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No surprises in Dallas - Cowboys 'were expecting' Redskins first onsides kick

No surprises in Dallas - Cowboys 'were expecting' Redskins first onsides kick

DALLAS - The Redskins tried to surprise the Cowboys early in the fourth quarter of Thursday's 31-26 loss with an onsides kick. It didn't work, and after the game, Dallas coach Jason Garrett revealed that his team knew the onsides attempt was coming.

"We were expecting it. We were prepared for it," Garrett said. "I thought our guys did a good job of recovering it. I think it was about nine and change to go in that ball game, so I felt like they wanted to steal that possession at that point. You have to have your antenna up and be ready for those situations. I thought our guys handled it well."

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The onsides attempt came immediately following a long touchdown throw from Kirk Cousins to DeSean Jackson, which brought the Redskins within five points of the Cowboys. The 'Skins defense had forced some stops on the Dallas offense in the second half, and Washington coach Jay Gruden thought it was the right time to try to steal a possession on the kickoff.

"On the onside kick, we had a look we thought we could get. We had the look exactly the way we wanted to," Gruden said. 

Instead of kicking the ball deep, Dallas recovered the onsides attempt and had possession basically at midfield. The Washington defense could not get a stop and the Cowboys would go on to score again. 

"If we see something that’s there and we practice it and we like it, we’ve got to take chances to do it. It can change the course of the game, the momentum and everything. I thought it was worth a chance," Gruden said. "I told our defense we were about to do it so be ready for a short field, and, unfortunately, we didn’t get off the field and they went down and scored."

In a close game between two good teams, sometimes just the way a football bounces can make a big difference.

When the 'Skins tried to surprise Dallas with the onsides, Washington did not really come close to recovering the ball. Yet, late in the fourth quarter when the Redskins desperately needed the ball back and everyone in the stadium knew an onsides was coming, the Skins got close to recovering the ball. 

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NFC East Update: The division race is shaping up very well for the Redskins

NFC East Update: The division race is shaping up very well for the Redskins

The Redskins helped themselves in the NFC East division race with a big Week 10 win over the Buccaneers, and then the Cowboys helped their rival out again with a big win in Philadelphia.

With seven games remaining and the NFL calendar starting to get serious about playoff situation and scenarios, the 6-3 Redskins are in the driver's seat in the division. 

"I think the good thing being 6-3, being in first place is we control what we have to control. We don’t have to look at the other teams, we just have to focus on what we do and if we do our job, we don’t have to worry about anything," head coach Jay Gruden said Monday. 

And he's right. The Redskins have built a cushion in the division, and if they keep winning at a .667 clip, nobody can catch them.

Here's the NFC East update:

  1. Washington Redskins (6-3, 2-0) - This team isn't winning pretty, and they certainly don't make many highlight plays on offense, but the Washington formula for victories is working. At +11, the Redskins are 3rd in the NFL in turnover margin and they own a defense that doesn't give up many points. Fans can debate if the offense is too limited, but for now running the ball and playing strong defense is piling up wins. Washington hasn't been 6-3 since 2008. Another large test looms on Sunday when Houston comes to FedEx Field, riding a six-game win streak. Up next: Nov. 18th vs Texans,1 p.m.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (4-5, 2-1) - Things have been a roller coaster in Big D. Two weeks ago it looked like the Cowboys season might spiral out of control after a blowout loss at home to the Titans. Speculation began to mount about the future for head coach Jason Garrett. A week later, after a major win in Philly on Sunday Night Football, Cowboys fans are back focused on the playoffs, not firing their coach. Dallas has built an impressive young defense, though the offensive struggles remain. Similar to the Redskins, Dallas has one of the worst pass games in the NFL but relies on running the football. Up next:  Nov. 18th @ Atlanta, 1 p.m. 
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5, 1-1) - At no point this season have the Eagles looked like the same 2017 juggernaut that won the city's first-ever Super Bowl. Much of that was chalked up to injury, particularly Carson Wentz working back from a knee injury last year, and new parts on defense. The Eagles had a Week 8 bye, made a trade to acquire WR Golden Tate, and were facing the slumping Cowboys in Week 9. All signs pointed to a big Eagles win and the Philly machine getting back on track for the second-half of the 2018 season. Only it didn't happen. The Eagles haven't won two games in a row yet this season, and road games against the Saints and the Rams are still on deck. Up next: Nov. 18th @ New Orleans, 4:25 p.m.
  4. New York Giants (2-7, 0-3) - The Giants doubled their season win total with a road win in San Francisco over the 49ers. It was a good victory, but hardly impressive. The Niners are equally bad and currently starting their 3rd-string QB. Still, Odell Beckham remains optimistic for his New York squad and thinks the team could go on a undefeated streak to close out the season. It's not realistic considering the offensive line and Eli Manning's play at quarterback, but it's a nice theory. The Giants are 0-4 at home and 0-3 in the division. Up Next: Nov. 18th vs Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

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Crazy amount of injuries piling up for Redskins 2018 draft class

Crazy amount of injuries piling up for Redskins 2018 draft class

Overall, the Redskins injury situation is again bordering on the absurd. In 2017 injuries derailed the defense, and in 2018, the same thing is happening on the offensive side of the ball. 

The big names are the most obvious losses, guys like Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson too. 

But beyond the big names, an even more absurd injury trend has emerged, and it's wrecking the Redskins' 2018 draft class.

First-round pick Daron Payne has been terrific for this team, but after that, the Redskins rookies have all landed in the trainers room, and eventually, the injured reserve. 

  • Derrius Guice - 2nd round pick - IR - Out for year in preseason
  • Geron Christian - 3rd round pick - IR - Played two games before going to IR Week 11.
  • Troy Apke - 4th round pick - IR - Played two games before going to IR Week 9.
  • Trey Quinn - 7th round pick - IR - Played in season opener before going to IR, eligible to come back as early as this week.
  • Cam Sims - Undrafted free agent - IR - Played in season opener before going to IR. Last update Jay Gruden said that Sims was not ready to return from injury. 
     

It's never wise to rush to judge a draft class. Players need to mature over a few NFL seasons.

For the 2018 class, however, it's hard to gauge their performance since the Redskins have gotten so little on-field production.

Payne has been terrific, but outside of his stellar play on the defensive line and the work from seventh-round pick Greg Stroman and undrafted free agent Danny Johnson, the 'Skins aren't getting much from their rookies.

Christian and Apke did not look good in the limited work they got. After flashing plenty of potential in training camp, Guice got hurt in the preseason. The Redskins could use help at WR, but Quinn and Sims haven't done it so far. Quinn will get a chance to come back, but Sims probably won't.

Beyond Payne and the two cornerbacks, other rookies Tim Settle, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Adonis Alexander are all playing small roles and helping the team. Stroman made his first career interception in Sunday's win over the Bucs, and Hamilton forced a fumble earlier this season. 

In some ways it's remarkable that Washington has performed so well this season while getting so little from valuable draft choices. It's a testament to the team's depth. And certainly rookie injuries don't mean the players won't become more valuable down the road. 

Still, add it all up, and it's astonishing that the Redskins have placed five rookies on the IR. And it's only Week 11. 

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