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Redskins

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 31, Redskins 26

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys rolls out to pass during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

When you lose the battles of yardage, time of possession and collect 0 turnovers, you are supposed to lose. That is exactly what happened on Thanksgiving Day. Kirk Cousins threw for 449 yards (almost 100 yards more than the entire Cowboys offense) and 3 TDs for a passer rating of over 120, DeSean Jackson burnt the secondary worse than my turkey (thanks broken meat thermometer), the Redskins held on to the ball for 7 minutes longer than the Cowboys. Yet somehow, the Cowboys won that game and it wasn’t really as close as the score would lead you to believe. The Cowboys won this game thanks to the kickers, the one area of the game that the Cowboys won. Dan Bailey didn’t miss anything and Dustin Hopkins did. Two missed field goals (43 and 55 yards) in the first half which left the Redskins chasing those points the remainder of the game. They also failed to convert a 2 point conversion in the 4th quarter thanks to Sean Lee’s interception. I don’t know about the rest of you, but its games like this that remind me just how good Dan Bailey is and how bad our kicking game was before Mr. Bailey graced us with his presence.

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Offensively, the Cowboys could do pretty much whatever they wanted. The Cowboys punted on 2 their 9 drives converting 4 into touchdowns and 1 into a Field Goal (46 yards). Dak Prescott ended his day completing 17 of 24 passes for 195 yards with 1 TD and a Passer Rating of 108.9. Dak completed 2 passes over 20 yards, the longest pass went to Dez in the 4th quarter for 26 yards. Ezekiel Elliott ran for only 97 yards, the second straight game he has been held to under 100.  I say ‘only’ due to the fact that on the first drive alone he ran for 47. Going into this game I expected Zeke to eat to his fill but somehow, the team only rushed for 163 yards. The Cowboys were able to play nearly error free football on offense the entire game and as a result walked away with their 10th straight win.

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Redskins’ rookie running back, Robert Kelley, was asked this week about the Redskins/Cowboys rivalry and he said, ‘Nobody here likes the Dallas Cowgirls’. Kelley was beat up by said ‘Cowgirls’ the entire day finishing the day with 37 yards on 14 carries for an average of 2.6 ypc and a long run of 8 yards.  Kelley was obviously feeling pretty good about himself at the time of his comments as he had averaged over 100 yards over the previous 3 weeks. The Cowboys defensive line continued to hold the opponent’s run game in check while failing to get anything resembling a pass rush. Kirk Cousins was able to drop back 53 times without being sacked even once. Cousins completed 41 of those 53 passes for 449 yards, 3 TDs and no ‘official’ interceptions (Sean Lee intercepted a pass on a 2 pt conversion attempt). DeSean Jackson finished the day with 118 yards and Jordan Reed had 95 yards. The Cowboys secondary was exposed yet again allowing over 400 yards through the air for the second time in 3 weeks. Good news is, safety Barry Church is set to return to practice on Sunday ahead of Thursday’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

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Keys to the Game Scorecard:

  • RUN! The Cowboys ran for 163 yards as a team, far less than they could have. The Redskins were burnt on the first drive but quickly got things together, holding Zeke to 50 yards over the remainder of the game.
  • Don’t let DeSean Jackson get behind you. DeSean Jackson finished for 118 yards, 67 of them coming on 1 catch when he got rookie CB Anthony Brown to bite on a small hitch in which he turned into 10 yards of separation.
  • Dominate time of Possession. 35:00-25:00. Well, I was close on the split, just in the wrong direction. The Redskins held the ball for over 33 minutes vs the Cowboys 26.

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WEEK12 PREVIEW: Redskins (6-3-1) @ Cowboys (9-1)

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A lot has changed since the last time these two teams met in week 2. One team left 1-1 and the other 0-2 and they have lost a combined 1 game since. The week 2 matchup featured a Cowboys rookie backfield that was just beginning to come into its own and a Kirk Cousins that was the focal point of everyone’s laughter. The interception by Barry Church 6 yards into the end zone spelled disaster in the 4th quarter as the Cowboys drove down the field to score the game’s last touchdown to secure a 4 point lead. Just to put everyone back in the mindset after that game, here is my opening paragraph:

After the Cowboys win in Landover, one thing is for certain: the Redskins have issues. Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards and 1 TD, but should have had 3 more easy ones as Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson both had breakaways well past the Cowboy secondary only to be over thrown. Redskins Running Back, Matt Jones, had a good game as well rushing for 61 yards on only 13 carries. Why Jay Gruden doesn’t run more is beyond me. Not saying Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is perfect, but he did try to be less predictable with an onside kick in the middle of the game, which caught both teams off guard when the ball didn’t travel the 10 yards required. I want to feel good about this win, I do, but watching all the blatant missed opportunities by Washington makes it difficult.

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Fast forward 10 weeks and the Redskins appear to have righted the ship. All those missed opportunities aren’t missed anymore as the Redskins rank 3rd in the league in passing yards per game and 9th in scoring. Kirk Cousins has a 98.8 passer rating on the season and only 4 interceptions since week 2. The Cowboys secondary had a hard time containing DeSean Jackson and will be even more hard pressed this week without Barry Church and Morris Claiborne helping cover the talented receiving core of this Washington team. The Skins rushing attack is no slouch either, ranking 10th with 117.1 ypg. This team will score, but to win, they need to score over 24 points per game as their defense is among the bottom feeders of the league allowing 23.3 points per game.

The Redskins aren’t the only ones to have improved since week 2. The Cowboys star running back has gone from averaging 67 ypg to 121 ypg since and Dak Prescott has earned the starting quarterback job over a healthy Tony Romo. The Cowboys put up over 100 yards rushing on the top ranked Ravens rush defense last week and will look to continue that domination this week vs the 22nd ranked Redskins D.

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This game will be decided by which high powered offense can beat the weaker defense the worst. The Redskins vaunted pass attack vs the injured Cowboys secondary or the Cowboys vicious running game vs a bottom feeder Redskins front 7? What the Cowboys have going is their strength also keeps their opponents strength off the field. The Cowboys need to run the ball well and punish this Redskins defense by way of numerous 7-8 minute drives in order to prevent their own weakness from being too exposed.

Keys to the Game:

  • RUN! Get the Offensive line moving downhill and wear the Redskins defense out. The longer the Cowboys have the ball, the less time Kirk Cousins has to throw to DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder.
  • Don’t let DeSean Jackson get behind you. With Morris Claiborne and Barry Church still out, look for the Redskins to attack this Dallas secondary early and often. We saw different Redskins WRs behind the coverage on numerous plays in the week 2 matchup only to have Cousins overthrow them
  • For the sake of having a 3rd key: Dominate time of Possession. This needs to be as lopsided as possible. 35:00-25:00 or more.

Prediction:

Redskins: 24

Cowboys: 31

For more information on The Landry Letters Blog, please visit www.thelandryletters.com

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 27 – Redskins 23

After the Cowboys win in Landover, one thing is for certain: the Redskins have issues. Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards and 1 TD, but should have had 3 more easy ones as Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson both had breakaways well past the Cowboy secondary only to be over thrown. Redskins Running Back, Matt Jones, had a good game as well rushing for 61 yards on only 13 carries. Why Jay Gruden doesn’t run more is beyond me. Not saying Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is perfect, but he did try to be less predictable with an onside kick in the middle of the game, which caught both teams off guard when the ball didn’t travel the 10 yards required. I want to feel good about this win, I do, but watching all the blatant missed opportunities by Washington makes it difficult. However, this isn’t a Redskins blog, so HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!

Rush to Judgment

Dak Prescott was full of poise and grace as he threw for 292 yards completing 22/30 attempts and Zeke Elliott rushed for 83 yards on 21 attempts for an average of 4 yards per carry. Zeke was definitely improved, but the rookie has room to grow. He ‘left some meat on the bone’ so to speak. The Offensive line looked to avenge their lack luster run blocking from week 1 and they did. They were opening holes and getting to the second level consistently. One thing to remember for you rush to judgment on Zeke, he had a total of 14 snaps in the preseason. He will continue to improve as he adapts to the pace of the NFL and gets a feel for the offensive line. Josh Norman held Dez to 0 catches, but primarily played on the left side of the field so Dez was able to catch 7 for 102 yards against Baushaud Breeland, the point is moot.

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Claiborne Supremacy

Morris Claiborne played about as well as we’ve ever seen. He was quick and made stops with minimal contact which is exactly what you want out of your corners. He gets the defensive player of the game from me. What we’ve longed for out of Mo since we moved WAY up to get him in the first round of 2012 finally came to fruition. Also showing defensive prowess was Safety Barry Church and Linebacker Justin Durant. Church came away with a crucial interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter and Durant almost had one with 2 minutes to go in the game. It wasn’t all good on the defensive side, however. The secondary got flat out burnt more than once but since Kirk Cousins was the passer, they fell incomplete. They left Josh Doctson, the 1st round pick WR out of TCU, unattended to triple team DeSean Jackson which cost them 57 yards and would’ve resulted in a TD if not for the closing speed and hustle of Safety Byron Jones. The Defensive line looked strong but lacked the speed to get to Cousins. This is expected when you are playing four tackles on your line. Due to suspensions and injury, the boys have been forced to play Benson Mayowa and Jack Crawford at the end spots.

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Keys to the Game

Before the game, I outlined 3 keys for a Cowboys win over the Redskins.  Let’s take a look and see how the ‘Boys did.

  • Dallas MUST establish the run early.  – Zeke ran the ball well and the offensive line showed the fire they lacked in the opener.
  • Dez Bryant needs to be targeted like the Elite receiver we all believe he is. – Dez eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the first time in 6 straight games. He didn’t have a catch against Josh Norman, though.
  • The Cowboys need to have a middle linebacker.  – Still an issue. Matt Jones rushed for almost 5 yards a carry. I wish I could say we had a guy coming back off of injury or short suspension, but we don’t. Rolando McClain is 2 games into his 10 game suspension, however, no one is planning on him to ever play a snap again for the Cowboys.

Two of three keys was good enough for Dallas to earn a win in Washington and with Chicago and San Francisco in weeks 3 and 4, the Cowboys are well on their way to a good start in 2016.

Why the Dallas Cowboys will win the East

This time last year very few people thought the Washington Redskins had any real chance of winning the NFC East. However, they were able to prove critics wrong after starting the season 4-6. The Skins ultimately finished with 9 wins, but at one point last year it was widely believed that 7 wins would be enough to clinch the East. In other words, no one expected the division to be competitive in the slightest, and for the most part they were right. The Redskins were able to finish strong, winning 5 of their last 6 and clinching the division by 2 games, but their outlook for 2016 has not greatly improved. With Kirk Cousins at the helm, the Redskins should have a very similar year in 2016, but 8-9 wins will not be enough this year. No team has won back to back NFC East titles since the 2003 & 2004 Eagles, and that’s not going to be changing this year. The Dallas Cowboys are primed to have a rebound year and take back what was rightfully theirs in 2014.

Similar to 2015, the NFC East is not expected to be very strong in 2016 either. Let’s take a quick look around the division to see what Cowboy fans can expect.Undoubtedly, the Cowboys had the best team in the NFC East last year. Unfortunately, their best players were watching in street clothes on the sidelines for most of 2015.  But if the Cowboys can keep Romo upright in 2016, they should be resting their starters as early as Week 16. I know that’s a bold statement to make after going just 4-12 last year, but don’t forget that the Cowboys were 3-1 when Romo started last year and the offense has only improved in 2016. With the addition of Ezekiel (Zeke) Elliott at RB, the Cowboys should have a top 3 offense and lead the NFL in time of possession (much like the 2014 Cowboys who were 3rd in TOP). In order for this to happen, the Cowboys’ key players will need to stay healthy and the defense will have to perform a few notches above “absolutely terrible” (mediocre will do just fine).

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NEW YORK GIANTS

The Giants are entering the post-Tom Coughlin era, and there is uncertainty within the Giants organization without Coughlin running the show. However, the G-Men did beef up their secondary in the offseason, and promoted offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, to head coach. McAdoo’s promotion was a move to ensure Eli Manning replicates the past two seasons, where he had a combined 65 TDs and 28 Ints under McAdoo. They finished 6-10 last year, and I believe they will be slightly better by a win or two, but not much more.

Sam Bradford

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

On the other hand, the Eagles are moving on from the failed Chip Kelly experiment by replacing him with Doug Pederson, the Chiefs offensive coordinator. They drafted Carson Wentz with the 2nd overall pick, but don’t expect him to have any impact this year unless Sam Bradford goes down again (which is very possible). The Eagles will chalk this up to a rebuilding year with a new head coach and QB. That just leaves the Redskins!

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

As I noted earlier, the Redskins surprised everyone last year, but the reigning champs will have a target on their backs in 2016. Remember how the Redskins won 5 of their last 6 games in 2015? Well, their only loss in that span was to the Cowboys at Fedex Field with Matt Cassell at the helm (Yes, Matt Cassell did win a game). Keep in mind, this was the only game the Cowboys won last year without a QB named Romo. If Cassell’s Cowboys could stomp into Landover and beat the Skins last December, I think it’s safe to say the Skins will have their hands full when playing the Boys with a healthy set of triplets this year. However, with Kirk Cousins improving his game, the Redskins will be a decent team in 2016 and hover around the .500 mark.

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And then there was one! This Cowboy team will win more than 10 games for one, and only one reason: The Offense. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in football (it’s not even close). The O-Line will have to keep Romo clean and open up holes for Zeke and company, but this should not be a concern for any Cowboy fan. They legitimately have four pro bowlers on the O-line, which may be the 2nd best line in Cowboys history. They also have a top 5 WR in the league coupled with a future hall of famer in Jason Witten. Not to mention they selected the best running back in the draft, and maybe even the past few drafts with Zeke. Outside of tough road match-ups against the Packers, Steelers, and Vikings, the Cowboys’ schedule is pretty favorable. I see this team winning 10 or 11 games this year, which will be more than enough to clinch the NFC “LEast”.

It will all come down to keeping Romo healthy. If Romo stays healthy, the Boys are going to light up the scoreboard and control the game clock, minimizing the exposure to the defense. I know Romo’s health is sketchy at best; however, Romo did his part by having the Mumford procedure to prevent another clavicle injury. In short, a small portion of his collarbone was shaved to prevent grinding so it will not break when he lands on his shoulder. This procedure is not guaranteed to work, but the chances are high that it will. A Romo injury will be the only reason the Cowboys will not be hosting a playoff game in January. Rest easy Cowboys fans, this year the Cowboys’ win total will be double-digits and they will win the NFC East for the 22nd time.

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