It’s do or die time on the Dallas Cowboys in December once again. And they have to beat the Washington Redskins to stay alive in the NFC East race.
Now personally, I’d like to know they aren’t making the Playoffs after Week 16, because I can’t stand these high pressure situations every year in December. However, losing to the Washington Redskins would leave a bad taste in my mouth.
So let’s look at the keys to victory for the Cowboys to beat the Redskins.
Key #1: Run the Football!
For whatever reason, the Dallas Cowboys continue to give up on the running game when they have a lot of success. They are getting too cute with their play calling. Giving Tony Romo the option to throw when there’s eight in the box is a bad idea. I could care less if there is eight in the box Romo, run the football. It’s nice to put up 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, but after that, run the football and run down the clock to end the game. Stop giving Romo an excuse to throw the football, and you will see an improvement in the win column.
Key #2: Run the Football! Some more.
This Redskins’ offense is operating more efficiently under Kirk Cousins. A massive day can be had by Cousins against the Dallas defense. So keeping the ball away from Cousins is one of the best ways to beat the Redskins. Beat patient on defense to get turnovers on Cousins, but the Cowboys need to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That can’t happen if you pass on every down. This is DeMarco Murray’s time to get 20+ carries, or the Cowboys could miss the Playoffs, because they can’t stop this horrible trend of not running the football.
Key #3: Bombs away on the Redskins secondary
The only thing worse than the Cowboys’ pass defense is the Redskins’ pass defense. They have inexperience at cornerback and the safety position. On top of inept veteran corners. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten should have no excuse in not putting up massive numbers against this secondary. Now a balanced approach needs to be taken in this game. And this secondary gets sucked up with play action a lot. Establish the run and Romo can hit huge plays on play action.
That should be the game plan, but this will probably be another 50-60+ passing attempt game, despite the fact that running football on the Redskins will provide a better path to a decisive victory.
Key #4: Stop Alfred Morris
The only consistent threat on the Redskins is Alfred Morris. He’s a little banged up, but he can take over football games if you’re not careful. Especially the Cowboys’ defense. I have no clue how to make the Dallas defense better, because it’s a mixture of the players and the scheme, but they have to find a way to stop Morris. Getting those first 3 and outs against Washington by stuffing the run will pay dividends as the game unfolds. Otherwise the Redskins will march down the field with ease in all four quarters.
Key #5: Find a way to pressure Kirk Cousins with blitzes
This is the opposite of how a Tampa 2 defense operates, but Cousins doesn’t like pressure. Especially pressure created by blitzes. If we could go back in time and re-hire Rob Ryan, this could be accomplished. But that’s not going to happen. However, getting pressure at all costs is the key to getting Cousins out of a rhythm. DeMarcus Ware needs to put his production where his mouth is. We need Ware to have a big game.
Those are my five keys to beating the Washington Redskins. I’m not going to lie, this game makes me very nervous. Kirk Cousins is a very good quarterback, but the Cowboys are the more talented team in this match up.
But I want to know what you think. What is it going to take for the Cowboys to beat the Redskins?
James Cobern is a Division Leader and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @Jmcobern1