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The Washington Redskins will face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at FedEx Field for the team’s home opener. It’s sure to be an electric atmosphere as fans gear up for what they hope is a win against their divisional foe.
Both teams are entering the matchup under different circumstances. The Redskins are trying to recover from an embarrassing 32-27 comeback win by the Philadelphia Eagles while the Cowboys are riding the wave of a commanding victory over the New York Giants 35-17.
Week 2 is an opportunity for the team to regain control after falling short in Philadelphia. Here are three things the Redskins need to do to bounce back:
Perform completely on defense
With Dallas on the horizon, the Redskins will have to play solid defense consistently. In Philadelphia, the Redskins defense held the Eagles to seven points in the first half. The second half was a totally different story.
The defense allowed the Eagles’ offense to score 25 unanswered points before the Redskins finally scored another touchdown in the last three minutes of regulation. Not to mention, DeSean Jackson torched the Redskins’ secondary.
“I think we played hard in the first half,” Redskins’ defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “We made some plays that we needed to make. Too many drives of 12 plays, 12 plays and not getting off.”
In the Cowboys’ week one victory, Dak Prescott threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns, completing 25 of 32 pass attempts and not sacked once. The Redskins simply can’t afford to give Prescott the same opportunity if they’re seeking to improve to 1-1.
“[Carson] Wentz can hold the ball, he can scramble and get around,” Manusky continued. “We have to make sure we get after the same guy in Dallas. Prescott is very similar. We got to play better on third down and make sure we get off the field.”
The talent on defense is there for Washington and it showed in the first half of their week one loss. However, it is going to take continuity throughout all four quarters to slow down Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Balance the attack on offense
A win against the Cowboys will require a more balanced attack on offense. While the team is looking to put the running back drama behind them, Adrian Peterson is going to be a much needed boost to the backfield with Guice out for 6-8 weeks.
In the Eagles loss, the Redskins only rushed for 18 yards. In the past when the team’s passing and rushing game is clicking, they are usually on their way to victory. Washington needs to find a way to get Peterson and Thompson going so the pressure isn’t solely on quarterback Case Keenum and the wide receiver corps.
On the other side of the coin, the Redskins will need another outstanding performance from Keenum. Last week, he threw for 380 yards and completed 30-44 pass attempts.
Additionally, the ball distribution among receivers was impressive. Terry McLaurin (125 receiving yards), Vernon Davis (59), Paul Richardson, Jr. (36), Trey Quinn (33), Kelvin, Harmon (31) and Jeremy Spinkle (8) all saw opportunities versus the Eagles. If they can keep that up and get the running game more involved, the team will be in a good place when they meet the Cowboys.
The Redskins started off week 1 with the unnecessary distraction of designating Adrian Peterson as a healthy scratch. Before one snap occurred, the narrative across national media was the news of this surprising scenario.
Rumors were also swirling that the team’s veterans were not happy with head coach Jay Gruden’s decision. Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses even went as far as vocalizing his frustration on local radio.
“Any time you’ve got a Hall of Fame guy that doesn’t dress, man, it’s a slap in the face,” said Moses. “To have that guy just standing on the sideline is just, it doesn’t sit well to guys on the team or the NFL.”
While Gruden stuck by his choice to sit Peterson, it was an unwelcome distraction to go along with the Trent Williams holdout that has been looming since the offseason. At this point, the Redskins don’t need any more controversy, especially with their division rival coming to town.