By Shawn S. Lealos
The NFC East is a mess this season. The New York Giants have not won a game yet and the Dallas Cowboys sit on top, tied with the Philadelphia Eagles, despite having losing records. Stuck in the middle is the one-win Washington Redskins, coming off a much needed bye week. This week, Dallas looks to improve their NFL East record to 2-0 as the Redskins come to Big D.
The man that the Redskins need to step up in this game is Robert Griffin III. The Cowboys have given up over 400 passing yards to three different quarterbacks this season and Griffin might join that group. However, he has a weapon that those quarterbacks do not have, and that is the ability to move the ball with his legs.
The one big problem for Washington this year is that Griffin, coming off an injury at the end of 2012, has not been showcasing the same explosiveness he did last year. He has only run the ball 18 times this season for 72 yards. Instead of running the ball, Griffin has been throwing it more, with an eye-popping 139 attempts in the first three games of the season, an average of 46 attempts a game.
That is how to beat the Dallas Cowboys this season, and that is what makes Washington dangerous. What the Cowboys have to hope for is that the Redskins see the lower passing numbers resulted in a win over Oakland and try to run the ball more.
In Week 5, Knowshon Moreno ran all over the Dallas defense and almost broke 100 yards in the game, the best rushing attack against the Cowboys this season. For Washington, that man is Alfred Morris, who is coming off bruised ribs he suffered against the Raiders. Morris has been impressive this season, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, but it is similar to the Dallas situation where he has only averaged 14 carries a game.
If that keeps up, the Dallas vs. Washington game might be another shootout.
Pierre Garcon is still the number one target through the air, with 29 receptions for 339 yards and two touchdowns. Leonard Hankerson is the other big target, with 15 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns, but both of his touchdowns came in the Week 1 game with Philadelphia. Former starting tight end Fred Davis is losing his job to rookie Jordan Reed, who has 13 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown on the season.
The best news for Dallas, and their chances to win this game, is that the Redskins defense ranks 27th in the NFL against the pass and 31st against the run. Despite playing little in the loss to Denver, DeMarco Murray still ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards and should have a solid game against the Redskins while Romo, coming off his 500 yard day, should find plenty to work with against the Redskins secondary.
While Washington looked good against the Oakland Raiders, that was the Raiders. This week’s game against Tony Romo is the start of a murderer’s row with Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning following. Things are going to get worse before they get better for the Washington Redskins defense.
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins kick off at 8:30 p.m. EST on Sunday Night Football.
For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.