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The 5 O’Clock Club: Ready for the Cowboys?

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Washington Redskins v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

The Dallas Cowboys site, Blogging the Boys, wrote a surprisingly balanced preview article about the upcoming game. I’d like to recognize the author, David Howman, for his balanced preview. I’ve thrown in some commentary on his writing and analysis below. While my comments may indicate that I take issue with Howman’s writing, nothing could be further from the truth. I thought his preview article was well-written and balanced. What follows is my usual effort to provide some discussion points for readers who wake at the crack of dawn and want a dose of NFL to start their Saturday off right.

The final five paragraphs of his article are reprinted here with commentary from me scattered throughout.

As it stands, the ‘Skins will be without Allen for sure and most likely without Guice, who is dealing with a knee injury.

Both players are, in fact, out for the game, as Allen’s status was confirmed late in the week. Of course, we got an update on Thursday saying that Guice had surgery on his meniscus and would be out indefinitely.

Also out: Brantley (IR), Reed (concussion)

Doubtful: Moreau

Questionable: Dunbar

Aaron Colvin - released earlier this week from the Texans - will likely be active for the Redskins at CB.

To field five healthy defensive linemen, the Redskins will have to have Teyvon Hester (signed from Eagles prior to Week 1) and TY McGill (5th year journeyman who played with Eagles & Rams last year) both active.

This puts stress on the Redskins’ interior defensive line, meaning potentially weaker run defense (against Zeke Elliott) and weaker interior pass rush (against Dak Prescott).

It also signals potential issues in pass coverage against Cooper, Gallup & Cobb.

That means that 34-year-old Adrian Peterson will get the start, returning to the field after being inactive last week due to an apparent falling out with head coach Jay Gruden.

I’m not sure that there was any “falling out”. The news gets a little garbled, I guess, when it is transmitted by telegraph wire all the way to Dallas. Jay was very clear that this was simply a ‘numbers issue’ related to special teams play. Pay no attention at all to rumors that Jay wanted to cut Peterson from the roster, and that other players were upset about the decision to deactivate the future Hall of Famer in week 1.

Everything is fine.

Really.

Jay said so.

“We’ve talked, he’s in a good place. Nobody is happy if you’re the backup or not dressing, but you are on the team and when your number is called, you roll. Adrian [Peterson] is a pro and I feel very good if his number is called this week he’ll be ready to go and play very hard. He’ll be Adrian Peterson.”

Personally, I’m not worried at all about AD.

Nevertheless, the future Hall of Famer will be called upon to stabilize the ground game in hopes that Keenum, who attempted 44 passes against Philadelphia, won’t have to shoulder as much of the load.

When Washington hosted the Cowboys last year, Peterson put up 99 rushing yards on 24 carries but was held scoreless, and he helped pace an offense that put up just 13 points. This matchup should help the Cowboys defense rebound after giving up 120 yards on just 11 carries last week. The fact that Peterson will be making his season debut may also help if there’s any rust to be shaken off.

I’m not quite sure what he’s saying here; is he trying to suggest that the Cowboys defense will find it easy to corral AD?

If so, I think the ‘Boys may be in for a surprise.

The more real threat on offense, though, is Keenum. Considered to be merely a stopgap player until rookie Dwayne Haskins is ready to take over, Keenum put on a show on Sunday, though most of it came in the first half. He threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers and finished with an impressive 117.6 passer rating. Most of his throws went the way of rookie wideout Terry McLaurin and running back Chris Thompson, players that Dallas will have to clamp down on to limit Keenum.

Wow! Who woulda thunk it?! Case Keenum is described as the “real threat” on offense while Adrian Peterson is dismissed as offering a “get well” game for the Dallas defense. What’s next? The dead rising from the grave? Human sacrifice? Dogs and cats living together? mass hysteria?!

For the Cowboys’ offense, it should be another opportunity for Dak Prescott to show off his comfort in Kellen Moore’s offense. The Washington defense got gashed by the Eagles, especially in the second half, giving up 312 total yards of offense after halftime. That included surrendering 116 total rushing yards to three different running backs. They only managed one sack all game and it went for no loss of yards.

I can’t disagree with anything here, though after watching the Giants-Cowboys game, I’d suggest that a lot of Dak’s “comfort in Kellen Moore’s offense” had a lot to do with the complete lack of a pass rush from the NY Giants, who were among the league’s worst in rushing the QB last year before they shipped away their best (only) pass rusher. The task of keeping Dak comfortable should be significantly more challenging against the Redskins, who were a top-tier defense a year ago when it came to QB sacks.

That said, Week 1 did not provide a lot of evidence to indicate that the Redskins can put pressure on a passer. The Redskins did not play “complementary football” after jumping to a 17 point lead on the Eagles. The offense couldn’t sustain drives, and with defensive injuries, the Redskins players on that side of the ball seemed to wear down as the game progressed.

The offense has to share a lot of blame for this, as they left the defense on the field again and again from the middle of the second quarter onward. The overthrow to McLaurin, followed by the dropped pass by Richardson likely had as much to do with the eventual outcome as any defensive collapse.

Offensive penalties were drive-killers that led to the Redskins offense leaving the field quickly, and sending a limping and tired defense back out to face an Eagles attack that they couldn’t stop. The team has to play better football for 60 minutes this week.

Missing Allen along the defensive line is sure to cause problems, but more than anything the Redskins were a Jekyll and Hyde team last week, while the Cowboys were consistently good all game long. If the first half ‘Skins can show up for a full game, they might be able to get an upset victory with help from the home crowd. If not, this game could go similarly to last week’s effort for both teams.

As mentioned above, the Redskins defense that looked gassed in the second half against Philly looks very thin at both DL and CB against Dallas, but with a healthy AD instead of a hobbled Derrius Guice, Washington may be able to rely on the run game to sustain drives and control the clock, helping the defense more than they could a week ago.

I have to say, I love the “home crowd” comment. Apparently, David hasn’t had a chance to be at FedEx Field for a game recently.

I’m looking for a more consistent performance from the offense and defense this week, and expecting a win to bring the team to 1-1 overall, and 1-1 in the division. The Redskins need this early season division win.

Poll

Which player will be the most important deciding factor in whether the Redskins can beat the Cowboys this week?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Jon Allen
    (16 votes)
  • 32%
    Adrian Peterson
    (94 votes)
  • 32%
    Case Keenum
    (92 votes)
  • 3%
    Terry McLaurin
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Trey Quinn
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Landon Collins & Montae Nicholson
    (14 votes)
  • 9%
    Josh Norman & Quinton Dunbar
    (27 votes)
  • 6%
    Ryan Kerrigan
    (18 votes)
  • 4%
    Somebody else
    (13 votes)
286 votes total Vote Now