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Grade the Redskins Win Over the Cowboys

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Third-string QB? No Orakpo, Cofield, or Hall? Rookie Head Coach? Starting two rookies? In Dallas? Against our arch rivals? Who were 6-1? When nobody picked us? No problem.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins traveled to Jerry World on Monday night and pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of this NFL season in primetime!  It was a thing of beauty...  The speculation about whether RGIII would make his return lasted all week and culminated in another absence from our starting QB.  It wasn't an issue.  Colt McCoy, our third-string QB who many wondered whether he should even be on the roster, made his first start since 2011 and played far better than just about anyone would have expected given the circumstances.  Obviously, games like this don't come around very often.  This is one of those rare games that creates fans.  It's the reason we watch.  We hope for one like this every season or two and when we get it, it's that thrill that keeps us coming back.  Even though we were coming off of a victory, it wasn't convincing and it came against a pretty bad team.  Most had given up on our season already.  There was talk of trying for a better draft pick.  I even saw some mock drafts already.  It was getting bleak and our fans were jumping off the ship right and left.

Monday night was a life vest.  It was the kind of game that can define a season.  It was also one that can turn it around.  We've now won as many games as we did all of last year.  We're a few plays away from being a 4-4 team!  We just knocked off a team that many said was the best in the NFC.  I like what Allen and Gruden are building here.  With a two-game winning streak, it seems it's starting to take shape.  We're progressing.

Pros:

Colt McCoy

The man just set the new all-time Redskins record for completion percentage by a QB with 30+ attempts!  He hadn't played in a couple years.  He had about one week worth of snaps with just about every player on the offense that he'd play with against the Cowboys.  He made a mistake and bounced right back.  Sure some of his passes were off.  Yeah, he didn't lead DeSean Jackson on a couple plays far enough.  So what?!  He completed 83.3% of his passes (25/30) threw for 300 yards and RAN FOR A TD!  This guy did it all.  His mobility really gave us a taste of what can be done when RGIII comes back, too.  It was a blessed day for Colt McCoy to start on such a grand stage in Texas of all states and go get a win like that.  He probably just made a few million dollars that game and who knows what his future holds now.  What an exciting time for Colt!

Coaching (Jay Gruden and Jim Haslett)

Let's start with Gruden.  I think this guy is the real deal.  Look at what he's done.  What a great move going with McCoy.  It was smart putting him in last week and it was smart starting him this week.  He's managing RGIII's recovery well/correctly.  He also did the right thing by starting Tom Compton over Tyler Polumbus.  Many had seen it coming for a good long while now, but he did it and it mattered.  He also showed an excellent balance with his play-calling, something he'd been criticized for in the past.  Our running game improved and the play calls were on point all game.

And then there's Jim Haslett.  Oh yes, the much maligned Jim Haslett...  Take your hat off to the guy.  He coached one of the more brilliant defensive gameplans most any of us have ever seen.  He's missing three starters from an already substandard defense!  He's relying on a rookie to face off against one of the top three WR's in the game!  He showed aggressiveness and took risks.  And it worked!  Haslett's not perfect, but he gets entirely too much hate around here.  He found ways to bring pressure and keep Romo off-balance, and on his ass, all night.  We were getting sacks, turnovers, and our corners were playing with near perfect technique.  Holding a team with an OL like that to 17 points after OT is nothing short of incredible.  He recognized that that OL is young and inexperienced though and he exploited that with wild blitzes and confusion that only a veteran could be prepared for.  A+ to Haslett.

DeSean Jackson

It's official.  That man cannot be covered.  It's simply impossible.  There's no one faster.  No QB can out-throw the guy.  It's just flat out remarkable.  Anyone who questions the quality of acquisition he has been needs to get their head checked out.  He's been worth every penny and will hopefully be a Redskin for a good long while.  He has excellent hands, runs good routes, and can take just about any ball to the house.  He's proven his ability to make difficult catches along the sidelines and the speed to take short slant routes for huge gains.  I don't want to imagine where we'd be without him.  Defenses better start paying attention of this guy is going to have the best year of his life.  He's on pace for: 64 catches, 1,328 yards, and 6 TD's.

Jordan Reed

If I have to read, "I don't know... I think Reed is just too injury-prone.  I think it's about time to move on," one more time I'm going to personally ban whoever writes it (not really).  But seriously, it's a ridiculous notion.  This guy has more talent than just about any TE this side of Jimmy Graham.  That catch on the sideline near the end of the game?!  He's unreal.  He catches everything.  He's a joy to watch after the catch.  His route running is a clinic.  He's what we need and he ain't going anywhere.

Tom Compton

Basically this is just for not being Tyler Polumbus (I'm sorry, Tyler).  Compton played pretty well at RT and was a noticeable upgrade.  Here's to hoping he can develop further.

Ryan Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan showed that he can produce without Orakpo on the other side.  In fact, he showed he can produce with a rookie making his first start on the other side.  Kerrigan is the real deal.  He got another sack and is just relentless.  He's #4 in the league in sacks and on pace for a career-best 15!

Keenan Robinson

I'd like to second Mark Tyler's nomination for Robinson in the Pro Bowl.  The guy doesn't miss tackles.  It's incredible.  What a gem.  Here he is, a fourth-round selection sitting behind London Fletcher and getting injured multiple years in a row.  His career was in doubt before it even got started.  And now he's stepped in as a glorified rookie and he's running the defense and balling out at an insane level.  He's a natural.  He's a true Redskin and proved that after sacking/injuring Romo.  He can cover, doesn't miss tackles in the run game, and apparently can get sacks, too.  Pro Bowl.

The Entire Secondary (especially Meriweather, Breeland, and Amerson)

This was the best game by the Washington Redskins secondary in years.  I mean it.  Meriweather had the game of his career.  In case y'all didn't already know: 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FF, and 1 FR.  That's unheard of (unless you're J.J. Watt and even then, pretty rare).  Haslett's used him perfectly and Meriweather showed why he's been a Pro Bowler in the past.  When he plays under control and in the box, he's incredibly talented/skilled.

David Amerson has gotten so good that teams don't really throw to him anymore.  It seems they'd much rather test the rookie (more on that in a minute).  Amerson has size, length, and has surprised with his great tackling ability/run support.  When a receiver catches the ball in his area, I have complete confidence that he's going down upon first contact with Amerson.  This was not something he was known for in college.  He's... dare I say it... developing...?  Under Haslett and Morris? 

And then there's Breeland.  Bashaud Breeland was the player of the game/MVP.  He was tested repeatedly.  He made a mistake or two.  I don't care.  This guy made play... after play... after play... after play.  The Cowboys tried to test him repeatedly by throwing his way (to Dez Bryant) and Breeland came up with the play almost every time.  It was crazy to watch!  I mean, he was owning Bryant.  I would have been surprised to see DeAngelo Hall or any other great CB do that well.  And this guy is a fourth-round rookie!  I'm thinking we hit the jackpot with that pick.  He also stripped the ball and forced a fumble.  This after getting his first INT last week.  He's a play maker.  My game ball goes to him (and a little to Meriweather, too).

Kai Forbath

Special Teams Player of the Week!  The guy is money!  He's booting KO's into the end-zone regularly.  He's hitting 93% of his FG's this year (only missed one)!  That's unheard of.  He won the game for us in OT and has been as reliable as they come when we've needed him.  We have a great Kicker!

Special Teams

The whole unit.  Kotwica has been getting this unit to perform better and better as the weeks have gone.  Roberts is doing a great job on returns, he's getting blocks down the field (huge 37-yard return on Monday night... huge), and we're covering very well on kicks.  Dwayne Harris (Cowboys return man) killed us last year.  Absolutely killed us.  And Kotwica and co. basically bottled him up.  Tress Way has been on point all year and I just have to say, this entire unit is turning around dramatically.  Special Teams could be becoming a strength...

Turnovers

We turned it over only one time!  If we can hold the turnovers to one a game, we'll win a lot of games.  We also created two turnovers (and they fumbled two other times but recovered them).  Turnover ratio is one of the best predictors in winning any football game and anytime we win that battle, our chances are greatly improved.  We did that against Dallas.  It's a testament to good coaching and focus from the players.

Cons

Chris Chester

I don't like to call individual players out, but honestly, he's about the only negative from the game.  He was noticeably terrible.  Some guys will go back and watch the film and study who messed up what.  You don't have to do that.  Any casual fan noticed Chester.  That's a bad thing.  Whenever someone not hardly paying attention can notice an individual OL, something is terribly wrong.  I've been saying how Chester has been OK all year and didn't really need to be replaced.  Now I don't know.  That was one of the worst performances I've ever seen by any OL ever.  It was terrible.

Run Defense

It's a minor gripe as Murray/the Cowboys OL has been doing this to everyone all year, but he went off in a major way.  I'm sure we were focused on their run game coming in and they still did it to us.  Have to iron that out.  Still, it was good enough to win.

Pass Rush When Not Blitzing

We've got to find a way to get pressure while only sending four.  Murphy will improve.  The Cowboys OL is tough.  I expect it to get better.

Final Grade: A

What other grade could you give this game.  It would have been nice to see our offense score more, but we were starting third-stringer Colt McCoy!  I refuse to be upset about 20 points against a good team on the road with that kind of situation going on at QB.  The defense and ST's were both absolutely outstanding.  The coaching staff was on point and the players executed extremely well.

We had this game from start to finish.  It was shocking!  We didn't beat ourselves and the Cowboys didn't give us the game, either.  It's truly something to be very proud of for all the players and coaches.  The Cowboys are a good team.  I hate writing that and I hate more that it's true.  They still are, even after the loss.  Hats off to them.  But this game is about the Redskins.  We showed the world what we're capable of.  This team has what it takes.  We just have to become more consistent now.  That's the next goal.  We've proven we can win.  We've proven we can beat a good team.  Now we have to do it consistently and not play up or down to competition.  This Vikings game will be a great test.  Their defense is good, it's in their place, and both teams are 3-5.  That's right, we're still 3-5.  It was a great game against Dallas, but it was just that, one game.  We have to prove that we can come off of a big win and not have a letdown or overlook an opponent.  We're not good enough to do that.  We need to go out and get a W against Minnesota to prove that this team is legit and that the win over Dallas wasn't just dumb luck.  We'll all be tuned in.