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Blognostications

2016 Week 2 - Cowboys @ Redskins

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Blognosticator - Om

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It’s the Wednesday after, and the post-mortems on the Redskins season-opening woodshed job at the hands of the Pittsburgh have been plentiful and thorough.

The micro angles have all been covered:

On offense, Kirk Cousins looked average. The running game went nowhere. Newcomers parsed all summer—RB Rob Kelley, WR Josh Docston, LB Sua Cravens—were non-factors. Good drives and scoring opportunities resulted in no points or field goals instead of touchdowns. We know the drill. Against good NFL teams with prolific offenses of their own, field goals don’t cut it.

On defense, the down linemen and linebackers were ineffective. They got gashed by the run and contained rushing the passer. The result was predictable—no chance to adequately assess the revamped secondary, which stood little chance for an entire game against an elite passer and elite receiver from Pittsburgh both quite possibly going to the Hall of Fame.

Coaching? Gruden and company seemed to have the team ready to play coming in—offense, defense and special teams all played at full-speed and mostly effectively in the first half. Or at least they did until a few bad breaks and a few great plays by the Steelers started to add up, and it became clear the Redskins had no extra gear to downshift to and raise their level. Whatever adjustments were made as the game wore on and things got bleaker, were ineffective.

All of which, of course, has since made it open-season on the macro stuff:

Opening day three-touchdown losses at home, on national television no less, on the heels of an eerily similar beat-down against Green Bay in January the last time the team played, and the ground underfoot suddenly seems less solid in Redskins Nation. Just like that, a team and a fan base that went into Monday night hoping to double-down on last year’s strong regular season finish, came out of Monday Night questioning everything.

Is the GM building the team the right way?

Can the coaches coach?

Can the quarterback play?

As of this writing, all of those questions are legit to ask and can be reasonably argued either way.

Which leads us, inexorably, to next week’s game at home against none other than our team’s hated, historic rival, the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas comes into town at 0-1 as well, but unlike the Redskins, they’ll be playing with house money. Expectation? Nah. Not if I’m I a ‘boyz fan. If I am, I’m saying ...hey, we have a rookie QB and RB. We have the Skins again later this year on Turkey Day, at home, where we feel pretty good about our chances. Worry about this early season road game? Nah. We got no pressure. Play loose. Take chances. Oh and feed them a feed-trough-full dose of RB Alfred Morris behind, say it after me, the best offensive line in football. Talk about karma and shit. Frickin’ yeehaw.

By the way, if I’m ever a Cowboys fan, just go ahead and pull the plug already.

So there’s the thing. If the Redskins had scored touchdowns in the red zone Monday, like they did most of the second half of last year, instead of those three field goals, it’s a different game and we’re having different conversations this week. Oh, we’d almost certainly still have lost, because Big Ben and Steelers offense looked like they could have scored at will, just faster and more often if they’d needed to. But for the sake of argument, a 38-28 loss, where the Redskins offense looked more like the offense we saw down the stretch last year, and we’d be heading into week two against a very average Dallas team feeling pretty good about chances to outshoot ‘em.

If we were serious about breaking Redskins vs Cowboys down into X’s and O’s, we’d spend time talking about our vulnerable-looking run defense against a strong Dallas offensive line and a couple of legit running backs.

We’d talk about Joe Barry needing to be at his creative best mixing and matching coverages and timely blitzes to both contain and confuse rookie hotshot QB Dak Prescott … who I’m guessing most of the football world expects to see have a coming-out party this weekend at our expense.

We’d talk about how desperately we need Kirk Cousins to hit the field with fire in his eyes, and challenge the Dallas secondary down the field early, often and all day long.

And we’d talk about how Gruden better figure out SOME kind of way to rush the ball, if not dominantly, at least competently.

But we’re not going to do that. Why? Because this one isn’t going to be played on paper. This one is going to be decided by whether the Redskins team that shows up Sunday looks and play more like the feisty, overachieving group we saw last year when the chips were down, or the team so clearly playing like less than the sum of their parts against Pittsburgh.

If the Redskins are who we hoped they’d be in 2016—a team still in the formative stages but also clearly on the rise—they’ll find a way to beat this unremarkable version of the Dallas Cowboys. The offense will score touchdowns, the defense will make THEM kick field goals and cause a couple key turnovers, and when it’s all said and done, the Redskins will run off the field with a cathartic W. They they’ll road trip up to New York in week three looking to steal one from the Giants and head into the bye week—er, Browns week—with a chance to go 3-1 and maybe get something going.

If they don’t? Well, we’re not going to talk about that today. Because the fallout would be unthinkable. Only local sports talk-show hosts and I-told-you-so fans would be happy at that point, because nothing drives ratings or calls attention to someone more than lustily beating the “fire everybody and start over” drum.

The Redskins won’t do that to the rest of us. They just won’t.

Screw the X’s and O’s, this one is about good versus evil.

Redskins 27, Cowboys 20

Updated 09-15-16 at 07:19 AM by Om

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