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Can Redskins beat the Romo-less Cowboys and stay on top?


Can Redskins beat the Romo-less Cowboys and stay on top?

The Redskins spent the past two Decembers hoping to spoil someone else’s postseason hopes.

When they host Dallas tonight at FedEx Field, however, the script will be flipped.

The Tony Romo-less Cowboys (3-8) have lost eight of their last nine games and would like nothing more than to drag a bitter rival down with them.

Are the Redskins (5-6) up to the challenge? Can Kirk Cousins and Co. win back-to-back games and end their struggles in prime time? Will they extend their tenuous lead in the NFC East, or will they wake up Tuesday morning in a three-way tie with the Eagles and Giants?

Redskins vs. Cowboys is always a big game. Tonight it’s a little bigger.  

For all of the your pregame and postgame coverage, tune into CSN Mid-Atlantic. Redskins Kickoff begins at 7:30 on CSN+, and Redskins Postgame Live starts at 11:30 on CSN.

Here are my five storylines to monitor:

1-Next man up. With inside linebacker Perry Riley sidelined, Mason Foster will make his first start since Week 16 of last season when he played for Tampa Bay. Foster has plenty of experience, having started 54 games for the Bucs from 2011-14, but he’s played only 17 snaps for the Redskins. You’ve also got to wonder when/if all the injuries will become too much to overcome. Riley, who was playing his best football of the season when he broke a bone in his foot in practice Thursday, is the second starter to be lost since Thanksgiving, joining cornerback Chris Culliver. “We’ve had a million injuries this year from the beginning of the season until now,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “Next man will step up and we’ll keep moving a million miles-per-hour forward and not flinch.”

2-No Romo. Speaking of injuries, the Cowboys' starting quarterback is sidelined again with a cracked collarbone. It could be argued that no single player (on either roster) is as important as Romo is to his team. The Cowboys are 3-1 with Romo this season, and 0-7 without him. Matt Cassel, who is with his fourth team in four seasons, will start in Romo’s place. He’s 0-4 as a starter this season, with four touchdowns and five interceptions. Those stats, though, mean little to the Redskins, Barry said. “I know No. 9 [Romo] is hurt and is not playing, but No. 16 [Cassel] has played a bunch of games,” Barry added. “He’s had a pretty darn good career. He’s got a [good] supporting cast around him. He’s got a great offensive line. He's got No. 88 [Dez  Bryant], No. 82 [Jason Witten] and No. 20 [Darren McFadden] has played a lot of good football in his career. This is the National Football League. You’ve got to be ready every week.”    

3-Rediscovering the run game. One of the keys to beating the Giants was the Redskins’ resurgent ground attack. Alfred Morris rushed for 78 yards on 23 carries, just a week after rushing for 0 yards on 2 carries at Carolina. Game situation, of course, had something to do with it; Washington jumped out to a 20-0 lead against New York. But Coach Jay Gruden says he really liked what he saw from Morris, particularly on the decisive fourth quarter drive as the Redskins protected a six-point lead. “He looked a little bit more decisive,” Gruden said. “There were a couple of one or two yards gains in there, but he was decisive. …He was able to carry some tacklers and get the tough extra yard or two, which was good to see.” Morris’ 2015 season has been marked by inconsistency, though. Good games have often been followed by poor ones. Which Morris will show up tonight in Landover? The Cowboys' Sean Lee-led defense, by the way, is allowing 106.9 yards rushing per game (17th).

4-Hitting his stride. After missing the offseason while recovering from a minor knee surgery and then battling through a midseason hand injury, Ryan Kerrigan has started to resemble the player who enjoyed a breakthrough last season. The 27-year-old has three sacks and 10 quarterback pressures, according to, in the past two games after failing to register a sack in the four prior contests. For a little more on Kerrigan and the recent mental adjustment he's made, click here for a story I wrote last week.

5-Trends to watch. The Redskins are riding a five-game winning streak at home, their longest run since 1991. …During that stretch, Cousins is 5-0 with 1,336 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 3 rushing touchdowns and a 121.2 passer rating. …Washington, however, has not won back-to-back games since Weeks 7-8 of last season, and Cousins has never won back-to-back starts. …The Redskins are 2-8 on Monday night since 2008. Their last win, of course, came in overtime at Dallas last October. Can they beat their bitter rivals under the lights again? Their playoff hopes could be riding on it.  

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' defensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' defensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 20, 37 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at the 2018 depth chart—defense

The Redskins are likely to make a few more free agent acquisitions and there is the draft, but the depth chart is beginning to settle in. Let’s take a look at where the defensive side of the ball stands now. The offense was covered yesterday.

Defensive line: Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee
Backups: Terrell McClain, Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood

I wrote this on Monday afternoon wondering if I would have to edit it to add Jonathan Hankins but that has not happened yet. I have to think that they will use a top draft pick on a D-lineman if they don’t land one in free agency. That could create some competition between Hood and McClain for the last roster spot.

Linebackers: OLBs Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan; ILBs Mason Foster, Zach Brown
Backups: Ryan Anderson, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Martrell Spaight

Again, I thought I might have to edit this because of the return of Junior Galette or the addition of Pernell McPhee but as it is, the Redskins are looking for an additional reserve edge rusher to go with Anderson. There might only be room for two backup inside linebackers between Vigil, Harvey-Clemons, and Spaight.

Defensive backs: CBs Quinton Dunbar, Josh Norman; FS Montae Nicholson, SS D.J. Swearinger
Backups: Orlando Scandrick, Fabian Moreau, Josh Holsey, Deshazor Everett

I debated including Su’a Cravens here because he is on the roster, but I think that the odds that he will be on the 53-man roster in September are slim. If he doesn’t return they will need some help at safety. You can count on Scandrick playing in the slot. They seem to like both Dunbar and Moreau better on the outside and Scandrick can give Holsey a chance to develop inside.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 28
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 130
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 174

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.