Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys: Sketching out a Game Plan for Washington

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 21, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at FedEx Field on November 18, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Two teams beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11: the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. But the Redskins can't rely on getting help from the Dallas Cowboys in order to beat the Cowboys Thanksgiving Thursday in Dallas, so the game plan might require some tweaking. 

Here are some suggestions...


Stick to the run on offense

Robert Griffin III had a huge day despite throwing only 15 passes Sunday, but there's a good chance the 'Skins will need Griffin to attempt more than 15 passes Thursday. The hope, though, should be that they can have a successful day against the Cowboys without having to rely on Griffin's arm against a very good secondary.

As good as Bruce Carter has been, the Dallas front seven isn't in particularly good shape with Sean Lee and Kenyon Coleman out and Dan Connor and Jay Ratliff coming off of injuries. Alfred Morris has struggled a bit lately, but the 'Skins have to keep things on the ground often against that defensive front.

At the very least, that approach will shorten the game against a superior team while throwing the 'Boys off Griffin's scent. This is an offense that's averaging 5.2 yards per carry this year, and Morris' success is a big reason why RG3's rookie season has gone so swimmingly thus far.

Out of necessity, the Redskins gave it to Morris 20 times Sunday, despite the fact he was having trouble finding daylight. They can't start turning the ball over now and won't win this matchup by putting Griffin and a shoddy group of receivers up against the talented Dallas secondary without support from the running game. 

This offense has to remain three-dimensional: It has to pose a threat through the air, on the ground and with Griffin's legs. In other words, the read-option will again be the key to success in a big divisional matchup in Dallas.


Attack often on defense

The Redskins blitzed Nick Foles 20 times Sunday against Philly, taking advantage of a messy Eagles offensive line. And the results were good. The 'Skins don't have the talent up front right now to get enough pressure with a four-man rush. The only way they can compensate for a terrible secondary is by throwing the kitchen sink at Tony Romo and hoping that the Cowboys revert to their old habit of turning the ball over every three or four snaps. 

It's not as though Washington was doing anything much different in terms of the looks it showed defensively against Philly, but the defense was bringing extra men more often. It was quantity, not quality, but it worked. 

Romo's a smart quarterback with some good weapons, though, so despite the fact this depleted Dallas offensive line is a disaster waiting to happen, Jim Haslett will again have to feature Rob Jackson, Perry Riley and Lorenzo Alexander in newer, more exotic packages. And increasing DeAngelo Hall's role in blitzes couldn't hurt either. 

Actually, scratch that. It could hurt. It could always hurt when you're removing a defensive back from coverage, but the 'Skins have no choice but to roll the dice. They won't likely be able to win this game without big plays on defense and an edge in the turnover battle, because that's how short-handed they are and that's how they won their games early this season. 

This risk is necessary, and it's made easier by the fact the Cowboys aren't likely to have Tyron Smith or DeMarco Murray.