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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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Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': Three overall observations of Ron Rivera based on the entire series

Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': Three overall observations of Ron Rivera based on the entire series

Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here are his main takeaways about Rivera after completing the entire series.

Instead of specifically reviewing the finale of Amazon's 2018 All Or Nothing — which focused a lot on Carolina's plans for the future, since their playoff dreams had been erased — it feels more valuable to zoom out and evaluate Ron Rivera based on all eight episodes of the show instead.

So, with that in mind, here are three main takeaways about Washington's new coach that Redskins fans will care about, takeaways that stem from what the series captured.

1) Competition and accountability will be what he values most

"Moreso than anything else, when you compete, you compete to win," Rivera said in the second episode of All Or Nothing during a team meeting. "If you just want to be on the field, just tell me and I’ll let you stand on the sideline. We need guys that want to compete. That’s what gives you the chance to win."

From the premiere through episode eight, Rivera harps on competing and competition and being competitors — basically any variation of that word you can think of, he mentions. That kind of obsession should permeate throughout his new organization and click in with players like Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Allen and Landon Collins.

Accountability was another one of Rivera's cherished concepts, which was especially apparent in an episode seven speech he delivered to the defense. He preached the importance of every Panther doing their own, individual job, something that he'll continue with the Redskins.

Overall, those Rivera favorites go hand in hand. Expect him to bring them up a lot during press conferences, interviews and more, and expect his new team to do the same.

2) He puts a lot of trust in his players, both veterans and young contributors

Whether he was counting on Cam Newton to lead a game-winning drive, Graham Gano to make a monstrous field goal or DJ Moore to bounce back after fumble issues, Rivera was always backing and trusting his roster.

What was especially cool, though, is seemingly everyone received the same treatment, regardless of status, salary or experience.

When the Burgundy and Gold introduced Rivera as their next head coach in January, he stood at the podium in Ashburn and recalled that, when he accepted Dan Snyder's offer, he did so under "one condition": That the Redskins move forward with a "player-centered culture." That's what he built in the NFC South, which All Or Nothing highlighted often, and it's what he'll try to replicate now in the NFC East.

3) His intangibles may be more outstanding than his football acumen

There's no doubting Rivera's football chops. He played in the league for almost a decade and has been on the sidelines for nearly two and a half more. He clearly has a full grasp on what winning football looks like and what it takes to achieve that.

However, the 58-year-old's intangible traits actually stood out more while Amazon's cameras followed him throughout the 2018 campaign. His emotional one-on-one with Devin Funchess was the most obvious example of his revered integrity, but it was consistently apparent in plenty of other ways as well.

In the end, correcting the Redskins and making them relevant again is an objective that will take the collective effort of hundreds of people. For the foreseeable future, though, Rivera will be leading the charge. If you're a fan of the franchise who checks out All Or Nothing, you'll come away feeling really good about that fact.

Links to past reviews:

Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits

Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions

Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron

Episode 4: Young Redskins will have a chance in 2020

Episode 5: Rivera goes off, and you'll want to see it

Episode 6: Watch this example of the coach's integrity

Episode 7: Thomas Davis shows his value

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Take Chase Young or trade for more picks: The Redskins draft paradox

Take Chase Young or trade for more picks: The Redskins draft paradox

Many NFL experts rank Chase Young as not just the best defensive prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the best prospect overall. The Ohio State pass rusher logged absurd numbers in 2019, including 16.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in only 12 games. As far as disrupters go, Young is one of the most devastating edge players to emerge in the draft in some time. 

Despite all of that - all of it - some will still make the case that the Redskins best move is to not take Young with the second overall pick. 

The argument isn't what Young can do, because it's explosive, but what trading the No. 2 spot could do for the Redskins. 

A report from CBS Sports showed that there is growing consideration by the Washington brass about looking to trade back in the draft and securing more picks, particularly in the first round. The most plausible trade candidate is Miami, a team loaded with draft capital that includes three first-rounders. 

The real question is simple: Do the Redskins need one great player or a bunch of good players?

Washington went 3-13 last year and fired most of their organization. Ron Rivera took over to start this year, and he's at the helm of a full reboot of the club, culturally and on the football field. 

While some fans exist in a delusional space that believes the Redskins are loaded with talent, the reality is the roster has more holes than a Par 3 golf course.

Cornerback. Tight end. Left tackle. Free safety. Middle linebacker. Wide receiver.

The Redskins have needs at all those positions, some of varying importance, but all still rank as needs. Even with some moves in free agency to address the holes, many of the new players are on one-year contracts and don't look like a part of a long-term rebuild. 

If Washington can trade back, they can almost undoubtedly help their team more than by taking Young. If they hit on every pick. And if Young isn't the next Von Miller. 

Hypothetically, if the Redskins moved back from No. 2 to No. 5 and gained an additional first-round pick, the team could realistically land Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah or Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, and then add a top-flight left tackle, linebacker or wideout. That would nail down two starting spots in 2020, and if things break right, for the next four seasons as well. All on a team-friendly rookie contract. 

On the other hand - Young. 

Nothing makes a secondary better than a dominant pass rusher. Nothing. Young has all the tools to be that guy, speed and power. If Young plays like many expect, his impact could be worth more than any trade for additional draft picks. 

The problem for Washington is there is no way to know, but it's quite obvious the team needs lots of help. 

"We need playmakers," one Redskins decision maker said to NBC Sports Washington during the NFL Scouting Combine. 

He was telling the truth, and everyone knows it. One problem in this debate, however, is that to trade down the Redskins need a trade partner. 

For more than a year the Dolphins have been rumored to want Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, and for Washington's sake, that could be excellent news. The Redskins need a QB-desperate team, and the two best options appear to be Miami and the Chargers. The Raiders could make things interesting, and as the draft inches closer there will always be more teams that get connected with quarterback prospects. It's not just Tagovailoa either as Oregon QB Justin Herbert looks like a Top-10 pick as well. 

Between Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen, the Redskins appear set at the quarterback spot. Both are young and under team control, and both have shown flashes of real potential. Haskins has the driver's seat on the starting job, but Allen will push. 

Considering that, the more teams get hot and heavy in pursuit or a rookie passer - Tua or Herbert - helps Washington. The only way to guarantee selecting one of those QBs comes with the second pick. 

It's no sure thing a trade partner emerges.

It's entirely possible the Dolphins and Chargers can just wait and grab quarterbacks with their picks at 5 and 6, respectively. Joe Burrow will go No. 1 to the Bengals. Write that in permanent marker. After that comes Washington, Detroit, and the Giants. None of those teams need a quarterback.

If the Dolphins and Chargers can wait, they could get their rookie passer without giving anything up. But like Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part. Other teams could jump up and grab Tua or Herbert, and expect those rumors to ramp up as the draft comes closer. 

So, for the Redskins, is it about the team or the player. Young is the player. That's not for debate. But the team needs help, lots of it, and a trade might bring more in return. 

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