Redskins-Cowboys week means getting the view from behind enemy lines with Cowboys HQ. It also means Breaking Burgundy provides the look to those folk frrom this end. Publisher Ben Standig answered questions about 2015, preseason expectations and the quarterbacks. As for the primary video, this is Cowboys HQ's take on the rivalry. Interesting seeing how the other ide views history...
CowboysHQ: Washington has proven to be a Jekyl & Hyde team in 2015; outrageously competitive and prosperous at Fed Ex Field, while lacking on the road. Two parter, what's the team's take on this been and does it match your evaluation of what this team is?
Breaking Burgundy: I think the team wishes they had an answer. Most teams play better at home than the road, but obviously these splits are severe: 5-1 at FedEx, 0-5 anywhere else. The play of Kirk Cousins certainly fluctuated when away from home, especially early in the season.
Maybe we can simply look at the schedule and note the opponents. At home, Washington faced the Dolphins, Rams, Eagles, Bucs, Saints and Giants. On the road, Giants, Falcons, Jets, Patriots, Panthers. Yeah, that’s a big difference. At the time Atlanta was undefeated and Washington had the lead in the second half before losing in overtime. They also led the Jets before imploding in the third quarter. After Monday’s game, three of their last four are on the road and none against teams with winning records.
CHQ: What were your expectations for this team entering the season and what has or hasn't happened along those lines that has resulted in them sitting atop the division with only five weeks remaining.
BB: The sitting atop the division part is easy: Your side lost Tony Romo, the Eagles lost their way under Chip Kelly and the Giants are once again pulling the schizophrenic act of looking great one week and horrid the next. As for the Redskins, I’ll need to double check the archives for the exact number, but I was thinking 6-7 wins. Generally speaking, I liked the direction first-year GM Scot McCloughan took by building up both lines via free agency (defensive linemen Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean-Francois) and the draft (guard Brandon Scherff). For me sitting QB Robert Griffin III for Cousins was a no-brainer. My biggest issues involved the evolution of head coach Jay Gruden and overall team depth. Gruden impresses with his offensive schemes and he’s kept the locker room together despite some rough patches. Injuries especially on the OL and in the secondary have hurt at times. Another year of moves will help.
CHQ: On Twitter, we discuss Washington's execution of the fifth-year option on Robert Griffin being something that handcuffed them from possibly trading him midseason. What's your take on how the team has handled him and what do you see in his future, even if it's outside of DC?
BB: Any issues I had revolved around enabling Griffin and that took place before McCloughan arrived on the scene and probably Gruden as well. Look, that rookie season was amazing, but RG3 isn’t that guy anymore. Once the injuries mounted, he lost the desire to run into traffic. His legs made him special. As a pocket passer, he’s ordinary at best at this point in his career. The current staff, not burdened with the promise of that first season, saw him for what he is and tried coaching him and the team accordingly. Frankly I’m surprised he’s still on the roster. If he plays and suffers a serious injury, his massive 2016 salary becomes guaranteed ad it’s clear that the head coach doesn’t want that. I don’t blame him. If Griffin revives his career, it won’t be in Washington.
CHQ: Although I wanted Dallas to draft him as a potential long-term heir to Romo,in recent years I've compared Kirk Cousins to a newer version of Rex Grossman. What's your take on Cousins and his ability to be the long-term answer for Washington?
BB: I was one of the few pushing for Cousins as the starter and potential long-term answer going back to the end of last season. Sure there were too many interceptions, but when you look at the entire picture, it seemed clear he was the best hope. Cousins can make all the throws needed. He allowed Gruden to use his entire playbook. His ability to recognize defensive shifts before the snap has helped a young and limited offensive line avoid giving up many sacks. I like the Grossman comparison, but positively. Both have gunslingers mentality. Grossman never could clean up his penchant for horrid decisions. Cousins is improving; zero interceptions in last five home games. Factor in the late game heroics and no-drama vibe and I think the Redskins have their QB for at least next season if not several more – assuming they can keep him from leaving in free agency.
CHQ: Give us the names of three Washington players who might not be well-known but will make an impact on Monday night?
BB: Inside linebacker Will Compton recently moved into the starting lineup while Keenan Robinson battled a shoulder injury. Now in the starting lineup on the unofficial depth chart as of this week, Compton kept the job because of versatility and good tackling. Opponents ran all over the Redskins in part because of missed tackles. Compton recorded 35 over the last four games and Washington improved each week against the run.
You know the name DeAngelo Hall, but you don’t know him at safety. That’s where he’s officially listed as of this week after spending his entire career at corner. The move is partly because the Redskins have had issues at strong safety all season, but also this is where the 12-year veteran needs to play. His presence should help the overall pass coverage.
Lastly, keep an eye on wide receiver Jamison Crowder. The shifty rookie from Duke hasn’t looked green all season running routes from the slot. Crowder was actually their impact WR threat until DeSean Jackson returned from injury. Now that Jackson has a big play in three straight weeks, something tells me the Redskins look for Crowder about more as defensive coverage’s shift a bit more toward the veteran.