By Zach Walker
Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins
Sunday – October 21 – 3:25 p.m.
FedEx Field – Landover, MD
Records Before the Game
Dallas Cowboys (3-3, 0-3 Away)
Washington Redskins (3-2, 2-1 Home)
That moment when the doors open and the crowd pours through, think of the most outrageous Black Friday. That’s WAY understating the sudden surge of offensive production. The inverse of the Great Depression is what was witnessed against a very sound Jaguars team. Those Jags experienced both barrels of the Patrick Mahomes the week previous, then ran into… the Cowboys? The Dallas offense appeared to finally unclog the piping and let the offense flow. Dak Prescott commanded the field, kept the bad plays to a couple of self-recovered fumbles, and diced the Jacksonville secondary with the crisp route work of Cole Beasley. The offensive line did a strong job of keeping Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler, and Malik Jackson at bay, though Yannick Ngakoue had a pair, but he’s the Jaguars’ premier pass rusher.
The Cowboys are going to be rolling into enemy territory with almost a clean bill of health. Apart from missing receiver Tavon Austin, the Cowboys look to have their entire defensive front healthy and playing. Sean Lee, Maliek Collins, DeMarcus Lawrence, the whole ball of wax. Chidobe Awuzie will likely be game-time sit-or-play, but even then, the Cowboys WILL be entering the game on Sunday afternoon with the healthier team. Washington will not have Jamison Crowder, and besides him, it seems like each of their skill position guys have some form of leaking tire coming into the game, except for the tight ends. Jordan Reed has given the Cowboys big time headaches and heartaches in the past, and with the new trigger-man at quarterback, who tends to put the ball into high-percentage places, that is the key matchup for the Cowboys, containing Jordan Reed. Their second tight end Vernon Davis should give the rookie Vander Esch a pretty good lesson in NFL tight end speed too, so that’ll be a very entertaining watch, as well. With Alex Smith, the option to pull-down and pick up the yards yielded is always present, but if anyone out there has watched tape on Jaylon Smith, they’ll know that he is possibly THE best at hitting quarterbacks in legal positions, in the open field, in the NFL, and I don’t believe that that is too much of a stretch to say, given that Deshaun Watson is probably still feeling that Sunday night game and the immortalized GIF of Smith absolutely rocking Eli Manning. So, Jaylon Smith is going to have to keep a mind’s eye on Alex Smith at all times.
The Cowboys on offense looked impressive against the Jags, but no one can say that they believe that the Cowboys will build off of what they displayed a week ago. The Cowboys seem to take the previous game, dissect it, and in a display of pride (?) destroy the best parts and start completely fresh as if they’re relearning how to walk. Will Dak be designed to run the way he did? Can the Cowboys attack the Washington injured secondary without the monster that is Tavon Austin? We should all expect to do a lot of living room yelling between 3:30 and 6:30PM on Sunday, because it’s certainly going to be frustrating.
The Cowboys, in this game, must decide what team they’re going to be. If they lose, they skid backwards into the bye-week at a truly disappointing 3-4 record, having given Washington a game in hand. If they win, they exorcise the road-woes demon, go on to 2-0 inside the division, 4-3 on the year, into the bye-week looking forward to a Monday night game against the Tennessee Titans when they get back to football. Those are two TOTALLY different paths, with totally different perspectives on the remainder of the season ahead. This game is big time.