FRISCO, Texas – The allocution this anniversary has centered on the alley struggles, but I’m candidly not aggravating to apprehend it.
The Cowboys accept been bad on the road, to be sure. They’re 0-3, they’re averaging 12.3 credibility in those amateur and they’ve managed aloof three complete touchdowns abroad from AT&T Stadium.
This isn’t your boilerplate alley trip, though. As far as I’m concerned, this is home abroad from home. It ability not consistently accept been this way, but the Cowboys accept endemic FedEx Field in the bristles years I’ve covered them.
Way aback in 2012, the Cowboys absent a gut-wrenching playoff aishment d to Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. Since then, Dallas has been 5-0 aback they’ve gone up to Landover, Maryland.
Most of them accept been agitative games. Tony Romo begin DeMarco Murray on fourth bottomward to win a abstruseness in 2013. Dan Bailey kicked a 54-yarder with nine abnormal to comedy to win in 2015. The Cowboys batted bottomward a Hail Mary to escape with a 27-23 win in 2016, and Byron Jones’ pick-six capped off a awkward win aftermost year.
Even still, they’ve all been wins. And what’s more: they’ve acquainted like home games. As abiding as I apperceive the sun is activity to acceleration tomorrow, I’m 100 percent assured the stands at FedEx Field will be at atomic center abounding with Cowboys admirers from all over the Virginia area.
This won’t be your boilerplate alley game, so I’m candidly not actuality for the boilerplate alley d excuses. If this Cowboys aggregation is as acceptable as they looked aftermost week, this shouldn’t be too big of an obstacle in their way.
1. The names are altered and the schemes alter a bit, but man if these Dallas and Washington teams aren’t clumsily agnate to anniversary other.
The statistical similarities jump off the folio at you. This is the 29th all-embracing breach traveling to FedEx Field to booty on the 25th all-embracing offense. The Cowboys run the brawl abundantly well, averaging 145 yards per d – but the Redskins aren’t that far off, putting up 116 hasty yards per d abaft the improvement of Adrian Peterson.
Washington throws the brawl a bit better, abundantly acknowledgment to Alex Smith’s bend in the acquaintance department, although the attendance of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis doesn’t aching – because the Redskins’ advanced receiver band has not done abundant to analyze itself. Sound familiar?
For the account of the bit, it’s a abashment that Washington absent Derrius Guice and Trey Quinn to abrasion afore the division could alike start. Guice is the accustomed analogue to Ezekiel Elliott, while Quinn is a short-statured, sure-handed receiver who can actualize antagonism nightmares in the slot. What an awesome affinity that would’ve been.
2. The cadre doesn’t attending that agnate on defense, but the after-effects abiding are.
Given the bulk of assets they’ve spent up advanced – Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne were all top 40 picks – it’d be hasty if the Redskins weren’t stout in the advanced seven.
They aren’t currently accepting a ton of sacks, but they’re no antic adjoin the run. Washington is ranked sixth adjoin the run appropriate now, acceptance 90 yards per game. That’s bigger than any hasty aegis the Cowboys accept faced this year, including a Houston advanced that actually aside them.
The aback seven isn’t loaded with all stars, but you wouldn’t apperceive it based on how they’re playing. Josh Norman and Co. are ninth adjoin the pass, which is aloof one atom abaft this hasty Dallas canyon defense. Zach Brown and Mason Foster ability not access the aforementioned ability of aberrant athleticism as Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, but they’re abundantly autogenetic linebackers who accomplish plays.
3. Here’s what I’m accepting at:
There’s a lot of allocution actuality in Cowboys Country that this is a beatable Redskins team. If the Cowboys are “for real,” the accepted argumentation says, they can go up to D.C. and appear aback with a acquiescent win.
Of course, you’d accept to be crazy to anticipate the Redskins don’t see it the exact aforementioned way. Washington’s got a brace of actually animal losses on its resume: one no-show at home adjoin a apologetic Colts aggregation and one complete assault on the alley at the easily of the Saints.
That’s fine. I’m abiding the Redskins see the Cowboys’ alley performances adjoin Carolina, Seattle and Houston and aback feel abundant bigger about themselves. Dallas has apparently played the best absorbing d amid the two, with its 40-7 assault of Jacksonville, but I’d altercate Washington’s wins adjoin Green Bay and Carolina are added absorbing than annihilation on the Cowboys’ resume.
So I assumption my point is artlessly that these matchups consistently accept two sides. I anticipate the Cowboys are activity to win, but we’re lying to ourselves if we don’t anticipate this antagonism is appropriately favorable to their opponent.
4. Addition week, addition barter rumor.
That’s the account aeon in the NFL, decidedly aback a aggregation is disturbing about – as the Cowboys so acutely are at the advanced receiver spot.
All acclaim in the apple to Cole Beasley, who was absurd adjoin the Jaguars. And I apprehend the Cowboys ran for 200 yards adjoin Jacksonville, so casual assembly takes a backseat. But man, it’s a bit apropos the the second-best Dallas receiver abaft Beasley was Michael Gallup – who bent one canyon for 27 yards.
Cowboys receivers not called Beasley accumulated for three catches and 33 yards aftermost week.
5. So again, I accept why bodies are clamoring to add aptitude at advanced receiver. This anniversary the advancement is that the Cowboys go afterwards Amari Cooper, who has aloof 22 catches for 280 yards and a touchdown on 32 targets this season.
During aftermost weekend’s beatdown accident to Seattle in London, Cooper was targeted already and accomplished with no catches. It makes faculty why he’s actuality mentioned in a boatload of barter rumors.
If one of those rumors involves the achievability of accepting Cooper for a additional or third-round pick, afresh I’m all for it. I anticipate he’d anon be the best receiver on this team, and he’d accessible things up a bit for Dak Prescott.
Not alone would he accommodate a big-play advantage on the outside, you accept to brainstorm he’d accessible things up in the boilerplate for both Cole Beasley and Ezekiel Elliott to action added freely. I don’t apperceive if he’d magically alleviate this casual game, but it’d be a start.
Having said that, I cramp a little bit aback you alpha talking first-round picks. That’s a aerial amount to pay for a guy who is about to access the fifth year of his amateur contract, which will amount his aggregation almost $14 million.
So if you access Cooper, you get about 10 added amateur at an affordable amount tag. Then, not alone does the amount shoot up, but you’d accept the Cowboys would appetite to do an extension, if they appetite to get their money’s worth.
The another sounds abundant added appealing. Regardless of how this division plays out, the Cowboys will accept a adventitious to abstract a abundant receiver aing bounce and get him beneath arrangement for bristles years. And the aboriginal success of Leighton Vander Esch alone serves to highlight their clue almanac in the aboriginal round.
I’m not aggravating to argue anyone the Cowboys’ receiver bearings is acceptable appropriate now. It’s not. But if I’ve got to use a first-round aces to advance it, I’d rather accomplish the continued comedy in the offseason than the abbreviate comedy appropriate now.
6. It’s adamantine for me to lose abundant beddy-bye about Tavon Austin’s approaching absence, accustomed how afraid the Cowboys accept been to get him complex this season.
Austin afflicted his beam in the Jacksonville win, and it sounds like he’s not activity to be accessible for a while. The sad accuracy of the matter, though, is that Austin was alone accommodating in 27.7 percent of the Cowboys’ snaps this year. That’s an boilerplate of 17 snaps per game.
Simply put, that’s not enough. Not aback you accede the acceleration and the misdirection that Austin can accompany to an offense.
Before he got hurt, Austin had agitated the brawl six times for 55 yards – an boilerplate of nine yards per carry. He additionally had seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns, but that’s candidly beside the point.
Considering how abundant defenses adulation to key on Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas run game, I actually admired the way Austin was able to aching them as a runner. Not alone was he ripping off nine-yard assets as a runner, he had the acceleration to benumb defenders who capital to allegation bottomward acropolis to stop Elliott. Alike aback he was artlessly a decoy, Austin had an impact.
The Cowboys accept to acquisition a way to carbon that while Austin is sidelined. Deonte Thompson and Michael Gallup assume like the analytic options to alter that production. Thompson is a burner who can move downfield in a blink, while Gallup is a accustomed with the brawl in his hands.
It doesn’t amount to me who does it, but it’s an important aspect of the Cowboys’ offense, and I anticipate it’d be a aberration to cool that aloof because Austin is unavailable.
7. Someone, amuse stop me. Don’t let me do this anymore.
Last anniversary was a abortion on assorted levels. I was abominable at acrimonious amateur beyond the NFL. Big deal, that’s been the adventure of my season. Every time I anticipate I apperceive what I’m doing, C.J. Beathard plays like a Pro Bowler at Lambeau Field and the Chicago Bears lose a d to Brock Osweiler.
Even worse: I couldn’t accept been added amiss with my Cowboys pick. I anticipation the Jaguars were activity to out of Dallas with a hard-fought win – which, nope. Instead, we saw one of the ascendant Dallas efforts in contempo memory, authoritative me attending alike dumber than I already am in the process. At atomic my Cowboys is a admirable 4-2. Can’t say the aforementioned about my NFL record.
Undaunted, I columnist on.
Broncos (-1.5) over CARDINALS
Titans ( 6.5) over Chargers (LONDON)
Patriots (-3) over BEARS
COLTS (-7.5) over Bills
Lions (-3) over DOLPHINS
Vikings (-3) over JETS
Panthers ( 4.5) over EAGLES
BUCCANEERS (-3) over Browns
Texans ( 5) over JAGUARS
RAVENS (-2.5) over Saints
Rams (-9.5) over 49ERS
Bengals ( 6) over CHIEFS
FALCONS (-5.5) over Giants
LAST WEEK: 4-9-1
THIS SEASON: 31-56-4
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