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Redskins vs Cowboys: What We Learned from the Week 12 matchup

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A loss that soured the holiday gathering for many Redskins fans, here is what we took away from the 5th loss of the season for Washington.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins have dropped to 6-5 following their 31-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. For the first time this season, the Redskins have lost two consecutive games. Unfortunately for Washington, their slide is coming at the wrong time of the year. Where the real season starts in November through January, Thursday’s loss was a symbol of a lot of things wrong with the current state of the Redskins, as they have displayed a brief period of good football, but in the end, ugly football proved costly. Here is what we learned from the Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Defensive Slide Continues, is there any hope they will get back on track?

The Redskins defense has been the staple of this team for the majority of the season. Just last week following the Houston loss, we talked about how the Redskins defense was now allowing an average of over 132 yards per game on the ground over the past three weeks. The average following the Cowboys game has now risen to 135.5 yards per game now. No other way around describing the quality of the defense right now, it is drastically regressing. From the front end to the back, the overall tackling has become a concern, the defensive front is not consistently winning their battles, and linebackers are not adequately filling the gaps as required.

On an individual level for the Redskins defense, they have failed to do their jobs, and on any given play there has been one player consistently out of place that has allowed a would-be three to five yard gain to turn into a ten-plus yard gain. There are five games left, how quickly can the Redskins get back on track before the season is lost? D.J. Swearinger had a lot to say about his teammate’s practice habits and lack of preparedness or focus from his perspective, but talk is cheap after a loss. The team needs to stop pointing fingers and get back to playing better; it is that simple.

The 2018 Colt McCoy era got off to a bad start, and the majority of fault lies at head coach Jay Gruden’s feet.

Colt McCoy had a shaky first start against the Cowboys. He threw two touchdowns and three interceptions, one poor decision while driving into Dallas territory trailing by two possessions essentially killed a legitimate chance of getting back into the game. Knowing Colt McCoy has been in his offense for four seasons prior, Jay Gruden got carried away with Colt McCoy being his starting quarterback. The roots of this offense have been the running back position and offensive line, Adrian Peterson has always been the reason behind any offensive success this season, a more experienced quarterback within this system does not change that. The Redskins finished the game with 15 carries by their running backs, and only 12 carries by Peterson. Keep in mind, the Redskins led by four with 24 minutes left to go in the game and trailed by only 11 with 17 minutes left in the game. There was never a need to abandon the run, and Gruden did just that. An unfortunate yet consistent habit that has killed Jay Gruden throughout his tenure in Washington has contributed to losses or poor offensive outings a lot more than people may think. He must do better in the upcoming weeks to stay true to this offense’s identity; otherwise, this team is in trouble.

As far as Colt McCoy, he has a full ten days of preparation, including reps with the players he will play with against their NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles this Monday night. I personally expect a better outcome and performance by both Gruden and McCoy this game. Does this turn into a victory against the Eagles? Hard to say, the defense is still reeling. There will need to be a balance and a team effort to beat the Eagles who are riding high after a great comeback victory against the New York Giants.