The Washington Redskins have an incredible opportunity Monday night to solidify themselves atop the NFC East. They're playing the Dallas Cowboys. A win and the Redskins remain in control of their destiny and a playoff berth looks that much more likely. A loss and the Redskins fall to 5-7... and possibly out of first place.
Thus, we continue our weekly Q&A with a blogger from the Redskins upcoming opponent. David Halprin of Blogging the Boys answers our questions this week.
1. Tony Romo's an injured, 35-year-old man. What's his future look like as a Cowboy? Are we going to be seeing Johnny Manziel or RGIII as the Cowboys starter at QB in a year or two? What's the general consensus amongst fans on what they think the position will look like moving forward and what they want the position to look like moving forward?
The Cowboys, realistically, are looking at two or three more good years from Tony Romo. These latest collar bone breaks will heal and he should have no long-term issues going forward. It's not like a neck injury, or concussions, or more back damage; those types of things can take players out of the game. So the expectation is that he will be healthy and should still be the Cowboys leader for a few more seasons. The salary cap numbers back that up. Last year, Romo had a statistically phenomenal year and the Cowboys were 12-4. Romo is 15-4 over the last 19 games he's started including 3-1 this year. But Dallas does need to start thinking about the future. They need to start grooming a replacement. I don't think you can put your finger on who that will be yet, the draft in the offseason will play a large role in it, as well as some of the potential free agents you mentioned.
2. Could you give us a little insight into Dez Bryant's injury situation this year? I recently read that he actually completed his first full practice this week since before his toe injury, but it feels like he's been playing in games for a couple of weeks now. What exactly was the injury and how has he been playing recently? Is he fully healthy for this game on Monday?
Dez Bryant broke his fifth metatarsal in the first game of the season, he had a screw implanted and came back for the Cowboys game against the Seahawks on Nov. 1. He hasn't been his regular self since he's gotten back. His numbers are down and everyone admits he's still trying to get back to his old self. It could happen any week, but with Tony Romo out, it will be tougher for Dez to break out.
3. What are the biggest holes/weaknesses in/on the Cowboys roster? What areas should the Redskins look to exploit on Monday night? Are those the same areas that fans want the Cowboys to focus on in the upcoming off-season? Any ideas/desires for how they should go about shoring up those spots for next year?
I'd say this season has made clear that the Cowboys biggest weakness is at backup quarterback. I don't think anybody expected the combo of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel to go 0-7. We thought they could at least get a couple of wins, especially with Cassel who has had some decent seasons in the NFL. So one thing you do to the Cowboys is force the quarterback to beat you. The Cowboys defense has also failed to generate turnovers, something that has doomed this defense even though they have played well for long stretches. They just can't get the big splash plays they need on defense. Also, special teams has not produced the big play, either. So don't give the Cowboys help in those areas. The Cowboys will need to address backup QB and their defensive pressure in the offseason. They will probably like to address the running back position, they could use a young upgrade there.
4. How do fans feel about the job HC Jason Garrett has been doing? What have been his strengths and weaknesses this year and what do fans anticipate his future as a Cowboy looks like?
I don't think that Jason Garrett has done a great job of coaching this year, but I still think he's the right guy for the Cowboys. This season, once Bryant and Romo were out, I thought he needed to gamble more - go for more fourth downs, fake a punt or FG, just be more aggressive in his thinking. Instead the Cowboys became more conservative initially, trying to keep it close and hang on in the end. The problem was they collapsed in the fourth quarter over and over. Without Romo and Bryant this team was going to struggle. I'd like to believe that 2014 was more representative of the Cowboys under Jason Garrett, I'm willing to go for a couple more seasons to see where he takes us.
5. Why can the Cowboys win this game?
Because they've been in just about every game they've played this year, only to lose it late in the fourth quarter or in overtime. It's not like they haven't been competing through this brutal stretch, games were there to be won they just haven't been able to grasp them. You'd think they might start getting some bounces going their way, they are talented enough to win, maybe they can finally get one or two plays late in the game to seal the deal.
BONUS: How would you attack the Cowboys (both offensively and defensively) if you were the Redskins?
Don't let the Cowboys offense run the ball. Make Matt Cassel beat you. For the Cowboys defense, don't gift them anything. Play smart with the ball, run it and hit your quick passes.
Many thanks to David for his insight.