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An impossible task for the Redskins next Sunday?

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An impossible task for the Redskins next Sunday?

Do the Redskins face an impossible task on Sunday when they go to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Sunday night?

If you are one of many Redskins fans that settled in on Sunday afternoon to watch the Cowboys take on the Broncos you might think so. Although Dallas ultimately lost to Peyton Manning and company they put on quite an offensive show in the process. Tony Romo completed almost 70 percent of his passes and gained just over 14 yards per pass attempt. He set a Cowboys record with 506 yards passing and he threw for five touchdowns.

Yes, Romo did throw an interception that ultimately led to a game-winning field goal with no time left. But they were only in that position because the Dallas defense couldn’t stop Manning, who had quite a game himself (414 yards, 4 TD’s).

Now the Redskins come into Big D and they are decidedly not the ’13 Broncos. They aren’t even the 2012 Redskins through their first four games. With Robert Griffin III still working to get back to form after his knee injury their offense isn’t what it was. If you take away 21 points scored by the defense Washington has just 10 first-half points all year. That won’t cut it against the Cowboys if they play like they did on Sunday. They put up 20 in the first half yesterday and 48 for the game.

They key question is, will they play against the Redskins like they played yesterday? That is one of a few factors that should give Redskins fans some hope and reason to watch on Sunday.

—Which Cowboys offense will show up? Eight days ago against the Chargers they did not resemble the fearsome juggernaut they were against Denver. Dallas scored 14 points in the first 17 minutes of play and then they were shut out the rest of the way. They lost 30-21, getting a TD on an interception return by linebacker Sean Lee. The San Diego defense, by the way, is not very good. They were ranked 27th in the NFL prior to their late-night loss to the Raiders.

—Since Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett came to town, the Redskins have had pretty solid success against Romo. In five games against the Romo-led Cowboys (he missed one 2010 meeting with an injury) the Redskins have allowed over 20 points just twice. One of those came last Thanksgiving when the Redskins played soft in the second half to protect a 28-3 halftime lead. Since 2010 with Romo playing, the Cowboys have averaged 20 points per game against the Redskins and almost 25 per game in all of their other contests. Washington is 3-2 vs. Romo in that time.

—Regardless of how well the defense manages to contain Romo, Dez Bryant, and company, the offense is going to have to do better if the Redskins are going stay in the game. The good news is that the Washington offense has shown signs of life against the Lions and Raiders and the Dallas defense, Peyton Manning not, looked pretty bad. Griffin is not all the way back to his 2012 form but he’s getting better each week. They won’t be able to put up 51 points like the Broncos did but if they can avoid killer mistakes they could score enough to keep the pressure on the Cowboys.

The Redskins will be underdogs in this game and I’m not sure if I’m going to pick them to win. But to look at this game like it’s some sort of impossible task is off base if you look at the big picture, beyond what has transpired in the past 24 hours.

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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