By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys are sitting at a shocking 6-1 to open the 2014 NFL season. They currently have the most wins in the NFL and have the second ranked offense behind only the Indianapolis Colts. DeMarco Murray is the NFL’s leading rusher by almost 400 yards over the next best runner, with 913 total rushing yards and seven touchdowns. However, this week, records can be thrown out the window because the Washington Redskins are up in the schedule.
Here is a look at the Washington Redskins heading into the big week eight game.
A Rivals Game
There might not be more heated rivals in the NFL than the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. They have hated each other since the start when Dallas came into the NFL and the two teams battled on and off the field from the beginning. Because of the rivalry and hatred between the two teams, records can be thrown out the window when they meet up each year.
1989 was a perfect example. The Dallas Cowboys were in their first year under new owner Jerry Jones, head coach Jimmy Johnson and quarterback Troy Aikman. They struggled all season and won only one game, finishing the year 1-15. That one win came against the Washington Redskins. On a related note, the Redskins won the Super Bowl at the end of that season, proving that this is a game that either team can win, no matter which one is better.
Who is Playing Quarterback?
The biggest problem with the Washington Redskins this weekend comes at the quarterback position. Robert Griffin III is supposed to be the star on this team, the franchise quarterback to lead the Redskins into the future. However, he has been shaky since taking them to the playoffs in his rookie campaign and he started out the 2014 NFL season struggling. After an injury in the second game of the season, Kirk Cousins replaced him in the starting lineup.
Cousins looked spectacular in his first appearance with the Redskins and it looked like fans might want him as their starting quarterback instead of Griffin, even when Griffin returned from his injury. After winning the game where he replaced Griffin in the lineup, Cousins lost the next four, while throwing 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Washington finally benched him in the Tennessee Titans game and Colt McCoy came in and led the Redskins back to victory.
Any NFL team that thinks they can rely on Colt McCoy is in a lot of trouble.
While the Redskins have only won two games this season, their defense has played well at times. They rank eighth in total passing yards allowed (218.6) and 12th in rushing yards allowed (103.3), but that is only part of the story. During their four game losing streak, they surrendered 139 points and had to play catchup in every one of those games, something they couldn’t accomplish.
Washington ranks 13th in total defense, but 24th in points allowed. While they rank third in total offense for yards gained, they rank 22nd in points scored. This means that the Redskins can move the ball, but can’t close the deal. It means that they can limit the opposing offenses, but can’t keep them out of the end zone.
This is because the Redskins rank dead last in the NFL for turnovers. Washington has thrown nine interceptions and lost six fumbles this season, while only picking off three passes and recovering three fumbles of their own. This gives them a negative nine turnover differential, which is even worse than the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets. This is why the Redskins struggle to win games.
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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.