Saturday, October 12, 2013

How The Redskins Can Beat The Cowboys

Can the Redskins beat the Cowboys this week?
Yes, they can! But the key in beating Dallas is to score early and often.

That's the hard part.

You have to understand that this is one of the topics that many Redskin fans would like to avoid discussing in favor of why the defense has struggled (and is ranked dead last in the league), what's going on with special teams or various other issues including the debate over the logo/team name issue.

The fact of the matter is that the Redskins offense has been pretty lousy in the first half of each game this season. The team as a whole has an average first half point total of 7.75 points through four games compared to Dallas' 16.2 points average through their first five games of the year. If you remove the Redskins three defensive scores of the season (all during the first half of their games played), then the average plummets even further to a pitiful 2.5 points per 1st half.

But here's the good news, the Redskins may have started to figure out what they need to do in order to get points on the board. There have been moments in each of the last two games where the team shown signs of improvement in their drives. This along with being able to execute the plays will give the Redskins a chance to score while keeping the ball out of Tony Romo's hands. So let's take a look at what the Redskins need to do when they face Dallas on Sunday Night.

The Template

Image via. A heavy dose of Alfred Morris may help the Redskins on Sunday night.
Image via.
A heavy dose of Alfred Morris may help the Redskins on Sunday night.
With all the hype and controversy on Robert Griffin III's knee, people tend to forget that the Redskins are a run first team. There is a reason that the Redskins had such success in 2012 and were ranked as the league's number one rushing offense. With the team not getting blown out by an opponent, Washington has had the chance to run the ball in the last two games and it has worked well. When the Redskins can run the ball, it sets up play action passes and opens up passing lanes that Griffin can exploit. Not only does this give the team momentum, but it keeps the Cowboys offense on the sidelines and keeps the Redskins defenders fresh.

The key on Sunday will be for the Redskins to extend drives, move the ball and most importantly execute their plays. Penalties and mistakes have been key for the offense this season. The good news is that in their last game, the team only had three penalties called against them.

RGIII's Return?

While I think establishing the run will be critical for Washington in this game, it may not be the easiest of tasks. Dallas has the fourth best rushing defense (yards allowed) in the league. They may force Robert Griffin III to throw the ball at the start of the game. If this is the case, the Redskins will need to see the RGIII of 2012, at least the accurate version of himself, to make an appearance early.
This has been one of the main problems for the offense this season as Griffin tends to take at least a quarter to get into his groove. He won't have time to do that this week if Dallas proves to be formidable against the run and dare him to throw the ball. Griffin doesn't have to be the deep ball threat, but what he needs to do is keep drives alive with his feet and his arm. He needs to get key first downs and to be accurate.

Dallas has the 2nd worst passing defense in the league through five weeks, so Robert will have opportunities to get the ball down field and to make plays. The key will be to determine when to go deep and when to get some quick yards. Hopefully, Kyle Shanahan will help develop a strong gameplan with having an extra week to prepare for Dallas.

Keep Dallas O off the field early and often

The Cowboys like to strike first and put the opponent on their heels early in games. Since this game is in Jerry World, the Cowboys would love to get an early 10-0 or 14-0 lead on Washington and let the crowd do the rest to help shut down the Redskins.

But there's another reason Dallas would like to get ahead. It's because sometimes they have trouble scoring after the first half. In a few games this year opposing defenses have been able to make adjustments against the Dallas offense. Although many have trashed the Redskins defense and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett (some criticisms are justified), in the last two games the Redskins have done an excellent job of shutting down offenses on third down and limiting their scores. If the Redskins can shut down or limit Dallas' scores early in the game, there is a chance they may shut them out completely at the end.

Opposite Directions

Through the first 5 weeks of the NFL season the Redskins and Cowboys have been going in opposite directions. Dallas scores early, Washington doesn't. Dallas moves the ball the Redskins have been three and out. Yet, as we head towards week six, there has been a change in Washington as the team seems to be coming back to the 2012 form. It's a slow process. Much slower than anybody expected, but it is happening. Dallas is still a formidable threat, but they still make key mistakes like they have been doing for the past 5-10 years. If the Redskins can generate some offense early and limit Dallas, they have a good chance of beating the Cowboys this week.

Cover Photo Credit: (AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance)

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