AROUND THE NFC EAST – DOWN THE HATCH: Washington Redskins will open 2014 training camp without Jason Hatcher | Former Dallas Cowboys DE sidelined
RICHMOND, Va. — Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden says defensive end Jason Hatcher and three other players will be sidelined when training camp practice begins Thursday.
Gruden said today that Hatcher, defensive end Stephen Bowen and receiver Leonard Hankerson are still recovering from knee surgeries, while backup guard Maurice Hurt is out of shape.
Hatcher, acquired as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys, had arthroscopic surgery last month. He is expected to return quicker than Bowen and Hankerson, who had more significant injuries.
The coach says quarterback Robert Griffin III’s physical condition is “not an issue” 18 months removed from major knee surgery. Says Gruden: “The key for him is to learn from his mistakes.”
Gruden is leading a camp for the first time. He says he’ll have “butterflies” making sure everything’s right.
AROUND THE NFC EAST: Tracking The Evil Empire | The 2014-2015 division pre-training camp watch | Assessing the biggest issues facing the Dallas Cowboys rivals
IRVING, Texas – It’s a bit hard to believe, but football is here – the makings of football, at least.
SNIDER’S SNIFFING AROUND: Dallas Cowboys ST coach Rich Bisaccia interviewing for Washington Redskins head coaching position
IRVING, Texas – The Washington Redskins search for a new head coach will go through the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff.
Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is interviewing for the vacancy in Washington, where he’s got history with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen dating back to their time together in Tampa Bay.
The Washington Redskins asked for permission to speak with Bisaccia and were granted by the Cowboys. NFL rules state that teams must allow all assistant coaches to interview for a vacant head coaching position. Teams can block assistants under contract to meet with other teams for any other coaching position.
Bisaccia coached primarily special teams while working with the Buccaneers from 2002-10. After working with special teams from 2002-07, he then added the responsibilities of associate head coach and running backs in 2008 before spending his last two seasons as the associate head coach and special teams coach.
He then coached the San Diego Chargers special teams units for two seasons, adding assistant head coaching duties in 2012, prior to a brief stint in January 2013 at Auburn. The Tigers allowed Bisaccia to return to the professional ranks and go to the Dallas Cowboys, where he replaced former special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, who’s now in Chicago.
Head coach Jason Garrett always preaches the necessity to be good in all three phases of the game, and one could easily make the argument special teams was the team’s best phase this season. Dwayne Harris ranked in the top three in the league in both kick return and punt return average, and Dan Bailey’s leg strength increased while his pinpoint accuracy stayed consistent.
Bisaccia had a lot of familiarity with the coaching staff in Dallas, particularly with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. They all coached together previously in Tampa Bay, and Bisaccia stayed in touch with Marinelli even after the trio left.
In the offseason, Bisaccia recalled a story about going to grab a casual cup of coffee with Marinelli after their time together in Tampa Bay before leaving with two notebooks full of notes after a three-hour visit.
“I’m fortunate to be back with Rod, and certainly be with Monte, but my respect for Rod and the way he coaches on the field and his demeanor and the way he handles his meetings, I’ve learned so much from him,” Bisaccia said in the offseason. “Whatever he said about me, I’m going to try to live up to it. If that’s what I am, then that’s great. I’m going to do that the best I can.”
It’s always been important to Bisaccia to be around coaches and staff members that he knows. Bisaccia spent four years with Marinelli and seven years with Kiffin in Tampa Bay.
“The three of us love football,” he said.” I’ve been married to the same gal for 29 years. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I have ball and I go home. This is my hobby, it’s my passion, it’s a calling to some degree, and really those two guys are the same way.”
Editors note: True Blue’s already know, Daniel Snyder is the owner of the Washington Redskins.
LANDOVER, Md. – There wouldn’t be any excessive dancing and celebrating from quarterback Tony Romo after his game-winning touchdown pass, given how he looked physically at the time.
Romo, who gingerly jogged back to the Dallas Cowboys sideline after a brief moment of jubilation following the successful fourth-down pass to DeMarco Murray, had been fighting through a back injury throughout the final quarter.
“I tweaked it in the game,” Romo said. “For whatever reason, just the twist or whatever that was, definitely just made it not feel comfortable.”
Romo’s back wasn’t 100 percent entering the game, but he said he didn’t feel like it was going to be a major problem going in.
The injury was noticeable and looked more like a leg problem than a back injury, as he limped around following one of his patented spin moves to evade a sack. It appeared his back injury was at its worst after he made the move, threw an 8-yard pass to Miles Austin and converted a crucial third down in the fourth quarter.
Romo said he took a hit earlier in the game that first triggered the back pain, and then late in the game had that play which aggravated it worse.
“I felt it after that play the rest of the game,” Romo said. “You just play through it just like anything – it’s football.”
Even simple handoffs to DeMarco Murray looked painful as the quarterback struggled to meet the running back in the backfield. Romo said it didn’t feel comfortable, but the bright side is the pain is in a different spot than the back problems he had last year.
Head coach Jason Garrett said it looked as if Romo got leg-whipped or kicked somehow.
“He certainly was hobbling around a little bit and you just suck it up, pull your sock up, spit on it and keep going,” Garrett said.
Romo didn’t leave the game. In fact, the quarterback played better than he had all game after the injury, as the Cowboys put up 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys scored just seven points in each of the first two quarters and went scoreless in the third quarter.
Though the pain was noticeable, Romo was still able to maneuver around the pocket and buy enough time for Murray to get open along the sideline on the game-winning touchdown pass.
“We knew Tony was hurt, but he got right back in there the next play,” said Dez Bryant. “He never went over there to the trainers or anything. He knew how important that drive was and we went down there, executed and scored.”
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Romo’s getting “special treatment” for the back, and it won’t keep him from playing going forward.
“We think it’ll be OK, but it was a tightening – it wasn’t a contusion,” Jones said. “It was a little tight, but they’re working on him and we’ll work on that all week. He really had a little of it in practice, to give you an idea, this past week – just a little tightness.”
LANDOVER, Md. – Three Dallas Cowboys writers share their initial feelings of the Dallas Cowboys dramatic comeback win over the Washington Redskins.
Helman: I’m running out of ways to express how I can’t explain what I just saw. For what feels like the 12th time in 15 games, the Dallas Cowboys took it to the wire in an exasperating, exhilarating finish. It’s hard to know who to focus on between DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, Terrance Williams or the defense. But they all combined to keep the season alive. You could probably argue it shouldn’t have come down to such an insane situation. But with this team, that’s just the way it’s going to be. The roller coaster continues at least one more week.
Kavner: This was vintage Dallas Cowboys. Expect the unexpected with this group, which never makes anything easy. That’s both positive and negative, as the consistent inconsistency always makes for dramatic finishes. That’s a reason many fans become apathetic watching them, because they can’t take the emotional back and forth that’s sure to occur week in and week out. The Cowboys found a way to pull through and keep everyone on that rollercoaster yet another week. It wouldn’t happen any other way with this team, setting up yet another Week 17 showdown for the division. They’ll need to diverge from the past if the third time’s a charm and they finally pull off the NFC East title coming off as big a win as the team’s had since Jason Garrett’s tenure began, complete with an ironic finish on a passing touchdown to the guy everyone clamored to run the ball more often. Expect another nail-biter in yet another win or go home game. It can’t happen any other way.
Eatman: I really didn’t see them getting out of this place with a win and there were countless times when that appeared to hold true. But this team wouldn’t die and they deserve credit for that. Nothing was pretty except the final score. I applaud this defense for gutting it out like they did in the second half. And what else can you say about Romo? Every time he’s counted out he bounces back. He drives fans crazy but that’s who he is. The only thing I really got right about the initial gut was the season wouldn’t be over today and it’s not. Crazy game with twists and turns but more importantly, they’re still alive and will probably be favored to make the playoffs.
RELATED TO THIS ARTICLE:
COWBOYS REDSKINS GAMEDAY GUT CHECK: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 2013-2014 NFL Game 15
The Dallas Cowboys control their own destiny. Win and you’re in.
It wasn’t always pretty, the problems that have plagued the team in recent weeks again showing up at times today, but in the end, Dallas brought home a 24-23 victory over the Redskins, setting the stage for a one-game showdown against Philadelphia next Sunday.
Tony Romo was at his best when his team needed him the most, leading the Cowboys on a late fourth-quarter drive that gave Dallas the come-from-behind victory. He finished the day completing 17-of-27 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, as rookie Terrance Williams led the club with 84 yards receiving while Dez Bryant added 73 more.
After taking criticism for abandoning the running game last week, the Cowboys handed the ball off to DeMarco Murray 22 times in this one, and he rushed for 96 yards. In the process, he became the first Dallas running back to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing for a season since Julius Jones did so in 2006. Murray also had three catches for 15 yards and scored twice, including the game-winner.
Defensively, the ravaged unit again struggled to contain its opponent, particularly wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who had a field day with 144 receiving yards off of 11 catches. But quarterback Kirk Cousins finished with just 197 yards passing while Alfred Morris pounded out 88 yards on 24 rushing attempts. And like Romo, the Dallas D did what it had to do when it had to do it, getting two big stops in the fourth quarter to help lead the team to the win.
The Cowboys offense experienced each end of the field-position spectrum on their first two series of the game. After the Redskins went three-and-out to start, newly signed return man Michael Spurlock took the ensuing punt at his own 35, got great blocks from Danny McCray and Jeff Heath, and darted down the right sideline 62 yards to the Redskins 3.
Already on the doorstep, Dallas then needed just two plays to score the game’s first touchdown, Murray barreling in for the 7-0 lead.
But on the Cowboys’ next possession, they experienced the exact opposite. Another Washington punt this time rolled down to the Dallas 2-yard line, and with their backs against the wall, the offense was forced to punt. So this time it was the Redskins who enjoyed good field position, and they were able to eventually kick a 36-yard field goal to get on the board.
Washington narrowed the lead to 7-6 with a 22-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, and the Cowboys appeared in trouble again when a penalty on the kickoff return pushed them back to their own 7. But Murray took a handoff to the left, cut back against the grain and stiff-armed his way around the right side to rumble 43 yards to the 50.
Romo then showed a little of that old magic. First he threw a 31-yard pass to Bryant on the right sideline, then three plays later, the quarterback spun away from a blitzing safety before launching a perfect throw to Bryant in the back of the end zone for the score and a 14-6 advantage at the half.
Despite the Cowboys owning the lead, the defense was doing little to stop the home team, meaning the offense would have to keep pace over the final 30 minutes of the game for Dallas to have any chance of getting the win.
But similar to last week’s loss against the Packers, the offense came out after the break and struggled. On their first possession of the third quarter, fullback Tyler Clutts took a short pass from Romo only to fumble, cornerback Josh Wilson recovering at the Dallas 33. That turnover led to an 8-yard pass to Garcon, who ran in untouched to close the gap to just one point, 14-13.
It didn’t take long for the Redskins to then take the lead after yet another Dallas turnover. On the Cowboys next possession, Romo threw an ill-advised pass to Bryant, who also slipped on his curl route, DeAngelo Hall there to get the easy interception and set his team up at the Dallas 47.
With the Dallas defense showing signs of wearing down, Morris took the handoff five times for 28 yards, the final carry a four-yard charge up the middle for the score and a 20-13 advantage.
Make that three straight series Washington put points on the board. With Romo and Co. still unable to do much of anything offensively, the Cowboys punted the ball away to their hosts, who then marched back to the Dallas 34-yard line, thanks in part to a crucial late hit penalty on safety J.J. Wilcox. That resulted in a 47-yard field goal for Washington on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Having gone away from the run in the third frame, in part because of the turnovers, the Cowboys went back to a more balanced attack on their next possession. Starting at their own 20, the offense worked all the way down to the Washington 7-yard line, converting a fourth-and-6 when Romo found Cole Beasley for a 20-yard strike. And although they couldn’t get in the end zone, Dan Bailey hit the chip-shot field goal, the Cowboys narrowing the score to 23-17 while also eating up 8:47 of clock.
And then the defense did something they hadn’t done since Thanksgiving – got a second-half stop. Forcing the Redskins to punt, Orlando Scandrick breaking up a pass to Garcon over the middle on third down, the Cowboys took over possession at their own 13-yard line after the punt with 3:39 remaining on the clock.
Romo then proceeded to move his offense down the field, hitting Williams on a sideline pass for 15 yards, then rolling out to his right and finding Williams again, this time behind the defense for a huge 51-yard connection. Another 17-yard pass to Bryant then set the Cowboys up with first-and-goal at the 4-yard line with 2:16 left.
After Murray picked up three yards to the 1-yard line on first down, he got stuffed for no gain on the second snap. Then on third down, Murray tried to reverse field, only to lose nine yards, setting up a crucial fourth-and-goal at the 10.
Dropping back to pass, Romo at first was unable to find an open receiver, but slipping out of the pocket, he then dumped off to Murray on the right side, who turned and dove to the end zone for the score. With the extra point, Dallas had regained the lead, 24-23.
The Redskins had one more shot, but on fourth-and-6 with 45 seconds left, Cousins pass fell incomplete, the Cowboys’ comeback complete.
With the win, the Cowboys improved their record for the season to 8-7, including a 5-0 mark in the division, and will now play for the NFC East title next week against the Eagles, who face Chicago on Sunday night.
NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | The Cowboys Redskins rivalry continues | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys NFL Game 15
NFL FILMS COWBOYS REDSKINS PREVIEW:
Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
NFL Films previews the 2013-2014 NFL Season Week 16 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. (Watch the Preview)
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards
View NFL | Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.
Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game
Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.
or listen via the Dallas Cowboys Android App on your phone or tablet
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game
To watch on network TV, tune to:
KDFW-TV/FOX 4 Dallas Ft. Worth | WTTG -TV/FOX 5 Washington, DC
Out of market? Click HERE to (legally) watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)
When: Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)
Where: FedEx Field | Landover, MD
Watch on TV: FOX | DirecTV
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: The Boys Are Back website
The Boys Are Back – Dedicated to TRUE BLUE fans of the Dallas Cowboys
Check back here for Dallas Cowboys box scores and stats, NFL and Dallas Cowboys videos, Dallas Cowboys pictures, gameday highlights, gameday resources, game recaps, interesting articles, and the latest Dallas Cowboys news and information all season long.
Signup for email alerts, RSS feeds, and add us to your favorites or bookmarks.
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys pregame/postgame shows
Note: The pregame show starts about two hours before kickoff. The postgame show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.
THE COWBOYS – REDSKINS RIVALRY CONTINUES! ENJOY THE GAME!
Hey, spread some testosterone! Use the SHARE & LIKE buttons below
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys could be eliminated from the postseason this weekend if they don’t beat the Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles win against the Chicago Bears. So this trip to Washington D.C. is virtually a must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys, who have now lost two straight games to drop to 7-7.
Here are the gut feelings for insiders Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
It’s really easy to hop on the negativity train, considering how the past week has gone for the Dallas Cowboys. They don’t have a linebacker corps, and their secondary is held together by duct tape. I don’t have much doubt Kirk Cousins is going to be the latest backup quarterback to rack up big yardage. With the season in the balance, though, I think Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray can step up and carry this team into Week 17. More importantly, I think the offensive line can step up and continue its hot streak. I see another 100-yard effort in Murray, and I think Romo can take advantage of a bad Washington secondary. Michael Spurlock is going to have a valuable return in a key situation, and Dallas is going to win by 10-14 points.
Hopes are slim right now for a reeling Dallas group after losing two straight games in awful fashion, once just getting picked apart in Chicago and the other by giving a game away to the Packers, but there’s a reason the Redskins are a three-win team and have lost their last six. Their situation is worse than the Cowboys’ current one. The breadth of Dallas defensive injuries make them look more and more like last year’s team, so there aren’t a litany of teams I’d pick them to beat, but this is still one. I think the Cowboys go back to what they trust, getting Jason Witten involved early. He’ll find the end zone, but the Dallas offense will also find a way to get Cole Beasley at least five catches. The play-calling will still frustrate some, as the Cowboys work to find the best way to handle their recent rushing success, but they’ll have success on the ground and through the air before Dan Bailey wins it by a field goal.
My gut for this game isn’t so great. Somehow, I have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys get out this place with a win. Then again, I really don’t think the season and playoff hopes will be over after Sunday. Whatever the Cowboys do, I see the Eagles doing as well, setting up a showdown next week like we all expected. I think the Cowboys can definitely win this game, but I worry about the defense stopping the run, especially if it gets rainy and turns into a sloppy-field game. I don’t think you can dismiss the fact Washington has just three wins. A three-win team is a bad team. And while Kirk Cousins can certainly hurt this team, there’s a reason they are so bad. So I think this one is close. Somehow I have a hard time picking Dallas, but an even stronger feeling is the Cowboys have something to play for next week, too.
The Jason Garrett Show: Attitude following loss | Injuries at LB | 2:03
RELATED: The Jason Garrett Show: Kirk Cousins | Shanahan’s offense | 1:58
Dallas Cowboys 1-on-1 interview with linebacker DeVonte Holloman | 3:02
BONUS VIDEO: Who inspires who? Some boys are born to inspire men
The Incredible Story Of Tyler Sampson | 3:01 (Watch this Video)
Why do you love football? Tyler Sampson is a finalist in the Together We Make Football trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. Vote for him here http://www.togetherwemakefootball.com/contest.html?v=finalists&i=tyler
GAME 15 BLACK AND BLUE REPORT: Dallas Cowboys injury and practice update | 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys were without two linebackers, two cornerbacks and two receivers at practice today.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring), cornerback Brandon Carr (illness), receiver Dwayne Harris (hamstring), receiver Terrance Williams (hamstring), linebacker Sean Lee (neck) and linebacker Ernie Sims (groin) did not practice.
Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck), defensive end George Selvie (back), defensive end DeMarcus Ware (back) and defensive end Jarius Wynn (chest) were limited.
Linebacker Bruce Carter (hamstring) was a full participant.
Dallas Cowboys injury and practice update for today:
Today’s Washington Redskins Injury and Practice update
Did you know? Your 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys (and each week opponents) Injury and Practice updates are always only a click away!
It’s coming down to the wire. The fate of the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys season will be determined in the next four weeks. Will the ‘boys take it to the next level or will another NFC East team step up? As of today, the Dallas Cowboys must face the Chicago Bears on the road, the Green Bay Packers at home, the Washington Redskins on their turf, and close out by hosting the 7-5 Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys have a shot to take the division. Do you think they will? If not, then who?
Your Comments and Shares are always welcome and appreciated.
Navajo Code Talkers Attend Game
A leader of the Navajo Code Talkers who appeared at a Washington Redskins home football game said Wednesday the team name is a symbol of loyalty and courage — not a slur as asserted by critics who want it changed.
Roy Hawthorne, 87, of Lupton, Ariz., was one of four Code Talkers honored for their service in World War II during the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, said the group’s trip was paid for by the Redskins. The four men met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name, Hawthorne said. Still, he said he would endorse the name if asked, and the televised appearance in which three of the Indians wore Redskins jackets spoke for itself.
“We didn’t have that in mind but that is undoubtedly what we did do,” Hawthorne said when asked if he was intending to send a statement with the appearance. “My opinion is that’s a name that not only the team should keep, but that’s a name that’s American.”
Monday night’s brief, on-field ceremony came as some Indians and civil rights leaders wage a “Change the Mascot” campaign that targets the term redskins as a racial epithet.
Jacqueline Pata, head of the National Congress of American Indians, called the appearance “a political play rather than a heartfelt recognition of the Code Talkers.”
Pata, a member of the Tlingit Tribe of Alaska, said she reveres the Code Talkers for the work they have done but added that people often fail to recognize that the origins of the term “redskin” date to a period when Indians faced efforts to annihilate their culture.
“We were outlawed during that same period the mascot was created from practicing our own religion and our own cultures,” she said. “That term is associated with getting rid of the Indians.”
Snyder has called the team name and mascot a “badge of honor.” The name dates to the team’s first years in Boston in the 1930s and has survived numerous outside efforts to change it. The team has been in the Washington, D.C., area since 1937.
Redskins senior vice president Tony Wyllie said there was no truth to suggestions that the Code Talkers were used to bolster the team’s resistance to a new name.
“They’re American heroes, and they deserved recognition,” he said.
Also attending Monday’s game were Code Talkers president Peter MacDonald Sr., George Willie Sr. and George James Sr.
The Navajo Code Talkers used codes derived from their native language to shield military communications from interception by Japanese troops. Hawthorne said there are now about 30 surviving Code Talkers.
The trip to Washington was the second this month for Hawthorne, who last week joined Code Talkers from other tribes who received Congressional Gold Medals for the role they played in World War I and World War II. Members of the Navajo were recognized in 2000.
Redskins Nation Report
This is going to sound a lot like whining, but it’s really just an interesting observation.
A couple of days removed from his injury on Monday Night Football, we’re now aware Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a broken clavicle. The Packers’ signal-caller is slated to miss at least three or so weeks, but he is expected back before the end of the season.
By a twist of fate, that simple fact is likely going to affect the NFC East championship race in a very direct manner. The NFC North drew the NFC East on the schedule this season, which pits the Packers against all four East squads.
Rodgers and Co. have only played one team from the division to this point, however. The Packers crushed the Redskins, 38-20, in Week 2 of the season. But the other three matchups against the NFC East are slated for later in the season.
And now it brings us to this point. The Packers’ next two games, with Rodgers sidelined, are a home date against Philadelphia this weekend and a road trip to play the Giants on Nov. 17.
Obviously, anything can happen in any NFL matchup – that’s what makes this league so much fun. But you’ve got to admit the prospects of defeating Green Bay with Seneca Wallace running the offense look a lot brighter than if it was one-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers round into view on the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule on Dec. 15, by which point it’s a good bet Rodgers will be coming back to full health, if not back on the field already.
In the same vein, the Bears look likely to have Jay Cutler back for the home stretch – which includes the Cowboys – after Cutler said he planned to play this weekend against Detroit. Cutler went down with a groin injury early in the Bears’ game against the Redskins – a game they lost. But he will be back in the mix for games against the Eagles and Cowboys.
It’s the NFL. So counting games ahead of the schedule is an exercise in futility. Green Bay is still probably a good enough team to beat Philadelphia and New York without Rodgers. And with four games on the schedule before the Packers come to town, it’s not worth fretting over matters outside the Cowboys’ next opponent.
But it’s certainly not a twist that looks likely to benefit the Cowboys.
NFC BEAST OF THE EAST: Review of the Dallas Cowboys division at the halfway point in the 2013-2014 NFL season (Special Feature)
The focus of this article is on the NFC East as a whole. Outside of the enormous popularity of the Dallas Cowboys, the division features some pretty prominent, popular franchises in their own right – and there’s the undeniable truth that all three are in the way of a Dallas Cowboys playoff berth.
NFC East: Analyzing The Importance Of November
It’s not October anymore. When the ball kicks off this Sunday for our three fair NFC East contestants, we’ll be into the second half of the season. The temperatures are starting to drop, and the games that determine the playoff picture are about to begin.
With that in mind, lets take a look at a stat that Dallas Cowboys fans should be well-familiar with by now, considering it’s one of Tony Romo’s most impressive numbers. As it’s been documented, since he took over starting duties for the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29, 2006, Romo has a staggering 21-4 record in the month of November.
That’s a statistic the Cowboys would desperately love to keep in line with. Dallas has four games sandwiched around a bye week this month – Minnesota tomorrow, at New Orleans in a week, at New York after the bye and home for Thanksgiving against Oakland.
That’s a combined record of 12-17, with the Saints comprising 50 percent of that win total. Take the current NFC No. 2 seed out of the equation, and the other three opponents are just 6-16. With outdoor road trips to Chicago and Washington, not to mention a home date against Green Bay, looming in December, a winning mark in November would be huge for Romo and Co.
It’s even more important when you look at the upcoming slates for the rest of the division.
The Redskins, captained by Robert Griffin III, actually begin their six-game win streak and eventual march to the playoffs in November last year. They’re going to need him to improve on his 2-1 November mark to remain in the hunt, as they host the white-hot Philip Rivers this weekend before making back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Philly, and then finishing the month off with a Monday night game against San Francisco.
Philadelphia has the last bye week in the league, with the final weekend of November the goal for a much-needed rest. In the meantime, they also have back-to-back road trips, to Oakland and Green Bay, before facing the Redskins at home. Nick Foles is winless in November, with an 0-2 mark. The Eagles would love to have Michael Vick back – though his career November record of 12-12-1 is hardly awe-inspiring.
Expect the upcoming month to sink both Washington and Philadelphia’s playoff hopes. Ironically enough, however, this 11th month of the year just may give a fighting chance to the once-buried Giants.
The much-needed bye week falls on the Giants this weekend. After a reprieve and a chance to get some guys healthy, they don’t have to leave the confines of MetLife Stadium until Dec. 1. During the three-game homestand, they’ll host the Raiders, Packers and Cowboys.
Despite the Giants’ run of postseason success, Eli Manning’s November record sits at just 13-19. In fact, New York is just 2-6 in November since 2011.
Does any of that mean anything? It’s hard to say for sure. It’s hard for some to take Romo’s winning ways in November too seriously when he hasn’t guided a team to the playoffs since 2009.
We didn’t decide much in this division in the first eight weeks – other than the fact that there isn’t a dominant team among the four.
Whoever manages the best over the next four or five weeks may find themselves in an enviable position when December starts.
NFC East: Burning Questions At The Halfway Point
Can we just chuck the first half of the season out the window? Is there a fan base in the NFC East that would really mind?
The array of mediocre traverses the entire spectrum among the NFL’s most volatile division. This is a group that’s had four different champions in the past four years, and it’s certainly playing up that moniker of parity.
Division leader Dallas has four wins – just two games ahead of cellar-dweller New York at the halfway point of the season. What’s the worst predicament?
Cowboys fans will tell you they should probably be 6-2, but you could make an easy argument the team has come painstakingly close to winning all eight games – refer yourself to the total margin of defeat of 14 points.
The Giants, continual contenders in the NFC with two Super Bowls in the last six seasons, plummeted to an 0-6 start – their worst such start to a season in 37 years. The division’s middling middle, Philadelphia and Washington, will go the way of their dynamic but injury-riddled quarterbacks.
It has all combined to give the NFC East the worst win total among the NFL’s eight divisions – 11-20. That’s one win more than the AFC South, which boasts a 10-19 mark thanks to hapless Jacksonville, but it’s also one more loss.
Go figure, the league’s western half – the AFC and NFC West, which boast four of the best teams in football in Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco and Seattle – are running away with collective records of 22-8 and 20-12, respectively.
In those divisions, and in several others, things are beginning to settle. We have a good idea of what’s going to happen in four or five of the league’s divisions.
But that’s not so in the NFC East, where the first half of the season hasn’t determined much other than that all four teams are equally flawed.
So what storylines are going to dictate the stretch run and the eventual division champion?
Dallas Cowboys: How well can they weather the injuries?
It sounds like a copout, because there’s a lot to be said about the shakiness of the Dallas offense, not to mention late-game decisions in all four Cowboys losses.
But as of Monday, they have lost starting right guard Brian Waters, likely for the year. Starting cornerback Morris Claiborne is also out for at least a handful of games with a bad hamstring. Starting safety Barry Church may also be iffy with a hamstring.
Don’t forget to factor those injuries in with the prior ones suffered by starters DeMarco Murray, DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin and J.J. Wilcox. All four players are expected back soon, but as of yet, we don’t know for sure when that will happen.
Don’t count on many teams stringing together wins with as many as six or seven starters missing from the lineup. The Dallas Cowboys need the bye week to get here, and quickly.
Philadelphia Eagles: What is Michael Vick’s status for the last eight games?
Michael Vick tried to give it a go on his injured hamstring last week against New York. It didn’t work out quite as well as he’d hoped – he completed 6-of-9 passes for 30 yards and a pick before exiting prior to halftime.
It doesn’t look likely he’ll be ready for this weekend’s trip to Oakland, and that’s a problem for the Philadelphia offense. Yes, the Eagles romped over winless Tampa Bay with Nick Foles at the helm. But it’s becoming increasingly more evident that as Vick goes, so goes the Philly attack.
In the four full games that Vick played before injuring the hamstring in the first game against the Giants, the Philadelphia offense was averaging 458 yards per game. In the three games since the injury, the average has plummeted to 300 yards per game.
Yes, the Eagles’ defense is atrocious, and it has cost them opportunities at a better record. But Chip Kelly’s offense has not hummed without his starting quarterback behind center. With a bad defense, they’ll need a strong offense to earn wins.
They need Vick.
Washington Redskins: Can RG3 rediscover his mojo?
It’s a pretty similar situation in D.C. as it is in Philly. The Redskins are an average team with a bad defense. They need a strong performance from their leader and pace-setter of a quarterback if they’re going to match last season’s division championship.
It seemed like Griffin had turned a corner after a slow start to 2013. He threw for a combined 544 yards in Weeks 6 and 7, and he led the Redskins to a last-minute victory against Chicago.
More notably in that, he rushed for a combined 181 yards in those two games after totaling just 72 yards on the ground in the first month of the season. He was beginning to look comfortable using both of his skillsets.
That all derailed in Sunday’s blowout loss to Denver. Griffin managed just seven rushing yards on five attempts, and he completed 50 percent of his passes for just 132 yards. He left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, though he has since been declared OK.
The fact of the matter is that Griffin is slumping across the board in his sophomore season. His completion percentage after seven games is at just 59 percent. He’s actually on pace to throw for 1,000 more yards than his 3,200 yards last season, but he already has eight interceptions in seven games, where he threw just five picks his entire rookie campaign.
The running issues are well-documented. Griffin is averaging roughly 34 yards on the ground to this point, and he hasn’t found the end zone as a runner yet.
These are the pressures that go with being a No. 2 pick. The Redskins need to win at least six of the last nine games, and they won’t do it unless Griffin’s play improves.
New York Giants: Can the lines continue to improve?
Sunday’s win against Philadelphia was not pretty, but it saw two significant improvements for the New York Giants.
Firstly, the offensive line won the day. The Giants weren’t great running the ball, with just 88 total yards, but they outrushed an Eagles rushing attack that has been tops in the league for most of the year. It also gave Eli Manning time to the make decisions, which allowed him to put together his second-straight interception-free game.
The Giants are 2-0 in games where Manning hasn’t thrown a pick. In their previous six, all losses, he threw 15 balls to the other team.
Secondly, the Giants’ defense managed four sacks against the Eagles after notching six combined sacks in the seven previous games. It’s a long way to go before anyone believes New York has re-discovered its pass rushing reputation, but it’s a start.
No team has ever started 0-6 and reached the playoffs. But in this division, the Giants now just sit two games out of first. If they can keep people away from their quarterback, and keep finding ways to reach opposing quarterbacks, they have a chance.
EDITORS COMMENT: It has come to my attention that adware is being posted on this site from WordPress (our host). These random advertising links are not authorized or approved by us! There are only four authorized links for legitimate endorsements (shameless plugs), all located together on the right column of this website (NFL Fan Rewards, Bing Rewards, NFL Game Rewind, and Blu eCigs).
It is my goal to keep this website reasonably AD-FREE and CLUTTER-FREE to keep your reading experience much more enjoyable. Lastly, please use the SHARE buttons below to help promote this website or leave a comment. Thanks for your support.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A wry grin broke out on Tony Romo’s face when asked to describe what happened on his spectacular touchdown pass Sunday night.
“I would normally ask you which one,” Romo joked after the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-16 win over the NFC East rival Washington Redskins, “but I think I know.”
Yep, there was only one, just a lone flash of brilliance from Romo. And the Cowboys won anyway.
After a week of discussion about how much blame he deserved for a loss in which he threw for five touchdowns and broke the franchise record for passing yards, Romo didn’t need to be a superhero to give the Dallas Cowboys a chance to beat the Redskins.
Not with a defense that had been dreadful the previous two weeks bending but not breaking, giving up 433 total yards but only allowing Washington into the end zone once. Not on a night that Dwayne Harris produced more yardage on returns than the Cowboys did on offense, scoring on an 86-yard punt return and setting up a touchdown with a 90-yard kickoff return.
Dwayne Harris returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and also had a 90-yard kickoff return.
“Dwayne did a great job and almost allowed us to kind of just sit over there as an offensive unit and rack up all his yards as if we did it without doing much work,” Romo said.
Romo’s work for the night: 18-of-30 for 170 yards and a touchdown with an interception. For his fantasy football owners, it was Romo’s worst performance of the season, not that any of the Dallas Cowboys were complaining.
Maybe the football gods owed Romo one after he ended up being the goat despite one of the greatest statistical performances in NFL history during the previous week’s shootout loss to the Denver Broncos. The Dallas defense definitely owed Romo one.
“Last week, the defense lost the game by not being able to get a stop,” said linebacker Sean Lee, who led the Cowboys with 10 tackles, including a touchdown-saving stop of Robert Griffin III on the Redskins’ first series. “When your offense plays as well as it does, putting up 48 points, and Tony plays as well as he did, you have to win those games if you want to be a good team, if you want to win Super Bowls. The defense let everybody down. We knew it, and we knew we had to find a way to bounce back this week.”
The reality is this kind of win is rare. The Cowboys usually need their franchise quarterback with the nine-figure contract to play up to his paycheck to be in position to pull out a victory.
That could be especially true over the next few weeks if injuries that knocked running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end DeMarcus Ware out of the game linger. Murray suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee; Ware strained his quadriceps. Their statuses for next week’s game in Philadelphia are uncertain.
The Dallas running game is a rumor without Murray. That’s evident by the 19 yards on 12 carries the other tailbacks generated against the Redskins.
The pass rush had been a problem even with Ware coming off the edge. The Cowboys managed to get three sacks and pressure Griffin several other times Sunday night, but it’s a stretch to see that happening consistently if Ware isn’t a major factor.
All of which means the Cowboys could be asking Romo to put up big numbers without the benefit of a balanced offense.
With road trips to Philadelphia and Detroit coming up, it’s probably a safe assumption that the Cowboys will need the spectacular version of Romo to return back home over .500.
They’ll need more plays like the only pass he completed in the third quarter, when he somehow made a clean-blitzing cornerback miss before perfectly dropping the ball to Terrance Williams in the back corner of the end zone for a 15-yard score, stretching Dallas’ lead to double digits.
“He shows that ability really on a consistent basis, week in and week out,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But I tell you what, that was a heck of a play.”
Added owner/general manager Jerry Jones: “That throw he made to 83 in the end zone after getting flushed out, that’s his A game.”
On this night, a flash of that was enough for the Cowboys. That’s reason to smile, an exception to the rule.
ARLINGTON, Tex. — If the Washington Redskins thought their bye week would cure what ailed them in the season’s early stages, they were mistaken. They emerged from their time off resembling the same struggling team they’d been beforehand. Breakdowns on special teams proved particularly costly and the Redskins lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-16, here Sunday night.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III had his best running game of the season, rushing for 77 yards. Tailback Alfred Morris had a long third-quarter touchdown run. But the Redskins too often settled for field goals by place kicker Kai Forbath and their record plummeted to 1-4.
The Cowboys gave owner Jerry Jones a victory to celebrate on his 71st birthday and evened their record at 3-3, putting them in a first-place tie with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Dwayne Harris had a touchdown on an 86-yard punt return in the second quarter, and added a 90-yard kickoff return in the third quarter to set up a touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to wide receiver Terrance Williams.
Tailbacks DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle had rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, with Randle’s one-yard run all but sealing the outcome with just less than nine minutes remaining after Griffin lost a fumble on a sack at his 3-yard line. Griffin threw an interception to end the Redskins’ next drive.
Romo threw an interception and managed a relatively modest 170 passing yards for the Cowboys. But that was enough for a win one week after he passed for 506 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos. Romo threw a late interception in that game that led to the Broncos’ winning field goal and that, to some observers, raised all of the old, familiar questions about his ability to produce in crunch time.
The start was not particularly promising for the Redskins, as their defense had no answers for Romo and the Cowboys on the game’s opening drive. Romo had a key third-down completion to tight end Jason Witten and Murray got the touchdown on a four-yard run.
Griffin was sharp at the outset, with a 19-yard completion to wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and a 15-yard run on a scramble on the Redskins’ first two offensive plays of the night. Rookie tight end Jordan Reed had a pair of catches on the Redskins’ opening drive and they moved quickly into scoring position. But Griffin was stopped two yards shy of the end zone on a third-and-goal run on a quarterback draw from the Dallas 9-yard line — a play call from which the team seemed to shy in the season’s first few games as Griffin worked his way back from knee surgery in January — and the Redskins were left with the first of Forbath’s three field goals.
The Redskins generated a second-quarter turnover when blitzing cornerback Josh Wilson batted a pass by Romo into the air and linebacker Rob Jackson, playing in his first game of the season after serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, grabbed the ball on the deflection for an interception. But the Redskins failed to convert, punting on each of their next two possessions.
The second of those punts resulted in Harris’s touchdown. The Redskins initially had the Cowboys backed up in their own territory but had to re-punt because of an illegal-motion penalty on their first attempt. This time, Harris caught Sav Rocca’s punt at his 14-yard line, weaved his way through would-be tacklers and sprinted along the sideline to the end zone as the Redskins’ Darryl Tapp and Jerome Murphy collided with one another while in pursuit. The Redskins also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when special teams coach Keith Burns, standing on the sideline, made inadvertent contact with one of the officials who was running to try to keep up with the play.
The Redskins regrouped and used Griffin’s 29-yard completion to Reed to set up Forbath’s 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Forbath connected again, this time from 33 yards, after Griffin’s 26-yard run on a scramble, plus 15 additional penalty yards for absorbing a late hit out of bounds, early in the third quarter.
No matter. Harris took the kickoff after that field goal and, from five yards deep in his own end zone, sprinted practically the length of the field before being knocked out of bounds by the Redskins’ E.J. Biggers at the 15-yard line. On second down from there, Romo eluded the blitzing Wilson and lofted a pass in the corner of the end zone to Williams, who made the grab and stayed in bounds for the touchdown.
Morris, given little running room to that point, had a swift reply by cutting across the field on his way to a 45-yard touchdown dash. But Forbath missed from 49 yards early in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys got a 30-yard field goal by their kicker, Dan Bailey.
Courtesy: By Mark Maske | The Washington Post
ARLINGTON – The Dallas Cowboys did what they were expected to do tonight, defeat a struggling Washington Redskins team at home.
Here are five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-16 win over the Redskins on Jerry Jones’ 71st birthday.
1.) It didn’t look like it for the first three quarters, but overall the Cowboys played above the level of their competition. A week after matching arguably the best team in the league, Dallas played around with a sub-par Washington group for three quarters. To their credit, they separated themselves when it mattered.
2.) Give that man the game ball. Dwayne Harris was the game’s MVP. Harris’ 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and his 90-yard kickoff return that set up Terrance Williams’ TD. The 26-year-old continues to makes plays when given the chance. As Jerry Jones would say, Harris’ arrow is pointing up.
3.) The worst news of the night was that DeMarco Murray (ankle) and DeMarcus Ware (quad) spent the entire second half wearing baseball caps and shorts on the sideline. If their injuries keep them out for an extended period of time the Cowboys are obviously in trouble.
4.) Give the defense a little credit. Yes, they didn’t play a great opponent, but they bounced back — and did it without Ware. Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee, Kyle Wilber, Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr all made big plays when needed. Monte Kiffin’s scheme still has holes that make it difficult to believe that they can contain the league’s top offenses.
5.) Even in a poor division, a win over an NFC East opponent is still valuable. If the Cowboys win the games they are supposed to win – like they did tonight – a division crown and home playoff game seem likely. After six weeks, the Cowboys are tied for the division lead at 3-3.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-16 victory against the Washington Redskins.
What it means for the Cowboys:
It might be too early in the season to say this was a must-win for the Dallas Cowboys, but coming off the disheartening 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos last week it really was.
Falling to 2-4 would have been devastating with back to back road games upcoming and the team in the midst of the first three-game losing streak of the Jason Garrett era.
This was by no means a masterpiece, but the Cowboys travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles with a 3-3 record and feeling a lot better about their team. The Cowboys are 2-0 in the division for the first time since 2007.
The special teams kick-started the victory with Dwayne Harris‘ punt return for a touchdown and the offense was able to take advantage of two short-fields (set up by a Harris kick return and a Kyle Wilber fumble recovery) for two touchdowns.
The first touchdown was a thing of beauty from Tony Romo, side-stepping a blitzing Josh Wilson and putting a pass to the corner for Terrance Williams. The second score was Joseph Randle‘s from 2 yards with 9:36 to play, but center Travis Frederick should get an assist from helping push the rookie running back across the goal line.
Rising — Jason Hatcher. He was without DeMarcus Ware for most of the game but he was simply a terror on the interior, giving the Redskins fits throughout. He had two sacks of Robert Griffin III to give him five on the season, which is a career high.
A special returner:
Dwayne Harris was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his three-tackle effort vs. the New York Giants in Week 1. He could win his second honor of the season for his returns against the Redskins.
Harris had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Cowboys a 14-3 lead. His 90-yard kickoff return in the third quarter set up Terrence Williams’ 15-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 21-9 lead.
It was the third kickoff return of at least 90 yards in franchise history that did not go for a touchdown.
Defense makes a stand:
It wasn’t perfect, but after allowing 1,023 yard and 81 points in their previous two games it didn’t need to be perfect though they still allowed 416 yards.
The Cowboys allowed a 45-yard touchdown to Alfred Morris, but made him work for his yards. After allowing back-to-back 400-yard passing games, they kept Robert Griffin III in check for most of the game as well, limiting him to 246 yards.
Kyle Wilber came up with a sack/fumble of Griffin to set up the clinching touchdown, and Orlando Scandrick had a pick of Griffin in the end zone to end a fourth-quarter threat
The defense even had three sacks after putting up one in the previous two games.
The Dallas Cowboys travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles. For defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin it will be a chance to show he can slow down Chip Kelly’s offense at the NFL. He didn’t do it at Southern Cal. In three games against Oregon, Kiffin’s defense allowed on average 601 yards and 50 points in losing two games. Last November the Trojans gave up 730 yards in a 62-51 loss.
After a crushing loss to Denver in which their offense played spectacularly, the Dallas Cowboys must regroup as they prepare to face division rival Washington tonight. The Redskins beat Dallas twice last season and could win three straight games against the Cowboys first time since the late-1980s. Washington, at 1-3, hasn’t looked nearly as formidable as it did in 2012 after it beat out the Cowboys for the NFC East title. But a bye week before this game could help the Redskins and their quarterback Robert Griffin III as he continues to recover from reconstructive knee surgery. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
Three of the Cowboys’ five games have been decided by a total of nine points. Yet Dallas has run the ball only 33.9 percent of the time. Dallas has repeatedly shown it isn’t willing to make a strong commitment to its ground game. Last Sunday, the Cowboys had only 14 rush attempts and tailback DeMarco Murray has been a non-factor since he gained 175 yards against St. Louis last month. This would be the week to run the ball, however. Washington is allowing 142.3 rushing yards per game – the second-highest average in the NFL.
When the Cowboys pass
Regardless of how Tony Romo’s performance ended Sunday, he showed he can be one of the best passers in the league with a 506-yard, five-touchdown effort. Dallas’ air attack looked explosive in the 51-48 loss to Denver as Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten each posted impressive stat lines. Romo and Co. should do well again this week against Washington’s defense, which is allowing an average of 298.3 passing yards per game. Only four teams are conceding more.
When the Redskins run
What happened to Washington’s running game? That’s a question being asked inside the Beltway. The Redskins’ rushing offense, which led the league in 2012, is ranked 17th. The limitations of Robert Griffin III after knee surgery and early deficits have conspired to weaken one of the Redskins’ strengths. A bye week may have given Washington a chance to sort things out against a Cowboys defense that yielded 200 yards to running back Alfred Morris in a December loss last year.
When the Redskins pass
Robert Griffin III remains the centerpiece of Washington’s offense. But the quarterback is much more likely to attack defenses through the air than on the ground. The Redskins are averaging 284.8 passing yards per game, the eighth-highest average in the NFL, despite having only one receiver – Pierre Garcon — among the top 50 in catches. The Cowboys, who allowed at least 400 passing yards in three games this season, will be tested again.
Kai Forbath has experienced more disappointment than excitement since he burst on the scene in 2012 and led the NFL in field goal percentage. Because of a groin injury, Forbath hasn’t played since the opener, when he missed a 40-yard attempt. He expects to be back on the field Sunday. He will be matched up against his old teammate, Dan Bailey, who has made 9 of 11 field goal tries this season.
The two losses to the Redskins the Cowboys suffered were arguably the most gut-wrenching defeats Dallas endured last season. Rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris tore up the Cowboys’ defense, prompting Dallas to make changes in the off-season to stop them. But until they prove they can, Griffin, Morris and the Redskins will have the mental edge in this age-old rivalry.
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards
View NFL|Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.
Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game
Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.
or listen via the Dallas Cowboys Android App on your phone or tablet
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game
To watch on TV, tune to:
KXAS-TV/NBC 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth | WRC-TV/NBC 4 Washington, DC
Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)
When: Sunday, October 13th, 2013 at 7:30 (Dallas time)
Where: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
Watch on TV: Local NBC affiliate | DirecTV
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Bookmark The Boys Are Back blog
The Boys Are Back blog | Read | Listen | Watch | Comment
Check back here for box scores, NFL videos, Dallas Cowboys pictures, highlights, gameday resources, game recaps, interesting articles, and Dallas Cowboys information all season long.
Signup for email alerts, RSS feeds, or add The Boys Are Back to your favorites.
Enjoy the game!
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Cowboys vs. Chargers pregame/postgame shows
Note: The postgame show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.
Spread the word about The Boys Are Back blog! Use the SHARE buttons below!
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.
Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back blog features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” wasn’t able to enlighten us. He kept getting mixed signals on the winner … along with what seemed to be out of this world stat vibes from both teams! He thought his ball was shorting out, so he remained silent and gave his ball a week to cool off.
This week, The GREAT Robbini is psyched about the Cowboys – Redskins incoming vibe… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions. OK, here we go …
The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game #6 predictions:
Kiffins’ Beast from the East awakens…
…the Texas 2 Defense. With an abysmal showing against Denver the Dallas Cowboys defense finally snaps back. What seemed to be the more dominant defense in a dubious NFC East will get back on track against the Redskins. DeMarcus Ware, General Lee, and the ‘boys take a stand against porous Washington. Cowboys shut ‘em down like food stamps.
Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …
- 3 takeaways
- 4 sacks
- 2 sacks Ware
- Lee/Carter lead tackles
- Griffin out at least one drive
- Hatcher fumble recovery
- Carr interception
Predictions for the offense …
- Romo 300 yards
- Romo 3 TDs
- Dez TD
- Austin TD
- Murray TD
- Rushing committee 140 yards
- Dez 100 yard game
- Williams 60 yards
- Witten 60 yards
- Cowboys receive second half kick
The GREAT Robbini
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for game #6. Leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.
For millions of folks around the D.C. area, Sunday night can’t get here soon enough, and not because they just can’t wait to go to work the next morning — or not go to work, still, for too many of us.
No, Sunday night is anxiously awaited because, of course, it’s Redskins vs. Cowboys! There are so many questions posed by this game (and it’s just a darn shame we’ll be forced to suffer through seven-plus hours of other NFL action before we get to it, right?). Questions such as: Coming out of a bye week, will Robert Griffin III regain the stellar form he showed in last year’s trip to Dallas? Can the Redskins solve the Cowboys’ new 4-3 front? Will Tony Romo pick up where he left off against the Broncos, and strafe Washington’s secondary? Or will Duffy’s Irish Pub run out of Jameson?
But while we wait for those questions to be answered, I have one this morning: Would you trade Dan Snyder for Jerry Jones? It’s no secret that Snyder hasn’t exactly been the most beloved team owner this part of the world has ever seen, but would the Cowboys owner be preferable?
First, a little tale of the tape:
- Age: Snyder, 48; Jones, 70 (71 on Sunday!)
- Net worth (according to Forbes): Snyder, $1.2 billion; Jones, $3 billion
- Made fortune in: Snyder, marketing; Jones, oil
- Owned team since: Snyder, 1999; Jones, 1989
- Regular season winning percentage since purchase: Snyder, .447; Jones, .535
- Team success: Snyder, two division titles; Jones, eight division titles, three Super Bowl wins
Snyder was born and largely raised in the D.C. area, while Jones is from Arkansas, so that deep local connection might be the trump card for many of you.
The wealth factor certainly favors Jones, but Snyder’s never been shy about splashing around cash (albeit often with unfortunate results), so that’s probably a wash.
Snyder obviously is a much younger man, so if you’re worried about your favorite team’s owner turning into a crazy old man, a la the late Al Davis, then Snyder would be your choice. But at the risk of getting morbid, if you’d much rather have an entirely different owner, then you might vote for Jones, who’s that much closer, one presumes, to the ultimate skybox.
As far as team stewardship goes, Jones had huge success almost immediately, but one could argue that Jimmy Johnson deserves most of the credit for that. In fact, Jones’s desire for greater control over the team’s personnel moves is widely cited as the reason Johnson left the team in 1993. Jones has operated as the Cowboys de facto general manager since then, but his teams have never been as good as the ones Johnson helped build. Snyder, on the other hand, seems to have stepped back a bit from his early, heavy involvement with the Redskins. He has had three head coaches over the past 10 seasons, as compared to five in his first five seasons.
Then there’s the controversy over the team’s name. If you’re looking for someone who’ll swear allegiance to the name “Redskins” through thick and thin, you can’t do better than Snyder. Jones recently offered his own defense of the name, but it was far more half-hearted, and you’d have to think that, without Snyder’s emotional attachment, Jones would elect to move in whichever direction the prevailing winds were blowing, especially if he thought they were blowing toward a big pile of cash.
So who ya got? Snyder or Jones?
And what vote-swaying distinction between them have I failed to mention?
Courtesy: Desmond Bieler | The Washington Post
Editors comment: Same question can be reversed … would you trade Jerry Jones for Daniel Snyder? Would you trade Jerry Jones for any other NFL owner? If so, who … and why?
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys below .500 for the first time this year after a disappointing loss to Denver last week. How do the Cowboys respond against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium tomorrow night?
Here are the gut feelings from Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner. What do YOU think?
I’m positive the Redskins are going to throw some new looks at the Cowboys this weekend, and I’m pretty sure the Dallas defense isn’t going to respond to well to it. I don’t think Robert Griffin III is going to run for 100 yards, but I think he’s got the mobility to evade the Dallas pass rush and make some plays. That said, I think the Cowboys offense will maintain its high performance from last week against an atrocious Washington secondary. With Miles Austin healthy, there should be even more options in the attack, and Tony Romo will find them for another 300-plus yard outing. Griffin and Alfred Morris will be able to move the ball well enough to score some points. But I think Romo and Co. lead Dallas to a close win. I’m thinking 34-31, Cowboys.
The Cowboys’ defense will be happy to see anyone not named Peyton Manning this week. Robert Griffin III is still putting up nice numbers through the air, but he hasn’t demonstrated the same explosiveness that made him so unstoppable last year. His defense hasn’t helped him out much either, and I don’t see that changing this weekend. I don’t think the Cowboys offense spreads it out quite as much the way they did against the Broncos and the way many fans are clamoring for, but a more balanced attack will still get the victory. Terrance Williams will get sent on deeper routes and make one long grab, but Miles Austin will get more targets. Dez Bryant keeps his scoring streak going, while Bruce Carter gets back on track by affecting Robert Griffin III on the blitz.
This is a tricky game to gauge because while typically the Cowboys play the opposite of last week, how do we call last week’s loss. Yes, it was a loss but offensively, they put on a show. So do the Cowboys bounce back from the tough defeat with a win, or do they falter offensively and play below the lofty expectations they’ve suddenly set. I think it’s somewhere in between. I see the Cowboys struggling early on offense but picking it up in the second half to win by a touchdown. All this talk about RGIII not scrambling as much makes me think he’ll break off a 30-yard run and probably have at least 50 yards rushing. Some random predictions include a turnover by Bruce Carter, a career-high rushing day for Joseph Randle (which could be one yard) but 120 rushing yards and two scores from DeMarco Murray.
It has been a rough two weeks for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and the Cowboys defense. The promising efforts against the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams seem like distant memories. Those days of turnovers, quarterback pressure and getting off the field on third downs, have been replaced by opponents moving the ball like they were throwing 7-on-7 drills. This will not be an easy task to defend the Washington attack, headlined by Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon. But someone on this defense has to draw a line in the sand and find a way to make some game changing plays. The challenge will have to come from this current group, because Darren Woodson, Bob Lilly and Randy White are not walking through that door. My gut tells me that this defense will draw that line in the sand and find a way to get this season back on track with a great defensive effort.
VALLEY RANCH VINDICATION VIBE: Dallas Cowboys have a chance at redemption against the Washington Redskins
IRVING, Texas – Last week’s emotionally jarring defeat is made more manageable when there’s a chance at redemption against the Redskins and moving to 2-0 in the division.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten admitted the days following the loss to the Denver Broncos were tough. But now five days removed, having a division rival on the slate that swept the regular season series last year makes shifting the focus easier to handle.
Witten said he continued to rewind missed opportunities from last Sunday’s game back in his head the first few days of this week, especially because it felt offensively like they’d score every time. But he knows he’s the last person that can afford to reminisce.
“There were so many big plays in the game on both ends, so it took a while (to get over),” Witten said. “But you don’t have a choice. I think as leaders on this team, people are looking around to see how you handle yourself, so you’ve obviously got to come in and move on. Really, to get to a division game, you don’t have a choice.”
The focus is now entirely on a Redskins team that confused the Cowboys with blitzes and ran down the throat of the Dallas defense, winning the first matchup last season, 38-33, and the season finale, 28-18. Tony Romo threw for 441 yards in the first loss, but he compiled just 218 passing yards in the second game and threw a combined five interceptions between the two games.
DeMarco Murray could do nothing but watch the first defeat as he nursed a foot injury. He was able to play in the finale and average 4.5 yards per carry.
“We know how important these division games are,” Murray said. “We really don’t look at records and those things, but each division game is important, and we’ve got to make most of them count.”
Witten said frustration can set in when he looks back at those losses, the latter of which forced the Cowboys out of playoff contention. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett sent various blitzes that brought Romo down twice in the finale and forced him to throw three picks.
“They outplayed us,” Witten said. “They brought a lot of pressure against us and got there different ways. It felt like we were on our heels the entire game. We turned the ball over, did all the things you hope not to in those big games like that. It’s a tough tape to go back and watch and learn, and I’m sure we’re going to expect Jim Haslett to do the same kind of stuff. Hopefully, we’ll have some better answers this year.”
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones admitted after Sunday’s loss to the Broncos that the defeat would be tough to swallow for a few days for the Dallas Cowboys, who have a 24-hour rule to put everything behind them. Head coach Jason Garrett said earlier this week that rule can be a tough challenge, but the Cowboys need to shake off whatever success or adversity they had from the previous week.
That challenge can be even tougher for a quarterback who threw for five touchdowns and more than 500 yards, yet still lost after throwing his first interception with two minutes left. Witten has no doubt Tony Romo will bounce back this week.
He commends Romo for how he handles himself after those situations, and Witten said the offense goes as Romo goes.
“I think that’s one of the greatest traits he has as a player – he’s as composed as anybody I’ve ever been around,” Witten said. “He just has great mental toughness and composure to move forward. A lot of times as professional athletes, you think some of the most mentally tough people you know, I think he exemplifies it every time he goes out there every day.”
The Cowboys will need a resilient Romo this week against a Redskins team that’s had their number in the last two matchups with Robert Griffin III at the helm. Witten said these games are what teams play for, and the Cowboys need to find a way to get to stay undefeated in the division.
Cornerback Brandon Carr knows the defense will have to put the team in better shape to make that happen after allowing 51 points last week.
“Another high-powered offense that can get the ball down the field,” Carr said. “We have our hands full, but we better get the job done. When the ball’s in the air, you’ve got to take it away.”