Jerry Jones's "moral victory" over the Denver Broncos will mean nothing if his Dallas Cowboys suffer a letdown against the Washington Redskins this Sunday night at AT&T Stadium (8:25, NBC). If the Cowboys are seeking any further motivation, other than taking another step toward ending a three year playoff drought, they should look no further than last season's games against the 'Skins.
In a performance that made many Cowboys fans throw up their Thanksgiving dinner, the Cowboys put up a turkey when the Redskins came to Arlington last November. They fell behind 28-3 at halftime before making a comeback that fell just short, losing the game 38-31. As painful as the Thanksgiving loss was, the later Washington loss undoubtedly stung more. In the final game of the 2012 regular season, which served as a de facto NFC East championship game, the Redskins topped the Cowboys 28-18 to clinch their first division title since 1999, and their first sweep of the Cowboys since 2005.
The most polarizing and scrutinized figure on the Redskins is obviously QB Robert Griffin III. Griffin captured the attention of the nation with his amazing rookie season, but his shaky knee has temporarily grounded the explosive QB. To say he has had a sophomore slump is being friendly. After a five interception rookie year, he has already tossed four to opposing teams this season. His completion percentage numbers are also down (65.6% to 62.4%) as well as his rushing average (6.8 to 4.0). While I do believe Griffin will return to the form we saw last season eventually, I don't believe we'll see it this week, even though he's had an extra week to prepare thanks to the Week 5 bye.
However, even if Griffin is grounded, the Cowboys learned the hard way that the Redskins don't need Griffin to post monstrous numbers like he did on Thanksgiving (19-27, 304 yards, 4 TD's) to win. In the season finale last year, Griffin posted pedestrian numbers (9-18, 100 yards, 63 rushing yards, 1 TD), but the Cowboys were burned by RB Alfred Morris who ran for 200 yards and 3 TD's. Like Griffin, Morris has also struggled in his second year, but that could be attributed to the fact that Washington has fallen behind early in all of their games this season, leading them to ignore the run game. He has just one 100 yard game (He ran for 107 in a Week 2 loss to Green Bay), but his season high in carries came in Washington's last game against Oakland, when he had 16. One of the biggest reasons the Cowboys couldn't finish off the Broncos last week was that they couldn't stop Denver RB Knowson Moreno, allowing him to tally 150 total yards, not to mention the previous week's loss against San Diego, a game that saw RB Danny Woodhead tally 2 touchdowns in addition to 86 total yards on 10 combined carries and receptions.
Tony Romo cannot be blamed for last week's loss. Sure, last year's dreadful season finale was on him (he threw 3 picks) but when you score 48 points and still lose, put that one on the defense. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin told the media to point the finger at him. That's nice and all, but it means nothing if the defense blows it again. The Cowboys defense is coming off back to back rough weeks against top five offenses Denver (1st) and San Diego (5th). Washington's offense lacks the firepower of 2012, but they still rank 8th in the NFL in total offense with 390.8 yards per game.
The Cowboys have already sent a message through the release of safety Will Allen that defensive duds will not be tolerated. The defense must step it up this week. As we've seen this season, the fragile Griffin makes bad choices when the pressure is on him. After failing to sack Peyton Manning once last week, it's important the Cowboys get to the quarterback early. The defense does a get a break when it comes to Washington's receivers. Other than Pierre Garcon (29 receptions, 339 yards, 2 TD's) nobody in the Washington receiving corps is particularly frightening, although Santana Moss always seems to save his best stuff for Dallas.
On the offensive side of things, the Cowboys have a golden opportunity to expose a Washington defense allowing a league high 440.5 YPG, in addition to 28 points per game, which ties for 6th with Chicago. With so much of the media focused on his one gaffe from Sunday this week, you may have already forgotten that Romo threw for 506 yards and 5 TD's in a valiant effort to stop the Broncos. After four weeks of conservative football, none of which saw Romo reach the 300 yard plateau, Romo was allowed to revert to his gun slinging ways on Sunday, and, interception notwithstanding, it paid off. Three receivers tallied 100 plus yards and the Cowboys scored 48 points.
We all know that the Cowboys have receivers capable of putting up outstanding numbers, like Dez Bryant (6 receptions, 141 yards, 2 TD's on Sunday), Jason Witten (7 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD) and Miles Austin, who has been practicing this week and could return from a hamstring injury on Sunday. However, it was guys like Terrence Williams (4 receptions, game high 151 yards, 1 TD) and Cole Beasley (4 receptions 47 yards, 1 TD) that stood out last week. With the Redskins no doubt focusing on the big names, it will be important for the "other guys" to keep playing at this level on Sunday night.
The Washington Redskins will always be a rival to the Dallas Cowboys. The rivalry started before the Cowboys had played a down of NFL football, as Cowboys founder Clint Murchison Jr., seeking revenge on Redskins owner George Preston Marshall for changing terms of a deal that would've sold the Redskins to Murchison at the last second, bought the rights to the infamous Redskins fight song "Hail to the Redskins" from the song's composer, who had a falling out with Marshall. Murchison agreed to return the song to Washington only when Marshall, the one naysayer against a pro football franchise in Dallas, gave his approval to award the NFL's 13th franchise to Dallas. Since then, the Cowboys have enjoyed more of the rivalry's better moments, leading the all time series 62-44-2, though the Redskins have had their moments...like the two wins in 2012 that knocked Dallas from the playoffs.
The Cowboys, despite their 2-3 record, have been crowned the class of the NFC East by many pundits, and it's time to live up to that statement. Standing strong against the mighty Broncos is cute and all, but this isn't college football, where a game like that will get you some respect in the latest rankings. A team needs wins to make the playoffs, and with a visit to Philadelphia on the docket next week, the Cowboys better get one against a Redskins team that ranks last in defense. There's no reason to think the Cowboys couldn't be 5-0 entering this matchup with a hated rival. It's time to start playing like the undefeated team they could've been.
Prediction: Cowboys 37, Redskins 21
DAL 27, PHI 7: Cowboys Winning Every Phase, Build Big Halftime Lead
The Dallas Cowboys certainly heard about Doug Pederson's win guarantee, but did anyone tell Pederson's team? The Philadelphia Eagles have fumbled and flopped their way into a 24-7 halftime deficit in this pivotal Week 7 rivalry game.
Two early fumbles by Dallas Goedert and Carson Wentz helped set up the Cowboys for short fields and touchdowns. Dallas has scored points on all but one of their drives in the first half.
Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best game of 2019 so far. He has 65 rushing yards and another 25 through the air, with one touchdown coming on the ground.
Dak Prescott has been sharp with 161 passing yards on 15-of-20 passing. He connected with Blake Jarwin on the team's second touchdown of the night.
Dallas' other touchdown came on a pretty toss play to Tavon Austin, who used his athletic skills to juke one Eagle and then outrace the rest to the endzone.
Brett Maher finished the half with an amazing 63-yard field goal. He also made one from 26 yards earlier.
Standouts on defense so far include DeMarcus Lawrence, who is playing up to his verbal response to the Eagles' head coach earlier this week. We've also some big plays from Maliek Collins, Jourdan Lewis, and Robert Quinn.
Leighton Vander Esch had to leave the game with a neck injury and is questionable to return. Hopefully, the Cowboys won't need him.
Great start by the good guys! Let's keep it going!
Eagles @ Cowboys 2019: Gameday Inactives for Both Teams
Kickoff between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7 of the 2019 season is almost upon us. The teams have now officially declared their inactive players for tonight, and the Cowboys' list comes with many sighs of relief.
After a week of worrying that several starters and other key players could miss this pivotal game, Dallas should have most of them on hand.
Cowboys inactives: Devin Smith, Anthony Brown, Luke Gifford, Adam Redmond, Brandon Knight, Justin Hamilton, Dorance Armstrong.
Losing Anthony Brown, who is essentially a starter as the nickel corner, isn't great. But it will mean more playing time for Jourdan Lewis, and to some that could be a blessing in disguise.
As for Philadelphia, their inactive list features several key names
Ronald Darby is active for the #Eagles. Rookie Shareef Miller active for the first time. The inactives for tonight's game against the Cowboys: DeSean Jackson, Avonte Maddox, Darren Sproles, Nigel Bradham, Nate Herbig, Jason Peters, Tim Jernigan.
You can read more analysis of the Eagles' missing players here. But just to summarize, that's two offensive starters(Jackson, Peters) and three from the defense (Jernigan, Bradham, Maddox) who won't be playing in Dallas tonight.
Will these injuries decide the game? Will Dallas take advantage or will Philly overcome?
We're about to find out!
Cowboys Wishlist: Let Tony Pollard and Blake Jarwin Play
Welcome to primetime. Tonight, the Philadelphia Eagles will play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium for an exciting NFC East matchup. The Cowboys are slightly favored for this one, but it will not be an easy game. Both teams sit at 3-3 and will fight for the division lead. It'll be an exciting night for Cowboys Nation.
Without further ado, let's get to this week's Cowboys Wishlist!
Wish #1: Everyone Plays
After a week of uncertainty regarding the health of several key players, the Cowboys are expected to play with both their staring offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, WR Amari Cooper and CB Byron Jones. That's certainly surprising, but it's great news to hear ahead of such an important game for the Cowboys.
On the other hand, the Philadelphia Eagles will miss plenty of starters including OT Jason Peters. Of course, nothing will be official for Dallas until the inactives are announced. I wish the inactives list matches early reports of these key players being expected to play.
Wish #2: Return to Exploiting Play-Action
There's no way around it. The Cowboys were being very successful using play-action during the first three weeks of the season, being among the NFL teams to use it the most. For some reason, though, they seem to have walked away from it. Somehow, they figured out what was working and stopped doing it. Many have argued about how play-action works and whether or not the run must be established for it to work. Analytics suggest it doesn't work that way.
Anyway, the trend is pretty clear. Throughout the first three weeks, the Cowboys averaged play-action plays on 39.56% of their drop-backs. The last three weeks that average has been 17.3%.
It's hard to find an answer as to why this has happened to Kellen Moore's offense, but I wish they go back to what was working so effectively at the beginning of the season.
Wish #3: Let Dak Prescott Win The Game
Speaking of play-action, I truly believe Dak Prescott is the least of the Cowboys' problems right now. He's played pretty well and has shown how much of a warrior he is, specially last week when he took a beating from the New York Jets' defensive front.
I love what RB Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table, but the offense should rely on the passing game. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are a very solid duo of wide receivers and Dak Prescott has proven he can handle the job. I'd like to see the Cowboys putting the offense on Dak's back.
The Eagles secondary has been far from decent this season, with plenty of teams airing out against them. The key to this game is the passing game.
Wish #4: First Cowboys Drive Ends in TD
The Cowboys' slow starts have really been one of the biggest issues for this football team this season. Even when they were on a win streak and faced weak opponents, Jason Garrett's team started slow on both offense and defense. That could be the difference in such an important game for the Cowboys. It's time for them to start fast, and score fast.
The Cowboys' offense has been pretty good. In fact, they rank second in offensive DVOA on Football Outsiders. If they figure out how to score early - when game scripts matter the most - this unit could be special.
Wish #5: Let Tony Pollard and Blake Jarwin Play
The Cowboys have chosen to give Jason Witten the vast majority of the offensive snaps at TE this season. As a consequence, Blake Jarwin has seen the field less than he should. Through six weeks, he's only played in 38.1% of the offensive snaps. Jarwin is young and talented and has been good when given the chance. I hope his snap count increases today.
Similarly, I wish the Cowboys' give Tony Pollard a more important role. Instead of using him as much as they did in the first three weeks, his snap count percentage has dropped all the way down to 17.68%.
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