AROUND THE NFC EAST: Former Eagle DeSean Jackson headed to rival Redskins
It would have been too easy and too boring for the Dallas Cowboys if DeSean Jackson had disappeared off to Oakland or Cleveland.
Instead, he’ll turn the spotlight back on Washington — which is precisely where it was for much of 2013, if you’ll remember. Jackson agreed to terms with the Redskins last night.
DeSean Jackson has never been a fan of the Cowboys. The receiver once famously declared “we gonna sting they ass’’ when he played for Philadelphia.
Jackson didn’t do a lot of stinging against the Cowboys the last three seasons. Will he have a better chance now that he’s with Washington?
It almost seemed like the inevitable conclusion to Jackson’s release from Philadelphia last week. In keeping with the NFC East’s penchant for drama, the move not only keeps him within the same division as his old team, the Eagles, but also his old nemesis, the Cowboys.
The news brings a strange story to an end, as it had only been five days since the Eagles released Jackson for no definitive reason. It was widely speculated the three-time Pro Bowler would find a new home relatively quickly, and Washington wasted no time after visiting with Jackson on Monday night.
As if the storied Cowboys-Redskins rivalry needed any more juice, it certainly has picked up a bit this offseason. Washington signed lifelong Cowboys and 2013 Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher just three days into free agency, and now the Redskins have added Jackson — a favorite target of Dallas fans during his career in Philadelphia.
In truth, Jackson’s success against the Cowboys has been lacking when compared to his impressive six-year career. He has played 11 games against Dallas, tallying 39 catches for 688 yards and just two touchdowns. That’s an average of 3.5 catches for 62.5 yards per game.
There are two obvious outliers there: Jackson torched the Cowboys for 210 yards and a touchdown on four catches in 2010, and he was also limited to just six catches for 49 yards in two games last year.
That said, the addition of one of the league’s best deep threats is an undeniable boon for Washington. The Redskins have been lacking explosiveness in the passing game for what feels like ages. In fact, Pierre Garcon’s 1,346-yard effort in 2013 was the team’s first 1,000-yard season by a receiver since 2010, and it was just the team’s fourth 1,000-yard receiving season since 2004.
Combining Garcon and Jackson is undoubtedly going to open up the passing game for Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t had a true No. 1 receiver during his brief NFL career. It should also decrease the focus on Alfred Morris and Washington’s vaunted ground game, which was already plenty successful when the Redskins didn’t have a deep threat like Jackson.
On paper, at least, this is Washington’s most intimidating offense in some time. If Griffin returns to his 2012 form, and the offensive line can keep him on his feet, the Redskins should have no problems scoring points.
Of course, the offense scored plenty last season. The bigger problem was a leaky defense — something every team in the NFC East can likely relate to. The Redskins have taken some steps toward fixing that, headlined by the addition of Hatcher.
But there’s no doubt that adding Jackson is the first truly blockbuster move an NFC East team has made this offseason. The Cowboys and Redskins had both already added Pro Bowlers to this point — but Hatcher is turning 32 and Henry Melton is coming off ACL surgery.
The Eagles made waves by trading for Darren Sproles, but he is more of a complimentary piece. The Giants have added several good-not-great players, but no bonafide stars.
The Jackson deal is sure to put the Redskins in the limelight during Jay Gruden’s first season as coach. It’s hard to imagine high expectations for a team that finished 3-13 and doesn’t possess a first-round draft pick, but that’s what it’s looking like.
Signing an All-Pro, hot button target can do that for you — especially in this division.
NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | The Cowboys Redskins rivalry continues | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys NFL Game 15
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NFL Films previews the 2013-2014 NFL Season Week 16 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. (Watch the Preview)
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When: Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)
Where: FedEx Field | Landover, MD
Watch on TV: FOX | DirecTV
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THE COWBOYS – REDSKINS RIVALRY CONTINUES! ENJOY THE GAME!
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RIVAL POSTGAME LOWLIGHTS: Philadelphia Eagles local coverage following loss to America’s Team (New Feature)
Philadelphia Eagles offense reflects on performance (2:17)
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Week 7 – Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles Highlights (3:56)
The Eagles fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 17-3 (Watch Video | No Audio)
Postgame Press Conference – Eagles head coach Chip Kelly (9:16)
Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly met the media following the Eagles’ 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and discussed the team’s performance. (Watch Video | Play Audio)
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RIVAL HEADLINE–PHILLY: Why do YOU hate the Cowboys?
THERE IS a great Christmas song that proclaims, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” While I love the season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day because people are actually nice to each other and concentrate on things that are most important – family and friends – it is not the most wonderful time of the year!
That’s actually October, if you are a sports fan.
There is a plethora of football to watch, both college and pro. The baseball playoffs are in full swing, culminating with the World Series and all its tension and excitement. Hockey season has begun in earnest and the NBA launches at the end of the month.
To cite one example of how great October can be, consider if you lived in Boston. Last Sunday was a day you would never forget – unbelievable comebacks by the Patriots and Red Sox in big games. Yes, October is the most wonderful time of the year – the only month all four major sports are going on at the same time.
This year, October is even more special because tomorrow the Eagles play the Cowboys at home with first place in the NFC East at stake. Good god, I hate those Cowboys!
On Wednesday, I was on the train coming back from New York and I was sitting with my cousin Steven, a brilliant psychiatrist, his aide, Marguerite, and two rambunctious women named Sarah and Jennifer. We had a great time as they helped me create the “Top 10 Reasons I Hate the Cowboys.” Though they were my reasons, the crew helped me put them in descending order. It was great fun and I strongly recommend you do it with your friends. We share many of the same reasons, but ranking them as to which make you hate the ‘Boys the most is a hoot.
So here’s my Top 10:
10. The Star – What unbelievable conceit to make a star the symbol of your team and paint it right smack in the middle of the field. How did that star look at the end of the pickle-juice game (the 2000 season opener when the Eagles consumed pickle juice to combat dehydration from the 109-degree game-time temperature and beat the hosts, 41-14)?
9. Jimmy Johnson’s hair – Gelled and lacquered into a steel-like, immovable ‘do, and harder than those obnoxious Cowboy helmets. (I must admit to a tad of envy here.)
8. Cowboy (or AT&T) Stadium – A gaudy, incredibly extravagant mausoleum to Jerry Jones’ ego. Hey, Jerry, with Texas having the highest percentage of people without healthcare coverage of any state in the nation, couldn’t you have thought of a better use for your money?
7. Troy Aikman on TV – This ex-Cowboys QB has never gotten over the physical and scoreboard beating administered to him by the Buddy Ryan-led Birds. He takes it out on the Eagles every chance he gets with his slanted, hateful anti-Eagles commentary.
6. The “Don’t Mess With Texas” attitude – Everything is bigger and better in the Lone Star state, or so they think. Rick Perry as governor? Not so much. Cowboy Stadium is a great example of this. One thing that’s for sure: Everything is more arrogant in Texas, especially if it has anything to do with this football team!
5. Conceited, cocky, arrogant stars, past and present – Michael Irvin, Neon Deion, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant: I can’t stand any of them. (Jason Witten is an exception, but he should have been an Eagle. Remember, we picked L.J. Smith in the draft when Jason was still available.)
4. No cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels or Tastykakes are sold at Cowboy Stadium – Hard to believe, but true. I went to see the Birds play in Dallas once and sat in Ross Perot’s box. There was white wine, caviar, smoked salmon, Brie and crudités served with nary a soft pretzel to be found. They wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in the 700 level at the Vet!
3. Jimmy Johnson’s favorite phrase, “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?” – I’m sick and tired of hearing it! Hey, Jimmy, how ’bout the fact that “Them Cowboys” have only won one playoff game (the dreaded “air guitar” game vs. the Birds, unfortunately) in more than a decade?
2. Jerry Jones – Need I explain? This unbelievably arrogant owner is the epitome of the conceit, braggadocio and excess that makes us hate the Cowboys.
1. “America’s Team” – Aaaaagh!! Who would have the gall to call themselves America’s Team? Who nominated them? Did we get to vote on this? This self-proclaimed title has inspired many faux fans around the nation to claim to be Cowboy rooters, but they all probably think a rollout is what you do with toilet paper and that the wildcat formation is found at the zoo.
So that’s my list. Have fun coming up with yours. To sum it up: “Cowboys suck,” and with injuries to Ware and Murray, the Birds win easily, 34-23.
Courtesy: Edward Rendell | The Daily News
Editors comment: Pretty lame article, granted. Not much creativity in Philly. After all, why remain bitter about Jimmy Johnson (and his hair) 25 years later? Seems like a “if you can’t beat ‘em … bash ‘em” mentality in the City of Brotherly Love (and resentment). Still, take a moment to vote in their poll. As you’d expect, it’s tilted towards a Philly win on Sunday. Let your voice be heard! While we’re at it … how ‘bout serving cheesesteak on Texas Toast with BBQ sauce for your gameday tailgate? Cheesesteak is basically shaved Texas beef brisket! Go Cowboys … hard pretzels, star and all!!
2013-2014 COWBOYS REDSKINS: NFC East rivals clash tonight at AT&T Stadium (Special Feature)
The Dallas Cowboys look to get back to .500 this week with the Washington Redskins coming to town tonight.
Keys To The Game
Redskins Win If:
Like the Cowboys, the Redskins have had their share of issues, not specifically run or pass, but playing complete team defense. As much as Kyle Shanahan needs to help this defense with his game plan, it is going to be up the Jim Haslett and his troops to apply pressure on Tony Romo and Bill Callahan.
When I study their scheme the one area where I feel like the Redskins should have an advantage is with their pass rush. If Callahan becomes one dimensional and decides he just wants to put the ball in the air, this could present a problem for him.
I understand the numbers say that the Redskins struggle badly against the pass, but they do have players along their front that, if not handled well, will find ways to get to Romo and get their defense off the field. It starts with Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan off the edge. There have been times this season where Haslett has brought them both off the same side to try and create problems with the opponent’s blocking scheme. How well Tyron Smith and Doug Free play in this game will be critical because there will be plenty of times where they are just matched up one-on-one with these rushers because of some of the games that Haslett plays inside with his tackles and linebackers.
Last season, where Haslett hurt this Cowboys scheme was with his twist stunts and then later in the season with the linebackers through the “A” gap. Disruptive pressure gives them a chance in this game.
Cowboys Win If:
For the last two weeks, Monte Kiffin and his defense have heard nothing but negative talk about how poorly they have played. This week against the Redskins, it gets no easier.
For the Cowboys to win this game on Sunday, it’s not going to be about their offense scoring 48 points but about how they respond defensively to what the Redskins are doing on offense. Playing against this read-option attack requires discipline and focus, which has not been a consistent trait for this Cowboys defense.
You can talk about ways to slow down this offense but if you are not playing the defensive call correctly, there are going to be problems. I believe Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is going to attempt to strive for balance in this matchup, and if that is the case, DeMarcus Ware, George Selvie, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter had better be in position to handle the situation when the ball is handed to Alfred Morris or when Robert Griffin III takes it out of his belly and circles around the end.
The numbers say that both Morris and Griffin have not been as productive carrying the ball, but with the shape the Redskins defense is in, Shanahan does not want to get in a shoot-out with Tony Romo. This Cowboys defense cannot allow Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris to control this game on the ground and keep their offense off the field. Discipline and focus are absolute musts.
Cowboys OT Doug Free vs. Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan
In this matchup between the Cowboys and Redskins, there are several ones along the offensive and defensive lines that can shift the direction of this game either way. DeMarcus Ware vs. Trent Williams and Tyron Smith vs. Brian Orakpo are all worthy of our thoughts, but the one that has my attention, deals with Doug Free vs. Ryan Kerrigan.
As much as I have seen Orakpo play, I believe that Kerrigan is just as dangerous. He plays both the run and pass with equal effort and skill. Kerrigan is one of those players that keep coming after you. There is no give-up or quit in his game. Just when you think you have him blocked, he gets you with that burst of extra effort and gets a sack or a tackle for loss. Where Free has to be careful, is not allowing him to finish plays, because that’s his best trait. Kerrigan has good football strength and he will use it to his advantage. Free has been playing at a high level this season and he will need to continue to do so if he is going to be able to counter from what I have seen in Kerrigan.
Free’s technique has improved to the point, where it has allowed him to just play with ease and there has been far less struggle in his game than what we had seen the past two seasons. This is one matchup where Doug Free cannot have an off day or there will be trouble for this Cowboys offense.
Cowboys LB Sean Lee vs. Redskins RB Alfred Morris
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been 58 percent pass to 42 percent run through four game this season. As talented as Robert Griffin III is throwing the ball, I believe that is the balance that Shanahan doesn’t want. The Redskins have struggled on defense this season and have been behind in the majority of their games and have to throw to get back in them. If Shanahan can play with a lead or be equal in a game, I can see him trying to use Alfred Morris in a way to control the game like he was able to do against the Cowboys last year.
There is no secret that Monte Kiffin and his defense has struggled with the pass but he needs to worry about Morris running the ball downhill at him. Morris is one of those backs that can wear you down as the game moves along. When you play a read option, you need to have defenders in place to handle all the options. If you don’t, there will be problems. What I have noticed on tape is that you still see the “Pistol” or “Ace” formations, so the threat is still there to run the ball but it hasn’t been on the legs of Griffin III or even Morris that much.
If Shanahan does strive for that balance, look for Morris to get plenty of opportunities and this is where Sean Lee needs to be at his best to stop Morris before he has a chance to get going. There will be some serious collisions between these two tonight.
Players to Watch
Their Nemesis: Jason Witten
In 20 games played against the Washington Redskins, Jason Witten has caught 94 passes for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns. Throughout his long career, Witten has always been a thorn in the side of the Redskins, who have found it very difficult to match his ability to get up the field. In this game on Sunday, Witten should once again get those opportunities to find space in this secondary who will most likely have to use their safeties to help in coverage on Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
With Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan coming up with schemes that get multiple receivers on the field, as we saw in the Broncos game, it stretches the defense horizontally and it creates space for Witten to work underneath and up the field. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins treat Witten like a receiver and match him that way or does Brandon Merriweather and Bacarri Rambo draw that assignment. I believe that Rambo would be more physical in coverage than Merriweather but because he has more experience than the rookie in these situations that he will most likely get that call. Regardless, I expect a big game, once again from Witten.
Our Weapon: Dan Bailey
It would have been real easy for me to talk about Dez Bryant, DeMarcus Ware or Tony Romo for the weapon here but if you take a closer look at the numbers in the last 10 meetings between the Cowboys and Redskins, five of those games were decided by three points of less and this is where Dan Bailey comes it. Bailey has attempted 12 field goals in his career against the Redskins and he has yet to miss. In 2011, Bailey was even a perfect six-for-six, which accounted for all the points in a victory over the Redskins 18 – 16.
Where Bailey has been automatic, his work as a kickoff man, has been flawless. In 30 kick off opportunities, opponents have only been able to return the ball eight times for an average starting field position of 20.5. Bailey’s kick offs last week against the Broncos was one of the deciding factors that held the dangerous Trindon Holliday in check only allowing him 24 yards a return. Despite what we have seen from both the Cowboys and Redskins through five games, I believe that this will be another tight game and will most likely come down to three points which I would happily put on the toe of Dan Bailey.
Under The Radar: Orlando Scandrick
The Washington Redskins are going to throw the ball 58% of the time on first down. How this Cowboys secondary plays on those downs, will be vital to their success on Sunday night. There has been less running by Robert Griffin III and more of him making throws from the pocket. The last two weeks, pressure from this Cowboys defensive line has struggled to get home and something needs to be done about it.
The most consistent player on this defense has been Orlando Scandrick whether he has played outside in the base or out of the nickel. Where Scandrick can help this defense the most is not only in his coverage but as a slot blitzer to create some problems for Griffin III in the pocket. Monte Kiffin has used Scandrick in that role that he once had for Ronde Barber and he has had some success. Of Scandrick’s 6.5 career sacks, two of them have come against the Redskins. Scandrick has a really nice feel for how to attack the pocket and do it in a way not to draw a penalty on his blitz. I would not be one bit surprised to see Kiffin take advantage of bringing Orlando Scandrick off the edge.
Our Nemesis: Robert Griffin III
There are very few quarterbacks in the National Football League that can say they have never lost to the Dallas Cowboys, but Robert Griffin III is one of those. Though his sample size is only two games, his play against them in my view, was the difference in those games. What is different about Griffin III from what I have seen from last season to this, is more of a willingness to make throws from the pocket. I am not saying that, Griffin III is Peyton Manning back there, because you will see him move and buy a second or two more to get the ball down the field.
The Redskins will still line up in “Ace” formation and go through all the play action reads, which is a strength of Griffin III. For a young quarterback, he is one of the best that I have seen handling the ball on the move. He is extremely smart and it is rare that you see him make a poor or bad read, when running the read option. When throwing the ball, he is going to look down the field first. He looks more comfortable throwing the ball in the middle of the field than anywhere else, which is where the Cowboys have had their troubles.
Their Weapon: Pierre Garcon
If I were on the Cowboys defensive coaching staff, I would be very concerned about how we were planning on how to deal with Pierre Garcon in this game. Offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan has done a really nice job of creating plays to get the ball in Garcon’s hands and allowing him to do the rest. There has become a really nice bond between Garcon and Griffin III, to the point where Griffin III will just throw the ball in the general direction of Garcon with the understanding that he is going to make the play regardless where the ball is.
What has been impressive about Garcon is how much power that he plays with when they get him the ball. You will see him catch a quick screen and he explodes up the field, leaving tacklers in his wake. Garcon likes to also work the middle of the field and not just on simple routes, but those deep crossing routes between the linebackers and the safeties. He is not afraid to catch the ball in traffic and will compete, if he has too. When you play Garcon, you have to be physical with him because if you don’t, he will try and beat you up. Tough matchup.
Under The Radar: Jordan Reed
The Redskins like to use their tight ends on game day and all of them play a role. There was a time where Fred Davis was the lead dog in the sled for the Redskins offense, but Logan Paulsen has taken a lot of his responsibilities when it comes to being the only tight end on the field. Matter of fact, the Redskins most successful passing formation is when Paulson is on the field, with three other wide receivers.
But keep an eye on rookie Jordan Reed, who has had two weeks to recover from a deep thigh bruise that he suffered in the Lions game. What I have seen from Reed is a player that is more of a route runner than he is a blocker. Very good on his run after catch and with 4.71 speed, can be a matchup problem for linebackers and safeties to have to deal with. Has made 13 catches in three games with one touchdown.
The Redskins like to move their tight ends around the formation and line them up in different spots and this is to take advantage of players like Reed to get him in space off play action fakes. Reed can be a mismatch player for a defense that has struggled in coverage with the tight end position the last two weeks.