on. That being said I fully expect him to come out with a full head of steam. Redskins need to wrap him up and not miss tackles they “should” make.

  6. bangkokben - Dec 2, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    “…nobody should expect the Cowboys to lay down for them.”

    I actually DO expect that EVENTUALLY the Cowboys will lay down like submissive dogs. Not at first and not without great effort by the home team. I expect this game to be close within the 3rd quarter and then tilt favorably (ten or more points) for the B&G. The Redskins will physically drive them into submission and wear them down with 3rd down conversions.

    • ET - Dec 2, 2015 at 12:24 PM

      If this prognostication comes to pass, we will not be sad. Let there be weeping, gnashing of teeth, and great lamentations in Texas!

      • bangkokben - Dec 2, 2015 at 12:36 PM

        They can thank us later for helping them get such a high draft pick.

    • Trey Gregory - Dec 3, 2015 at 2:41 AM

      You really think a pro football team is just going to lay down against a heated division rival? That’s quite the prediction.

      • bangkokben - Dec 3, 2015 at 7:50 AM

        I think I was pretty specific in how. Do I think the Cowboys will prepare to win, play hard for as long as they can play hard, and try to win? Yes. I also have seen zero resiliency from that team so I think they can be forced into submission. Maybe we don’t force them. Maybe they scrounge one of those intangible victories this rivalry has had over the years or maybe it’s like the reverse of the last game of last year where our team wasn’t even competitive.

  7. Redskintothend - Dec 2, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    Who cares about the cowboys! they are not the American team; the Redskins are. The cowboys are cowards.

    Sick of the cowboys!

  8. firesnyder - Dec 2, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    After the player meeting, I really think the mindset has changed. The guys realize they are in the driver’s seat, and they see Kirk getting better each week, so I think the motivation is really there now. They didn’t believe in them themselves before. Now they do.

    I think we win this game by 7. Cassel can be good at times and with that O-line, I can’t see us pressuring as much as we did against Eli. I think Dez and Witten will be mostly shutdown as we have recently done a good job of taking away teams best 1 or 2 weapons. However, Terrance Williams could have a big game… history shows he usually catches 3 to 5 against us.

    Hail.

  9. JOHNNY B - Dec 2, 2015 at 1:56 PM

    If we are not careful the Dallas defense can and will shut down our offense. They have nobody who can keep up with Djax so utilize him multiple times and get the run game moving. Reed and Garson will have a good game. Our defense if they play like they did on Sunday we will be ok. Don’t back down and take it to them every quarter unlike the Giants game.

    • bangkokben - Dec 2, 2015 at 2:49 PM

      I scoff at “the Dallas defense shutting down our offense.” However, our offense not maximizing yardage and points is well within reason. If we are determined to make our offense a run 1st offense, we could have some trouble. We were most successful on drives where we started out throwing the ball on 1st down. There is the adage that says in order for the play action to work you have to first establish the run – which has merit. But this entire season has shown that our tendencies are to run on 1st and ten and we need to break these tendencies. Play action big play first two drives. Then the run will open up on 1st down.

      • JOHNNY B - Dec 2, 2015 at 3:18 PM

        Agree on mixing it up on first. Play action maybe a screen to Crowder or Jones. Depending on where Hardy is lined up he is my biggest concern on their defense. Hardy might not be performing very good but a Division game might change his production. I hope J. Jones has decided that the season is over and looking forward to a top 5 draft pick.

        • bangkokben - Dec 2, 2015 at 5:27 PM

          I’ve seen zero character from Dallas this year as a team. It would seem that a strong punch in the mouth (metaphorically speaking, of course) and they will wilt. This is their last chance to show something this year. Hit them hard and steal their heart and they will collapse.

        • JOHNNY B - Dec 2, 2015 at 5:57 PM

          Lol like how you put it

      • ET - Dec 2, 2015 at 4:26 PM

        “But this entire season has shown that our tendencies are to run on 1st and ten and we need to break these tendencies.”

        Agreed. It’s not necessary to reinvent the offense, just introduce some variation. I’d love to see more aggression on 1st and 2nd down, targeting Garçon and Reed on some midrange routes (among other things).

        • Rich Tandler - Dec 2, 2015 at 5:12 PM

          I don’t get this. The NFL as a whole runs 50.2 percent of the time on first down. The Redskins run 51 percent of the time on first down. Off the top of my head I’d say that that comes to a tendency to run on first down once more every two or three games.

        • bangkokben - Dec 2, 2015 at 7:44 PM

          @Rich,

          It’s not so much the amount of runs on 1st downs as much as it is the timing of these runs (1st few drives) and overwhelming lack of success of these plays.

  10. John - Dec 2, 2015 at 3:52 PM

    Can’t let Cassel get into a rythym. He’s not Romo but is capable, though not having shown it this year.

    Take the middle of the field away from Written and eliminate Bryant. Alternate double teams.

  11. goback2rfk - Dec 2, 2015 at 11:42 PM

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