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Redskins vs Cowboys: 5 things to know for much more than just Thanksgiving rivalry game

Redskins vs Cowboys: 5 things to know for much more than just Thanksgiving rivalry game

Dallas Week culminates when the Redskins take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

Families throughout the DMV will try to time their turkeys for a perfect golden brown during halftime of the 4:30 kickoff, and considering the game is indoors at Jerry Jones' football palace, weather will not be a concern.

Beware of the food coma as all the coverage starts with Redskins Kickoff on CSN at 3:30. Here are five storylines to watch in the 113th meeting of Redskins vs Cowboys.


1. Going streaking — The Redskins have not lost a game in more than a month and are coming off their best victory of the season over the Green Bay Packers.

In that game, the Washington offense finally clicked on all cylinders as Kirk Cousins threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns and the team posted more than 500 yards of total offense in a 42-24 romp. Dallas is on their own streak, winners of an impressive nine straight games and in sole possession of the best record in the NFL at 9-1.

Somebody's streak will snap by the time the pecan pie rolls out Thursday night.

2. Yeah, but who have you beaten? — There's some thought that the Dallas win streak is less impressive because they haven't played many tough teams.

It's true that the Cowboys last eight opponents are all below .500, they've only played two teams with winning records, and lost one of them. That said — the Cowboys pulled off a come-from-behind win against the Steelers in Pittsburgh two weeks ago before knocking off the Ravens by 10 points last week.

Neither of those wins was easy.

3. Texas Shootout — Washington's offense ranks second in the league at 418 yards-per-game; Dallas ranks fourth at 413. Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins pass the ball better than Dak Prescott and the Cowboys - Washington ranks 3rd overall in pass-yards-per-game, Dallas is 15th - but the scenario is flipped when it comes to running the ball.

Behind a dominant offensive line, the Cowboys rank 1st in the NFL for their run game that goes for more than 150 yards-per-game. Rookie RB Ezekiell Elliott leads the NFL with 1,102 rush yards. The 'Skins rank 10th at 117 YPG, good but not superb like the Dallas ground game. All signs point to both teams moving the ball on Thursday, just like the first matchup between the team where both offenses went for more than 800 total yards combined.

4. Lessons from September — Looking at the box score from the Redskins' Week 2 loss to the Cowboys, no numbers really stick out. The game was hard fought and tight throughout, but an end zone interception from Cousins cost the 'Skins an imporant chance to score.

In fact, red zone scoring has been the only negative aspect of Washington's offensive game this season, though it seemed the team worked some of that out last week dropping 42 on Green Bay. Jay Gruden talked time and time again of the Redskins attack being capable of scoring inside the 20, and the coach wisely preached patience with his team. 

​5. Beware of the 2nd quarter— This season, the Redskins defense has repeatedly had letdowns in the second quarter. In multiple games, Washington has gotten out to a 14-0 lead only to see the opponent come back and tie the score or take the lead (vs Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota).

The second quarter woes prompted defensive coordinator Joe Barry to joke that he only remembered the 1st, 3rd and 4th quarters from the Vikings games. In fact, the Redskins have allowed more second quarter points (91) this season than the first and third quarters combined (81). Making that problem worse: Dallas' offense scores the most in the second quarter.

Oddly, the Cowboys have exactly 91 second-quarter points scored this season, the same amount the Skins have given up. For Washington, winning the second quarter leads to a much higher probability of winning the game.

Numbers & Notes:

  • A win Thursday would give the Redskins victories in consecutive Thanksgiving contests for the first time in team history.
  • A win Thursday would give the Redskins three consecutive seasons with victories in Dallas for the first time since 1987-89.
  • If Kirk Cousins throws for more than 400 yards Thursday, he would take sole possession of most 400-yard passing games in franchise history. Currently, Cousins is tied with Sonny Jurgdensen and Mark Rypien, and another 400-yard passing day would make Cousins the only Redskins to accomplish the feat twice in one season.
  • If Jamison Crowder scores a TD, it would be the first time in his career to do so in four straight games, and he would be the first Redskins pass catcher with a TD in four straight games since Fred Davis in 2009.
  • If Robert Kelley rushes for 10 yards or more, he will become the first Redskins running back to post consecutive 100-yard rushing games since Alfred Morris in Weeks 8-9 of the 2013 season. He would be the first Redskins rookie to accomplish the feat since Morris in Weeks 11-13 of the 2012 season.
  • Josh Norman has forced two fumbles this season, and if he can force one more, three forced fumbles would be a career high.
  • With one catch Thursday, tight end Jordan Reed will tie Brian Mitchell in 14th place with 232 career receptions with the Redskins. Reed is only seven catches behind Larry Brown on the 'Skins all-time receptions list at 13th place. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

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


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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 

Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

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

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Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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