Redskins-Cowboys keys to the game: defense
The Redskins defense had an inspired performance last Sunday but came up short on some plays that cost the team, most notably the two point conversion they gave up. If the Redskins are to beat the Cowboys this Sunday, this is what the defense will have to do.
Their first big challenge will be to be strong up front and stop or at the least slow down the Cowboys running game. It will be important to keep Dallas as one dimensional as possible. The reason is, with an injury depleted secondary, they will need as much help as possible from the linebackers and pass rush.
If the defense can stop the run I believe Jason Garrett and the Cowboys will turn to the pass. Now here's where it gets complicated. The Redskins pass rush has been very ineffective this year but if they can stop the run they will know that the Cowboys will be passing the ball. This will allow the defense to focus more on coverage and pressure.
Which leads me into my second point: The defense must have better pass coverage. Coming into this game Dallas will be thinking that they have an advantage in the passing game. Jim Hasslett will need to be aggressive and creative with his pressures. He will also need to try and mix and disguise coverages to try and force a bad throw.
Jon Kitna is a veteran quarterback. He will have good knowledge of coverages and will be able to read blitzes. But if Haslett is creative it shouldn't matter if Kitna is trying to pre-read the point of attack.
The Redskins secondary doesn't match up well with the Dallas receiving core athletically so they will have to be physical when they can. If there is a catch made they will need to tackle immediately. The Cowboys are without wide receiver Dez Bryant and that helps, but there are still plenty of weapons on the Dallas roster that the Redskins will need to focus on.
Turnovers. The defense can help itself and the offense if it can find a way to cause some turnovers. DeAngelo Hall has been a lone master of creating turnovers for the defense this season. If they can get some big hits and some calculated pass coverages that confuse Kitna they should be able to cause a couple turnovers.
So here it is: Stop the run, stop the pass and cause turnovers. If the Redskins do this they will win this phase of the game. That said, due to the injuries in the Redskins secondary and the lack of pass rush I have to give the edge to the Cowboys.
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