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Skins Can Win, But Will They?

Skins Can Win, But Will They?

Can they do it? Yes. Will they do it? Read on.

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

There is really no point in recounting and rehashing the futility that the Redskins have experienced against the Dallas Cowboys in the course of their domination—there’s no other word for it—of the Redskins over the past 15 games. Some games have been close, some have been routs. In some, the Cowboys’ star players have come through in the clutch, in others it’s been obscure players shining in key moments. Sometimes the Redskins have had better talent and/or a better record, sometimes the other guys have. Barry Switzer, Steve Spurrier, Bill Parcells, Marty Schottenheimer, Joe Gibbs, Dave Campo, it hasn’t mattered.

The Dallas Cowboys have been the Washington Redskins’ daddy.

The Dallas Cowboys have owned the Redskins like a rented mule (or something like that).

All that, however, has nothing to do with Monday night’s matchup. It’s not 1999, it’s not 2001, it’s 2005. The game will come down to offense vs. defense, blocking and tackling, strategy, game plans and the like. The past will not matter a whit.

It doesn’t matter they will have the induction ceremony for Dallas Hall of Rings or whatever it is for Aikman, Smith, and Irvin at halftime. That’s something for the fans and the press. If the Dallas players are paying any attention to it whatsoever Parcells will rip them a new one. They’re not going to try to win one for the Triplets, they’re going to try to win one so as not to have to face the Tuna the rest of the week if they lose a division home game.

And, speaking of the Tuna, his eight-game winning streak against Joe Gibbs will buy a gallon of gas if it’s accompanied by about three bucks. It means zilch.

Both teams are adjusting to new schemes and new players. Dallas spent $50 million in bonus money to buy some upgraded defensive talent and have switched to a 3-4 scheme. It was modestly successful in San Diego last week as they allowed almost 300 yards and three touchdowns to the Chargers, who were playing without star tight end Antonio Gates.

For their part, the Redskins have made the seemingly-contradictory moves of installing a big-play passing offense while reinstalling Mark Brunell as the starting quarterback. They racked up a respectable 325 yards but no touchdowns in their season-opening 9-7 win over Chicago.

Neither is an elite team, neither is awful. Overall, these two teams are a lot like the others in the muddled middle of the NFL. They both have some strong points and some weaknesses. The two quarterbacks both are past their primes. Brunell vs. Drew Bledsoe would have been a marquee matchup in 1998; in 2005 it’s misplaced in prime time. Dallas has some older, slower but accomplished receivers, some suspect spots on the offensive line and a questionable secondary with the exception of safety Roy Williams, while their defensive front seven could be very strong. Washington counters with a very good offensive line, some small, speedy receivers whose effectiveness with Brunell throwing the ball is questionable, and a defense that is greater than the sum of its parts although the parts include a stud DT in Cornelius Griffin, a Pro Bowl linebacker in Marcus Washington, a revived Shawn Springs at cornerback and a potential superstar in safety Sean Taylor.

The game is a coin flip and it could well come down to which running back performs better. Clinton Portis is more the proven commodity, with over 4,000 rushing yards to his credit in three NFL seasons. And, after holding Chicago’s Thomas Jones to 31 yards on 15 carries last week, the Redskins will try their luck against his younger brother Julius. Last year their luck was pretty good.

Jones’ 57 yards rushing (in 22 attempts) in the teams’ second meeting last year was by far his lowest output of the nine games he participated in. In the other eight games he played in during his injury-shortened rookie campaign he never gained fewer than 80 yards. And don’t try to say that he was wearing down after a long NFL season—he hung 149 yards on the Giants in the season finale the next week.

If Jones gains 57 yards on Monday, the Cowboys will lose. Should Portis put up just 2like he did in Dallas last year before he left with an injury, Washington will have a very tough road to a win.

So who will it be? Which back will lead his team to a win and a 2-0 start to the season?

Last year the policy in this space was that there would never again be a prediction that the Redskins would beat the Cowboys until such time that the Redskins actually did beat them. But, keeping with the theme here that what’s in the past is irrelevant, the final will be:

Washington 17, Dallas 16



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The best players left in the draft for the Redskins—Offense

The best players left in the draft for the Redskins—Offense

The Redskins have seven picks in the final four rounds of the draft today. Here are some of the top players available on offense. Will look at the defense a little later this morning.

Offensive line

G Dorian Johnson, Pitt—The Redskins probably would want him to add a few pounds to his frame, as at 6-5 he currently carries “only” 300 pounds. He’s smart, tough, and athletic.

G Nico Siragusa, San Diego State—At 6-4, his weight is about right at 319 pounds. A three-year starter with a great power game and pass protection skills that will need to be coached up.

RELATED: Redskins focus on defense in first 3 rounds

Tight end/receiver

TE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech—He’s big enough to be your blocking tight end and athletic enough to line up split out wide.

WR Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma—One of the most productive receivers in the country and a Heisman finalist. He’s a little small at 6-0, 178 but he has excellent deep speed.

Running back

RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma—As a true freshman in 2014 he set the national record by rushing for 427 yards in a game against Kansas. He probably doesn’t have that kind of monster game in him at the next level but he will be a solid, reliable back who can handle a heavy workload.

RB Jeremy McNichols, Boise State—A very productive runner and pass catcher who posted over 2,200 yards of offense last year.

MORE REDSKINS: Three reasons to like the pick of Ryan Anderson 

Quarterback

QB Nathan Peterman, Pitt—Nobody would have batted an eye if he had gone off the board in the third or maybe even the late second round. If the Redskins are concerned about Kirk Cousins leaving as a free agent, Peterman carries a very similar set of skills.

QB Brad Kaaya, Miami—Another QB many thought may be off the board by now, Kaaya has the mental makeup to succeed at quarterback but his game needs a lot of polish.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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