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Need to Know: Are the Cowboys the Redskins’ biggest threat in the NFC East?

Jun 30, 2016, 5:37 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 30, 28 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 172 days ago. It will be 74 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 15; Preseason opener @ Falcons 42; Final roster cut 65

Three and out

—The more I think about it and the more I talk to other people the more I am convinced that the Redskins will pass the ball a lot more often than they run it. They are going to go where their talent takes them and that’s throwing the ball. They will be top five in the NFL in passing attempts (about 625 attempts or more). That may not be the way to win the Super Bowl and it shouldn’t be the long term play but passing does give them the best chance of winning in 2016.

—I’ve heard some chatter, mostly from fans, about the possibility of Reggie Bush signing with the team to be the veteran backup option. Bush has great name recognition but that’s about it. He has just 84 carries in 16 games the last two seasons combined. If you want someone as a backup because you’re concerned that Matt Jones is fragile you don’t go out a sign someone who is even more breakable. In 10 NFL seasons Bush has played 16 games twice.

—The Redskins’ biggest threat in the NFC East is supposed to be the revitalized Cowboys but the more I look at them the less I’m buying it. Bucky Brooks of listed the Cowboys’ “blue chip” players and I wasn’t impressed. Jason Witten is 34 and averaged 9.3 yards per catch last year. Sean “If He Can Stay Healthy” Lee is turning 30 soon and he hasn’t played a full season in any of his six NFL seasons. How Orlando Scandrick, who missed all of last season and has never been to a Pro Bowl, is considered a blue chipper I have no idea. What you have left is a very good run blocking offensive line and Tony Romo passing to Dez Bryant. Doesn’t look like much more than a .500 team to me but we’ll see. The Redskins should be more concerned with the Eagles, who have the best defense in the division.

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  1. redskins12thman - Jun 30, 2016 at 5:42 AM

    If Romo stays healthy, it is Cowboys, then Giants and then Eagles in terms of threat. But division games are always tough regardless of each team’s record.

  2. redskins12thman - Jun 30, 2016 at 5:54 AM

    On your other points:

    A balanced attack gives the Redskins a better chance of winning against the better teams.

    If Pierre Thomas plays like he did last season, the Redskins could add him if necessary; hopefully, Brown, Kelley, Marshall or Young can join Jones and Thompson to be an effective contributor.

    How well the Eagles will do depends on how quickly Pederson can turn them around; how soon they turn to Wentz, how strong their O-line plays (Cowboys are better), I’m unsure about their cornerbacks too.

  3. rlundy1123 - Jun 30, 2016 at 6:22 AM

    Totally agree on not wasting our time/money on Reggie Bush (same with Arian Foster). I would still like to see them pick up a veteran RB like Pierre Thomas, although I read somewhere that his asking price is high. I would think there would be a few other guys out there looking for work who could serve as well as Thomas, but maybe I’m just dreaming.

    I’m less concerned about other teams in the division than I am about how many games the Skins could win this season. They definitely improved the secondary, and QB/receivers will remain a strength, but there are a lot of question marks in the run game and D line. I’m not sure where Special Teams will shake out, there has been a lot of turnover.

    I can’t help thinking that they will be around .500 this year, and that’s OK by me. I think next year they add those last few pieces, and the pump will be primed for several years to come–it will be a matter of drafting good players, not filling holes like they have had to do for the last several years.

  4. colorofmyskinz - Jun 30, 2016 at 6:22 AM

    Everyone has given up on the concept that we can run the ball. I understand, Morris is gone, running back by committee last year failed, and our run blocking on the line was horrible. Call me farting rainbows but I think we will have a running attack. The line will be much better this year than last – Callahan effect after 2 years and healthy linemen to start the season. Another good reason? ReLibeus is no longer the back up center. Running back by committee did not help Morris or Jones find a grove. This year we have a violent runner that will get most of the work. We have not had a violent runner since Riggins.

    Jones is going to shock the NFL with bone crushing leveling runs through the second level defenders. Once the line frees him up to get through the first level, Jones strength, speed and size will make him absolutely feared by the second level. I have not given up on the notion that we can run like a beast.

    Let’s wait until the pads go on in 28 days before we give up on the thought of being a running team.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 30, 2016 at 10:34 AM

      I think it’s possible that our young guys on the right side become better run blockers.

      And both center and LG were problems last year, too.

      There’s reason to hope for a better running attack.

    • bangkokben - Jun 30, 2016 at 5:50 PM

      It isn’t about Morris, the running game was pathetic last year and even if every o-linemen with less than two years starting experience improves dramatically, the injured return to form, and Matt Jones becomes the back McCloughan envisions; the Redskins best way to move the ball and score points is in the passing game. Slinging the snot out of the ball and being effective doing so, WILL open things up for the running game. Forcing things with the run game — like last year — will result in frustration.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2016 at 2:52 AM

        Just to expand on your point Bang: even if they do twice as well they would still only be average. They could be twice as good and still not be good. That should be a sobering thought.

    • John - Jul 1, 2016 at 4:47 PM

      Yes, lead with the pass, but there are times that they will have to lean on the running game. Let’s hope that improves this year.

      Last year was bad because of various injuries in the line, growing the rookies and the inevitable blocking issues with Carrier and Reed. Not to mention the blocking goofs with the wide outs. Then Morris was indecisive and Jones, fumblig, injured, etc. It has to get better this year.

  5. colorofmyskinz - Jun 30, 2016 at 7:00 AM

    I don’t know if you guys have seen the Trent Murphy photo shoot but that 35 pounds he added to his body frame looks like it all went into his arms and neck. He is the most physically fit 292 pounder I think I have ever seen. The beast will be unleashed!!

    • troylok - Jun 30, 2016 at 7:29 AM

      I saw it. I’m not completely sold on his ability to anchor the position. Granted, he looks a lot less anemic than he did his first year in the league but he is still a little light to be playing end in a 3-4. I could see him being a passing downs sub this season but I don’t yet see him as an every down end.

      BTW, I thought they should have moved him to end a long time ago, but I also knew it would be a process getting him ready to play.

    • kenlinkins - Jun 30, 2016 at 8:25 AM

      One of the knocks on Murphy was his under developed upper power. If that’s where most of the added mass went to then he should be able to keep coming forward and not be stopped so easy. Another thing to watch in the preseason.

  6. garg8050 - Jun 30, 2016 at 7:00 AM

    On paper, it’s the Cowboys. Obviously they’re one solid hit on Romo to be being right back where they were last year. I think the Giants are interesting. They spent a lot of money on the defense; if it gels, with Manning and Beckham on offense, and what should be an improved o-line, they could be formidable.

  7. troylok - Jun 30, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    I don’t think the Giants did enough to fix their defense and there are still some questions with their offensive line. Philly is a mess – Chip Kelly auctioned off a lot of the future – and it will take them some time to reload.

    Dallas does seem like an obstacle but I never underestimate the Dallas Cowboys’ ability to self destruct. I am a little skeptical that Dez Bryant will ever be the same receiver he was before his foot injury. Witten, as you say, is getting old, and Romo is Mr. Fragile. However, that offensive line is pretty good and they will have a stud at running back carrying the ball.

    • bangkokben - Jun 30, 2016 at 5:52 PM

      Nobody beats Dallas…except for Dallas and they’re excellent at doing so.

  8. kenlinkins - Jun 30, 2016 at 8:33 AM

    Rich, are you predicting a passing season like 1967?

  9. mtskins - Jun 30, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    Rich, Great call on the Eagles Defense. To me one off the biggest off season moves in the NFC East was the addition Jim Schwartz as the DC there. Think it’s going to be tough sledding both inside and out of the Division this year. Hoping with the team’s additions, developing players, and some stability at the QB position they will be up to the challenge.

    Agree on Scandrick not being a “blue chip” player. I couldn’t help but notice Janoris Jenkins on the Giants List one slot ahead. I know he was a high dollar free agent but not sure I’d rate him as a blue chip player either. To me he was one of the worst off season moves in the NFC East. Especially after Norman became available and was signed to a some what similar contract.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2016 at 2:55 AM

      I completely agree about Schwartz. People are sleeping on Philly too much and he’s one of the main reasons why they shouldn’t. He could end up being one of the best offseason moves in the league and he’s right in our backyard.

  10. Dave - Jun 30, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    I don’t agree that Luck is more talented than Cousins in all areas. Kirk has a quicker release and makes quicker decisions with the ball. Being a larger QB, Luck feels he can hold the ball longer and wait for things to open up. Sometimes this works in his favor but often leads to sacks and last minute desperation passes. I’m sure if Kirk has better numbers than Luck many will give the credit to the receivers, but that’s ok, those who really know football realize that even with elite receivers the window in the NFL is very small and a QB that can hit those windows is the main ingredient.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2016 at 2:58 AM

      Andrew Luck is more athletically talented than Kirk Cousins. That’s just a fact. He was significantly better than Cousins in college and he’s been better since they were draftees. Doesn’t mean Cousins sucks and we shouldn’t sign him. Doesn’t mean Cousins can’t have the better career. But it’s reality for right now. And he’s always going to be more athletically talented. But so is RG3.

  11. renhoekk2 - Jun 30, 2016 at 11:19 AM

    I’m not sold on the Eagles defense. Yes they have some talent along the DL but their LB play is average and the secondary is below average. Yes the have a “name” at DC who has a good track record, but other than Cox who stands out as a great player? Benny Logan is good not great. Jordan Hicks played well as a rookie, Kendricks has to rebound from a down season to be considered above average again. Now I guess saying they have the best defense in the NFC East and saying they have a good defense are two different things. The bar is pretty low.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2016 at 3:01 AM

      Malcolm Jenkins? He was only like the second highest rated safety last year. Maybe that’s not elite.

      Philly has a very good defense and Schwartz is more than a name. You’re going to be very shocked or upset if you expect us to roll over them easily.

  12. hotpicksblog - Jun 30, 2016 at 6:33 PM

    rich tandler is wrong. Kirk Cousins is as talented as Luck. Cousins only has One full season behind him as the boba fife starter & Luck has 4. In 2016 Cousins will make the Pro Bowl and win the division.

  13. chimps000 - Jul 1, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    completely agree with you rich. I don’t understand the rosy view of the Cowboys except for the fact they have a national following and it seems every year we are told they will be good.

    Romo can’t stay healthy- they rushed him back last year only to rebreak his collarbone- the “magical” surgical procedure he had will not make the collarbone suddenly indestructible- I will be surprised if he lasts the season.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2016 at 2:37 PM

      I’m one of the guys who has thought the Cowboys would be pretty good this year and in the coming years assuming Romo is on the field. It’s the OLine, Romo, Dez (who truly is one of the better WRs in the league), Terrance Williams is a good #2, Zeek Elliot, the emergence of Byron Jones, and ther defensive stats getting healthy. I understand about Whitten being so old but we’re in trouble if Rico Gathers works out. Same with Jaylon Smith. But that won’t be until at least next year for both.

      However, I’m starting to change my mind. McLane’s suspension will probably get reduced to 4-6 games but that’s still brutal. They really need that guy. Especially if Lee gets hurt. Gregory may be a good player some day but he’s not now and all their DEs being suspended will hurt. Claiborne isn’t likely to break out, and I don’t even know what to think of Carr and Scandrick anymore. It’s looking a lot more grim for Dallas than I initially thought.

      But you never really know. Their D was supposed to be awful in 2014 and they actually played relatively well. And I do expect them to have a good offense as long as that line, Elliot, Romo, And Bryant are on the field. They’re always a threat as long as Romo is healthy. I still expect this division to be much improved overall in 2016.

      On that note, I’m more worried about the Giants. They could be very good this year. And I think people are sleeping on Philly too much. There’s a lot of unknowns but they have talent and could surprise people without Kelly there to ruin moral.

  14. John - Jul 1, 2016 at 5:38 PM

    When I say bring in Reggie Bush, I mention him as he is a playmaker, more so than Pierre or Foster. Besides, Reggie would not be called upon to be the prime back, running between the tackles, 25 times. He can be the guy who comes in with a different running style, that messes with the defense. That and being a dual threat as a runner and receiver out of the backfield or slot. He is electrifying!

  15. John - Jul 1, 2016 at 5:47 PM

    Assuming Dallas leans on their running game like in 2014, between that line and Elliott, they won’t have to worry so much about Romo getting hurt and they will be able to cover the defenses deficiencies. Romo is still quite good and seeing how they were without him this past seasons speaks volumes as to how valuable he is to Dallas. Archives

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