Redskins versus Cowboys: 5 Keys to the Game
November 21, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game
1. Burn the Clock:
I know after last week's game most people would like to see Robert Griffin III throw deep more for long touchdown strikes, but that really isn't the Washington Redskins offense. Last week saw the Redskins take advantage of a very undisciplined defense and make them pay. The Cowboys are a far tougher opponent, and their secondary has been fairly strong this year. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 61.8 % of their passes, and just one (Matt Ryan) has gone over the 300 yard mark. The Redskins are better suited for quicker throws anyways, and that is the best way to attack this defense.
The Redskins also keep their banged up defense off the field as much as possible, by controlling the clock and meticulously going down the field. The Redskins defense was already injured and porous to begin with, but with Brandon Meriweather out, and questions surrounding the health of Josh Wilson and London Fletcher it's a whole new situation. The Redskins would be best served by limiting the exposure of their defense, and that starts on the offensive side of the ball.
2. Don't Defer the Ball:
I've talked about it before, but it makes even less sense this week with the Redskins defense banged up. Mike Shanahan should let his offense and star rookie RB and QB dictate the game, and not the Cowboys Pro Bowl QB, WR and TE. Given the struggles that Dallas has had at home with their fans not supporting the team, it's a great opportunity to go out there and score early putting pressure on Dallas.
3. Stop the Penalty Parade:
The Redskins had 13 accepted penalties last week at home coming off a bye. That is completely unacceptable. The Cowboys are nearly as bad as the Redskins in penalties, so this would be a great week for Washington to get their act together. Not only can they even the penalty gap, but Washington could actually have an advantage in this game if they just play smart. The Offense continues to be the biggest offenders, with the offensive line committing most of the fouls. It might be a short week, but Washington has to tighten up if they want to keep any playoff hopes alive.
4. Stop DeMarcus Ware:
Dallas has a strong defense overall, but there is one guy the Redskins need to ensure they stop and that is DeMarcus Ware. Despite Robert Griffin's running ability he remains one of the more sacked quarterbacks in the league (based on attempts). The line needs to do a better job of holding up in general. Last week versus the Eagles Griffin was sacked twice, but that number would have been 6 or 7 times, if not for Griffin's amazing escapability. What is even sadder is the fact that it was only in about 25 dropbacks. Dallas overall ranks 21st in the league with 20 sacks, Ware though ranks 4th in the league with 10 of those sacks. Regardless of which side he's rushing from the Redskins need to account for Ware on every play, and would do well to help out both Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus with a tight end or back. Yes Griffin may escape some of his rushes, but that is the last resort and shouldn't be the game plan for stopping Ware.
5. Stay Creative on Defense:
The Redskins defense is going to be their weakest link, but last week showed they can still do their part to help get a win. The Redskins last week were able to get a lot of pressure on Nick Foles, and forced three total turnovers. They held the Eagles to just 257 yards of total offense. Now they were helped by playing a rookie quarterback in his first start, behind an offensive line missing a number of starters, so a repeat performance is unlikely. That doesn't mean though the defense can't still have some degree of success. Last week saw the Redskins utilize a number of more creative blitzes which led to a number of big defensive plays. The Redskins should continue with that, to help mitigate the injuries and ineffectiveness overall. The Cowboys could be missing both their LT and top two running backs meaning the Skins can have some advantages. They can afford to play their safeties back to ensure they don't get beat deep, at the same time they should look to overload the left side of the offensive line. Tony Romo will still make some plays, but it can lead to some big sacks/turnovers for the defense as well.