Here’s who the Cowboys play in 2018 and where to watch them
Is this even a debate anymore? You don’t have to be a football genius to see the Dallas Cowboys’ offense is more effective when Dak Prescott is a threat to run.
In fact, he always is a threat to run, but he doesn’t always take advantage of the fact. That’s more on the offensive gameplan and the coaches than on Prescott.
Prescott, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and head coach Jason Garrett have routinely taken the position that they’re letting the defense dictate Prescott’s running game.
Of course, depending on what he sees at the line of scrimmage, that makes sense … to a point. Perhaps, for the seventh game in his third full season, Prescott start pushing the envelope on some of those reads. Force the issue with the run whether he’s keeping it or pitching it to Ezekiel Elliott. They did it last week against one of the league’s best defenses. The Redskins currently have the second-best defense in the league. It has worked. Keep working it.
Five things to watch between the Cowboys and Redskins:
1. Run it up
Elliott could be poised for a big day on the ground. After a relatively slow start, the third-year running back has picked up the pace and is second in the league with 586 yards. The last time he faced Washington (October 2017), he had 150 yards on a career-high 33 attempts. In his last six games last season, he had at least 24 carries each game. He has 69 attempts for 312 yards over the past three games.
2. Communicating on the road/Offensive line
If there is one overriding theme that has been pushed by the Cowboys’ offense — perhaps surprisingly candidly — it’s acknowledging that their communication has been a problem on the road. That includes offensive linemen not hearing the snap and being late off the ball. That led to Tyron Smith getting beat a couple of times in Houston. At other times, receivers missed pre-snap signals from Prescott. Some of the communication issues can be attributed to a slew of new players on offense. But not entirely. Most of these players are used to deafening crowd noise. It’s time they put this narrative to bed.
3. Sean Lee returns
Linebacker Sean Lee will return to the field after missing three games with a hamstring injury. The clearest sign yet? Lee ran the team’s jumping jack drill before Friday’s practice, which is rotated from player to player throughout the season. Lee was close a week ago but was inactive against the Jaguars. Rookie Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have been outstanding, but having Lee’s experience and presence on the field, even in a limited role, is a big lift.
4. Who’s going streaking?
Both teams are trying to win consecutive games for the first time in 2018. Dallas is trying to win its first road game. First place in the NFC East is on the line with Cowboys and Eagles (both 3-3) a half game behind the Redskins (3-2). Philadelphia hosts the Panthers. The Giants (1-5) are vying for worst team in the league again. Dallas has won four consecutive games against Washington. The Cowboys have won the past five at FedEx Field.
5. Is this rivalry still hot?
Does the world still care about the Cowboys and Redskins rivalry? Sure, the diehards on both sides are likely to still carry a torch for former rivalry glory. It runs too deep to shake. But for everyone else? The Redskins have been mediocre-to-bad for most of the past 20 years. They have one playoff win since 2000 and have won more the nine games just three times since 1991. And yes, Redskins fans, we’re aware of the Cowboys’ struggles the past 20 years.