Cowboys Countdown to Kickoff In Washington

Dallas and Washington are taking each other on for the 111th time in the Range War of Pro Football. Here are 10 stats Cowboys fans need to be aware of as we count down to the 12:00 p.m. Central Time kickoff on Fox.

 

10: Number of wins Jason Garrett has in initial encounters with NFC East foes -- The record is 10-7 for RedBall, but the good news is that he's 5-1 on the road with that lone loss coming on Oct. 30, 2011 at Philadelphia when Andy Reid was still the head coach. For the most part, Garrett gets his guys ready to play in visiting stadiums across the NFC East. How does Jay Gruden, Washington's head coach, fare hosting NFC East teams at home in an initial game? 1-1 with a 2-4 record overall. The first division win of the season is there for the Cowboys, but they have to keep their wits about them to seize it.

 Oh, and in this NFL, if you start 0-2, you have an 88-percent chance of missing the playoffs. 

9: Road games Romo played in Washington -- The Dallas franchise quarterback since 2006 has posted a 5-4 record and an 87.8 passer rating. On average, he went 21/33 for 241 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and was sacked twice. In order for the Cowboys to have a good chance to win, Prescott is going to have to hit those averages at a minimum. The fourth-rounder showed good poise last week and a penchant for protecting the football with no interceptions, fumbles, or even sacks. While it would be nice to continue avoiding such mistakes at FedEx Field, the Cowboys need Prescott to deliver in the touchdown department this week.

 

 

8: Kirk Cousin's wins since 2015 when not sacked -- The full record is 8-2 against a 2-6 mark when sacked once or more. The Cowboys found themselves on both sides of those records in '15: Dec. 7, the 19-16 Monday night win and Jan. 3, the 34-23 lay-down loss with Kellen Moore under center. Left tackle Trent Williams is questionable with a glute injury, and surprisingly Washington did not surrender a sack against Pittsburgh. Nonetheless, the Cowboys have to find a way to pressure Washington's single-season passing yardage leader or he will carve up the Dallas secondary which is ailing thanks to Orlando Scandrick's hamstring injury that lists him as questionable.

 

USA Today

 

7: Lucky Whitehead's offensive snaps last week -- Whitehead was one of the instrumental pieces to defeating Washington last season in the Cowboys' lone win without Romo under center, a 19-16 victory on Monday Night Football. Last week against the Giants, the Cowboys moved Whitehead around in pre-snap and even faked a jet sweep to him as Ezekiel Elliott ran up the middle. This can't be the case against Washington, a defense who last year Whitehead exploited for a 13-yard sweep and a 22-yard sweep later in the fourth quarter. Much has been made of not getting the ball into Dez Bryant's hands against New York and how the club must remedy that in Washington. The same can be said for Whitehead. He is a weapon the Cowboys offensive staff needs to remember to use.

 

6: Number of receptions DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Jamison Crowder each had last week -- Cousins found ways to distribute the football against Pittsburgh, even though the offense mustered just one touchdown despite four trips in the Steelers red zone. Dallas cornerbacks Mo Claiborne, Brandon Carr, and Orlando Scandrick or even the rookie Anthony Brown are going to have to win their battles against this renascent Fun Bunch. No Giants receiver went over four receptions, though Odell Beckham did top out at 73 yards receiving. The Cowboys corners are going to have to keep up the good pass coverage, though more interceptions like Carr had and less 45-yard bombs like Scandrick had would be great.

 

5: Dez's targets in Week 1 -- While Prescott, echoing the Cowboys offensive brain trust, said that Dallas is going to run their offense and deviate wildly from the game plan to get Bryant the ball, maybe they should consider making Bryant a part of the game plan. Thanks to our CowboysHQ.com pal Joey Ickes, Bryant was sent on go-routes 21/44 times against the Giants and four of his five total targets were deep balls. Here. We're going to post a highlight video with muzak in the background to illustrate the routes Dallas needs to run to get Bryant the ball that wouldn't impetuously detour from their game plan.

 

Fish goes 1-on-1 with Dez here in Cowboys Premium to give you some gameplan secrets for today

4: Dallas' rank in points off turnovers -- Okay. It's only been one week and the Cowboys are tied with five other teams for the fourth-best spot in the NFL with seven points, but it nevertheless illustrates the point that when Rod Marinelli's defense comes up with the takeaways, Linehan's offense has to come up with the points. The team gets a blue star for accomplishing just that last week against New York when Ezekiel Elliott capped off a seven-play, 35-yard drive early in the third quarter with an 8-yard touchdown, all made possible by Carr's interception of Eli Manning. This has to continue if Dallas wants to avoid an 0-2 start. In fact, the last time Dallas scored a touchdown off a takeaway was Darren McFadden's 6-yard touchdown run after Jackson fumbled a punt return late in the fourth quarter.

Orlando Scandrick (hammy) will try to give it a go today. Maybe he makes a big play in this department.

 

3: Number of different quarterbacks Dallas has trotted out against Washington since 2014 -- With Romo reliant on "the man upstairs," as Jerry Jones likes to call God, to heal his back so he can play in 2016, the Cowboys are starting Prescott, a rookie quarterback, at Washington. We know this; we know fans don't read CowboysHQ for the obvious. But the fact is this illustrates the chaos at quarterback since Romo has gone down and how Dallas needs a stable backup this afternoon in Washington. Prescott is the first Cowboys rookie quarterback to start in Washington since 2002 when Chad Hutchinson was under center for Dave Campo's final game on Dec. 29. Dallas rookie QB's are 3-2 against Washington, and the club is hoping Prescott increases the left side of that dash.

Dak has a future, as we note here in this deep-dive analysis piece. But a present is important, too.

 

USA Today

 

2: Holding calls La'el Collins got last week against New York -- The second-year left guard was only flagged twice all year in 2015 for offensive holding, but comes out in Week 1 and matches that annual total. On top of that, these penalties happened in the fourth quarter and put the Dallas offense so far behind the chains that they ultimately had to punt, including the team's penultimate drive that would have helped them take the lead whether by field goal or touchdown if not for the progress-stopping penalty. Collins, a conscientious, hard-working lineman mature beyond his years, needs to play like it in Washington to help his team avoid an 0-2 start. Indeed, Free and Witten needs to be better blockers than they were in Week 1, too.

 

1: Alfred Morris' spot on Washington's season rushing list if he were still there -- That's right. Morris carried the ball seven times for 35 yards in a reserve role to Zeke, but he still managed to out-gain any individual rusher for Washington, whether Matt Jones (seven carries, 24 yards) or Chris Thompson (four carries, 23 yards). Now, when players like Morris go back to face their old teams, the acrimony isn't there with any of their old teammates but rather with the front offices that found their production lacking and replaceable. Even as a backup to what Cowboys fans are hoping is the next Hall-of-Fame back, Morris can still be very vital to the Dallas ground game. To some degree, behind Zeke, Linehan and Garrett today should see if Morris' lifetime 4.4 yards per carry at FedEx Field is still alive.


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