After a blowout loss to the Steelers to open the season the Redskins definitely need a win Sunday against the Cowboys. Full coverage starts at CSN at noon before kickoff at 1 p.m. The weather forecast shows thunderstorms could blow towards FedEx Field during the game. Here are five things to know before kickoff:
- Old school football - Watch a regular Sunday in the NFL and it's obvious that the game has evolved. Few teams rely on a smashmouth run game like they did 20 years ago, but the Cowboys are a group that does best when running the ball. Dallas spent a the 4th overall draft choice on rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot this offseason. In his debut last week against the Giants, Elliot struggled, rushing 20 times for just 51 yards, and average of 2.5 yards-per-carry. Behind Elliot is ex-Redskins RB Alfred Morris, who excelled in his Dallas premiere, rushing seven times for 35 yards. Considering the Redskins gave up nearly 150 yards to Pittsburgh, expect the Cowboys to try to prod the Washington defense early and often with their run game.
- Press the rook - Where the Redskins can succeed against the Cowboys is pressuring rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. Last week against New York, Prescott completed 25 of 45 passes for 227 yards. Washington's defense would love to see Prescott throw the ball 45 times again, as that would give Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan a chance to get their seasons on track and would keep the ball away from the Dallas run game. With Washington's secondary - regardless who is covering Dez Bryant - playmakers like Josh Norman, DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland will be looking to make plays against Prescott.
- Stay committed - Jay Gruden's offense only got the ball to its running backs 11 times against Pittsburgh. Some of that was dictated by penalties and game situation, but no matter what, the 'Skins have to run the ball more Sunday against Dallas. Asked this week what an ideal number of carries for his RBs would be, Gruden explained that the game dictates the carries but he would strive for 20 to 30 carries per game. The Redskins must allow Matt Jones to get to 15 carries this week, and supplement that with another 10 between Chris Thompson and rookie Robert Kelley. Gruden and OC Sean McVay talked this week about a balanced offense; to do so the Redskins have to run the ball.
- 7, not 3 - Kirk Cousins moved the ball well against the Steelers. The Redskins piled up more than 300 yards passing, but early in the game, Cousins and the offense could not get to the end zone. On two early possessions the Redskins had scoring opportunities but walked with field goals instead of touchdowns. Much of the 2015 success for the Redskins came from converting TD chances and not leaving points on the board. To beat Dallas, that will need to be the case again.
- Get right - The Redskins have some unease at defensive line, as Kendall Reyes will miss Sunday's game and Chris Baker showed up on the injury report for a few days during the week. Barring an unexpected setback, Baker should play, and the team can now count newly signed Cullen Jenkins as part of their D-line rotation. Offensively, Trent Williams missed practice on Friday but a Redskins offensive coach made clear they expect the left tackle to play Sunday. Health on both the offensive and defensive lines will be a big factor vs the Cowboys.
Numbers & Notes:
- DeAngelo Hall will play in his 100th game with the Redskins on Sunday.
- DeSean Jackson is 84 yards away from 8,000 receiving yards in his career.
- A Redskins win Sunday would put Jay Gruden's NFC East winning percentage over .500.
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