The Washington Redskins needed a win in the worst way in week 7 against the Tennessee Titans, and they delivered, albeit in unconventional fashion. The newest star for the team finally imploded and from the ashes, a new one was born. Quarterback Colt McCoy will start his first NFL game in almost three years on Monday Night Football against the hated foe Dallas Cowboys. This also marks a return to Texas for McCoy, where he enjoyed a successful collegiate career with the Longhorns. While it remains to be seen when Robert Griffin III will return, Colt McCoy seems to be the starter moving forward until that time.
The 6-1 Dallas Cowboys find themselves in a unique position heading into November: not much is going wrong for them. Demarco Murray broke the NFL’s record for most consecutive 100 yard rushing games. Tony Romo looks like he can do no wrong. The defense, after much speculation about a complete debacle, has played well enough to not allow Romo to make his now infamous late game mistakes while trying to bring his team back from a deficit.
But let’s pump the brakes on “America’s Team” for a second (which, by the way, they no longer are.) Of the six wins Dallas currently owns, here are the current records of those teams: 2-5, 2-4, 2-4, 3-4, 3-3, 3-4. This equals up to a combined winning percentage of 66%. The Cowboys have yet to post a victory against a team that is currently above .500. While this may or may not indicate the direction their franchise will go for the remainder of the year, it does indicate that this team is not the juggernaut that most pundits anoint them as.
The problem here is, the Washington Redskins may not pose much of a threat either to Dallas. The Redskins are in roster turmoil, starting a quarterback who hasn’t started a game since 2012. In addition, their “franchise” player is now shelved for the season while the injuries continue to pile up for this already thin roster. It’s going to take limited mistakes and a lot of heart for the Redskins to steal a victory on Monday night.
Keys to the game
Stop beating yourselves
It is going to take close to zero mistakes for this Washington team to pull out a victory against a superiorly talented Cowboys squad. So far this season, the Redskins have been hampered by mental errors in all three phases of the game. The offense has committed costly penalties, often leading to huge third down distances, which the Redskins are among the worst in the league converting. On the defensive side of the ball, wrong reads and often players being out of position have resulted in untimely huge plays for the opposition. And special teams, while at times have looked to improve, are only marginally better than last year’s debacle.
The Cowboys of the past are no more. This team appears to be a cohesive unit that limits errors. If the Redskins want to have a chance on Monday night in the house the Jerry built, they will have to play focused.
Pretty simple. Murray has been among the best, if not the best, running back in the NFL this season. He is as locked in as it gets. If the Redskins want to have any hope of containing Dallas’ dynamic receivers and tight ends, it will start with making them one dimensional. If Demarco Murray can be contained, possibly to 80 yards or less, the Redskins should still be in the game.
Get to Romo
Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when he is under duress. Most want to proclaim Romo as a “choker”, which may be true at times, but this isn’t because the pass rush is getting to him. Time and time again, Romo proves that he can extend plays by keeping his eyes down the field. He rarely gives up on a play. Meanwhile, defenders will do just that, and someone ends up being wide open downfield. It’s maddening. It’s inexplicable at times. But he does it.
The key here is to produce actual pass rush that will finish the play. Defensive end Jason Hatcher, in his return to Dallas, needs to feed off of the adrenaline that he will undoubtedly have playing his former team in AT&T Stadium. Yes, Brian Orakpo is gone, but rookie OLB Trent Murphy is quietly coming along and Ryan Kerrigan is on pace to accumulating career-high sack totals. He will need to add to them in this matchup. Additionally, the Redskins secondary needs to be ready and in position in case Romo is forced into one of those mistakes. They won’t come often.
While Redskins fans would like to think (and hope) that these matchups are always close, this one will unfortunately be pretty ugly. Colt McCoy will struggle mightily here, and fans will be calling for Griffin to start before the bye week. The defense also struggles as the Redskins will fall to 2-6. There is good news though! I think the Redskins get it done against a dreadful Minnesota team. That’s 3-6 headed into the bye. Anyone else up for an RG3 return and to party like it’s 2012? Cowboys 35, Redskins 13
The Cowboys might have the best offensive line in football and have their running game firing on all cylinders right now. I think despite his success in the second half against Tennessee, Colt McCoy will have trouble moving the offense on Monday night. Cowboys 31, Redskins 17
Redskins play well but can’t keep up with Cowboys on either side of the ball. Cowboys 27, Redskins 17
This prediction is under the assumption that Colt McCoy is the starting quarterback Monday night. The Cowboys’ offense powered by their record-breaking run game has been excellent this season and almost certainly will put up a good amount of points (they’re 5th in points/game). That’s a serious problem for the Redskins as the Washington offense will most likely look to run the ball and be conservative with a third-string quarterback under center. That style of offense is poorly suited for a ‘shootout’ where they’ll be relied upon to keep up with Dallas’ scoring. Cowboys 31, Redskins 17
The Cowboys are clicking on pretty much every cylinder right now, offensively for sure. I personally do not want RG3 to play as this season is more or less lost and there is no reason to risk a player who NEEDS to be ready for many years to come. Only way the Redskins win this game are in a shootout against a team that lacks a pass rush and if the defense is able to slyly cause a few turnovers. Unfortunately, a lot of things would have to bounce the Redskins way to even stay close. Cowboys 31, Redskins 17