Cowboys News App [Android]

Sean’s Scout: Washington Defense Looks to Keep WFT In NFC East Hunt

The will have their healthiest gameday roster of the , three extra days of rest, and the advantage of watching their opponent on Sunday after already beating the Saints on the road as they face Washington for the first time this week.

With both meetings against the Cowboys remaining, the Washington Football Team is hopeful they can repeat as despite these things working against them. While the Cowboys look to start a new win streak themselves, Washington returns home with a win at the Raiders to extend their streak to four. WFT has played just one division game this season, narrowly beating the Giants in week two. They're playing up to expectations on lately, preparing them for the stretch of five straight games they'll play to end the regular season.

The Cowboys haven't looked like the team ready to run away with this division much earlier in the year for weeks now, certainly not in their most recent win in New Orleans. They have however passed both of their divisional tests with flying colors, beating the Giants and Eagles by a combined score of 85-41.

This is a team that's never wavered in talking up big playoff expectations, and how they play against a rival that just beat Las Vegas – one game removed from their own win in Dallas – will go a long way in backing up this prediction.

Here are a few things to watch for on Sunday, after turning on the tape of WFT vs. the Raiders.

Sean's Scout: Washington Defense Looks to Keep WFT In NFC East Hunt

This is a team that treats their as a base look, and is aggressive in their Nickel sets. It was a surprise to see how often Washington lined up with three or four linebackers behind a four man front. The range their has allows them to play this way, with players like Matt Ioannidis, , and getting off blocks and flowing to the ball well.

The Cowboys may learn a lot about who their should be in this game, based on how they handle the interior of WFT's line. Ioannidis made one of the most impressive plays for their defense against the Raiders, chasing down for a sack that forced a punt.

stood out the most from their group, dropping quickly into coverage and avoiding blocks against the run. When Washington does play with extra on the field, they're often used in blitz packages. This puts a lot of trust in and William Jackson at CB in man coverage, and both held up well against the Raiders. The opportunities will be there for the Cowboys to get the ball to their receivers in space, but only if the protection holds up long enough for .

Tackles Charles Leno and Cornelius Lucas both had their struggles containing pass rushers in this game. Against power rushers, both Washington tackles gave up ground and allowed the Raiders defense to hurry Taylor Heinicke. Neither player was particularly quick out of their stance, or athletic enough to change direction against counter moves.

Cowboys DC will have his full rotation of pass rushers to throw at Heinicke, and it will be very interesting to see what he comes up with against a QB that struggles against pressure. The difference in how Heinicke throws from a clean pocket or when pressured is unlike anything the Cowboys have seen in an opposing QB since Sam Darnold or .

Heinicke can get to his check downs quickly though, with players like and creating game-breaking plays after the catch.

The Cowboys' speed at linebacker may help in coverage here, but also in the rush. Seeing what they have in , , (expected to make his season debut), and is a great starting point before dialing up extra pressure, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Quinn get aggressive against a QB that averages just four air yards per attempt. If Washington tries to run the ball in an effort to keep Prescott and the Cowboys on the sideline, the discipline of this defense will again be tested with WFT consistently pulling their linemen and getting them on the second level.

As mentioned in my recap of the Cowboys win at the Saints, style points don't exist in this league. Two teams coming off of road wins will meet on Sunday to mostly decide how the East plays out down the stretch. The Cowboys are focused on working even more players back from , and proving they're anything but the team WFT swept decisively last season.

Prescott did not play in either meeting, and comes into this week's matchup with a 7-1 career record against Washington. It'll be the Cowboys offense under the microscope once again, but I believe the Cowboys defense has the best chance to dictate this game and do their part in giving Dallas a three game NFC East lead.

Sean Martin
Sean Martin
Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

COntinue Reading


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

> Join our team...

-- COWBOYS ANDROID APP --Free Dallas Cowboys News App for Android