There are certain things in life that happen because they need to. There are other things in life that happen because they have to. Then there are those things in life that happen because we let them. I’m kind of caught in between where the Redskins’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles would fall. On one hand, I’m like “well, it was the first game of the season, and maybe this type of loss needed to happen early in order for them to reestablish their team focus”. Then there is a part of me that says “they would not have lost that game if they were better mentally prepared, and did the things they control like make in-game adjustments”. The cliche “a tale of two halves” more than applied in the Redskins 32-27 loss to the Eagles last Sunday. The Redskins got off to a hot start, and were up 17-0, and dare I say DOMINATING the Eagles in the first half of play before the Eagles scored a touchdown to DeSean Jackson late in the second quarter. After that, it was almost as if the Redskins said to themselves as a team “welp, we scored enough points and proved that we can play with them...maybe they will just quit at the half”. NEGATIVE.
That’s exactly what did not transpire. But this week, we aren’t going to use that as a reason to be pessimistic. This week, we are no longer going to focus on the way we finished last week’s game because we can’t change it...because this week, ladies and gentlemen, is DALLAS week. The Cowboys do not care that the Redskins suffered a demoralizing loss to the Eagles. The Redskins don’t care that the Cowboys looked like Super Bowl contenders against the New York Giants last Sunday. These teams know one thing: they each want to walk out of FedEx Field Sunday with a division win, and one step closer to a division title. The Cowboys’ 35-17 victory over the Giants last week was nothing short of impressive from every facet of the game. They neutralized the Giant offense (for the most part) and defensively dictated the game. Quarterback Dak Prescott had literally the game of his career last week throwing for over four hundred yards and four touchdowns. Some may say they are glad he got that type of performance out of his system prior to Sunday’s game against the Skins. Others may be of the opinion that Dak is playing for a contract and is on a mission to prove he is worth NFL top dollar.
Redskin quarterback Case Keenum wasn’t bad last week against the Eagles and at times looked great. This week, he will look to build off of that performance. Keenum and the Redskin offense will try to duplicate last week’s production in the first half for all four quarters against the Dallas Cowboys. Keenum will face a fast and physical Cowboy defense in his first home opener as Redskins starting quarterback. The offensive line last week kept a clean pocket for Case during the first half, and seemingly slowed down Philly’s stout front seven. This to me was an indication that they have the PHYSICAL ability as an offensive line to compete with any front seven in the league if they are prepared mentally and schematically. The concerning thing was in the second half, they looked like an offensive line that self-destructed and “tapped out”.
The offense will once again be without Jordan Reed and now second year running back Derrius Guice has been put on IR due to a knee injury he suffered last week against Philadelphia. Enter future Hall of Famer and Redskins’ 2018 offensive player of the year, running back Adrian Peterson, who was ironically inactive last week. Peterson believes he has a lot to prove this week and for the rest of the season after he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career last Sunday. If I were head coach Jay Gruden, I would use his motivation to my advantage and get him as many touches as he can. Peterson will be running angry and with a vengeance this week. I feel sorry for whoever gets in his way...well, not in actuality. I mean, we’re talking about the Dallas Cowboys. Who really ever feels sorry for them?
The young wide receiver corps last week looked promising and they should only continue to get better this week against the Cowboys. The key will be to neutralize the Cowboy pass rush with Demarcus Lawrence and keep linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch from being disruptive. The Cowboys believe they have all the pieces necessary to make a run not only for the division again, but for a Super Bowl championship. If the Redskins are able to control the tempo of the game, not turnover the football, and maybe cause a turnover or three, they will be in good shape in the fourth quarter.
Defensively this week, the Redskins need to be focused and well prepared for a Dallas Cowboy offense that does everything well. They have a quarterback, one of the best offensive lines in the league, arguably the best running back in the game, and a revamped wide receiver group. They can beat anyone, anywhere or anyhow. The Redskin defense will miss their best defensive lineman, Jonathan Allen, who has been ruled out Sunday. But all is not lost. The great thing about this rivalry is that we have seen year after year that it doesn’t matter who does or who doesn’t have the best talent. It’s always anybody’s day and that’s the key for the Redskins. They need to WIN THE DAY and build from there.
The defense has enough talent to give Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott problems. They match up pretty well on paper. The Redskins have fast linebackers that can also seemingly guard tight ends. The formerly retired Jason Witten proved last week he still knows how to get open (I’m sick of Jason Witten, but damn if I don’t respect that guy). The Redskins’ outside linebackers, namely Ryan Kerrigan, did not show up last week. This week, if the Redskins are going to have a fighting chance, they will need all hands on deck to include rookie 1st round pick Montez Sweat, and veteran Ryan Anderson to be contributors. The Redskins got less than the minimum from that group of outside linebackers last week. They cannot afford that lack of production as they need a team effort from the defensive front seven especially with Jonathan Allen out.
The defensive backs, well, they need to come together as a unit and decide regardless of what the coordinator is doing, that they are just not going to get beat. BOTTOMLINE. DON’T GET BEAT. Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky can call whatever coverages he wants, but at some point, as a competitor, you have to say, “this is what we are doing, because this is what is going to work”. Now, in Manusky’s defense, he may be calling the perfect plays, and the secondary just may not be executing appropriately. In that case, it becomes a “manhood issue” in the words of Redskins great Doc Walker.
At the end of the day, I want to see this Redskin team play hard. I want to see this team play angry. I don’t even care if they pick up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty early. Just let the Cowboys know they are not going to walk into your house and take whatever they want without leaving battered and bruise. Of course I want the Redskins to win Sunday, but beyond that, I want them to beat Dallas up. I want the Redskins to physically and mentally break them down. I want Dallas to be reminded of the failures that they truly are because they have entirely too much hope for my liking. In case anybody reading this can’t tell, I’m far from a Dallas fan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the product that they are putting on the field Sunday. I am without question concerned about Sunday’s game. But concern and fear are two different entities. Concern is understanding what you have in front of you and respecting it. Fear is having apprehension and doubt in your ability to overcome whatever obstacle is in front of you. That ain’t the Redskins (yes, I meant “ain’t”). This Sunday is a statement game for not only this team, but for the coaching staff. In the words of former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott, “Can’t Wait”. Redskins upset a majority Dallas crowd 27-23. As you were...