If the always underdog Washington Redskins hope to beat the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas on a Monday night, they better show up ready to play. As far as division rivalries go, there are no rivalries bigger than Redskins vs. Cowboys. There can’t be. Nobody 10 years old ever ran around playing “Packers and Bears” with their neighborhood friends, did they?
But Cowboys and Indians…oh boy. Now there was a fight. Of course unlike the rest of America, in my Maryland neighborhood everybody wanted to be a Native American and send an arrow right through the heart of the scummy cowpokes with the funny hats.
So, now that I’m all grown up (physically, at least) I live for the twice a year showdown between my beloved Redskins and the Evil Cowboys. Not the most popular stance for a guy now living in Austin, Texas, let me tell you.
So without any further ado, here are the four keys to a Washington victory this Monday.
Sorry, but Trent Williams has not proven he is capable of protecting Rex Grossman's blindside on his own. The day may come where he proves that he’s as good as everyone thought he was, but that day isn’t now. Blockers out of the backfield need to key on DeMarcus Ware whichever side he lines up on.
Over all, the line was fantastic last week, but they need to keep the excellent blocking going come Monday night.
If the Cowboys are watching film, they are going to realize that Rex was actually better under pressure than when under a basic four man rush last week. However, Dallas can have the best of both worlds if DeMarcus Ware becomes a one man wrecking crew in the backfield. The secondary could then focus on coverage and allow the linebackers to work the run. That would place them in a much better position to capitalize on any mistakes Rex might make.
But if Ware is mostly contained, the Cowboys defense will need to stay honest against the run, and if that happens, it’s only a matter of time until the Redskins find themselves in the red zone. That brings us to key No. 2…
Two touchdowns in seven trips last week is inexcusable. The Redskins are not going to have that many visits this week, so they have to make the times they do get inside the 20-yard line count.
I have no idea how they can fix this other than the simple platitudes of execution, timing and toughness, but they better do it if they want to win this week.
I’m predicting a rather low scoring game, and if the Redskins make it into the red zone more than four times, I’ll be surprised. If they don’t come away with at least 24 points, they will be in serious danger of losing this game. I think it will take at least 20 to win, and that’s assuming the Redskins accomplish key No. 3…
The Redskins defense is looking more and more like it is going to be a powerhouse this season. They are stepping up when they have to, holding opposing teams when it counts, making big plays when needed, and getting off the field in a timely manner.
The Redskins defense has been susceptible to the big play in both of the last two games, and it looks like they are a little too over aggressive at times. The Cardinals exploited their over penetrating defense for substantial running gains in the second half, and DeAngelo Hall gave up one highlight reel quality play to Larry Fitzgerald despite almost totally shutting him down the entire game. Perhaps if LaRon Landry is back in the game, the deep threat will be negated somewhat.
Due to the serious nature of his injuries, Tony Romo may or may not play, but the safe bet is to assume he’ll be out there on Monday. I personally feel this is a mistake because, despite my loathing of Dallas, I never want to see a player get carted off the field with a serious injury.
Washington will sack Romo more than once, and they will knock him down up to 10 times on Monday. They are simply that good. Kevlar vest or not, Tony Romo has a broken rib and a punctured lung. He is taking a ridiculously unnecessary risk with his long-term health.
Playing this week is stupid, but the Redskins are not going to go easy on him, especially if they follow key No. 4…
I think the biggest danger to the Washington Redskins' game is their mental readiness come Monday. They are facing two rather unique challenges in this regard.
First and foremost, the Redskins have to overcome the overconfidence of having a 2-0 record. They are not indestructible, and they are not invincible. They have to come out ready for a tough game, and not overconfident that the injury-plagued Cowboys are going to be a pushover.
Swagger is all well and good, but reality is reality and the Redskins need to do more than just claim they're better than everyone else says. They have to show it.
Look to the Ravens' miserable Week 2 outing to understand my concern. The Redskins of the past few years had a depressing tendency to take entire games off after a win.
Dallas would love to face an overconfident Redskins on a Monday night. This brings me to the second issue: The ghost of Monday night football past.
Last year the Redskins were humiliated on a Monday night by another division rival. One they had beaten earlier in the season. The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t just beat the Redskins, they destroyed them. That game took away any chance the Redskins had of a productive season. Quite simply, they never recovered mentally.
In fact, the Redskins have a 27-33 record overall on Monday night, but have been the victim of more than a few blowouts.
This year it’s a whole new attitude, but you know that somewhere in the back of every veterans' mind is last year’s debacle in prime time. They have to put that behind them this week and focus on beating the entirely beatable Dallas cowboys.