It's way too early for a must-win, but the Redskins really need to beat Dallas

JP Finlay
NBC Sports Washington

Quick out of the gate and impressive for 30 minutes, at halftime of Week 1 it looked like the Redskins planned to change their perception around the NFL. By the end of the game, however, it was back to normal.

The Redskins fell to the Eagles after playing a sloppy, uninspired second half, and familiar issues from 2018 and other past seasons reared their ugly head; communication breakdowns in the secondary and penalties on the offensive line the most noticeable. 

But, and it's a Sir Mix-A-Lot sized big butt, it was only Week 1. The Redskins have 15 more games left, almost an entire season. And there were plenty of positives from Week 1 too, particularly Case Keenum's performance and play from rookies Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Cole Holcomb. 

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For Washington, the rest of their life starts on Sunday against the Cowboys. Dallas looked fantastic in Week 1, blowing out the Giants, and the Redskins will have their work cut out for them. To beat the Cowboys, here are four keys.

  • 60 minutes - The Redskins collapsed in the second half in Philly and after the game former Eagles-Redskins-Bucs and now current Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said that Washington "thought they had the game sealed" at halftime. That's not how it works. The Redskins need to play a full 60-minute game to beat Dallas. That doesn't mean there won't be mistakes, miscues and momentum swings, but the team can't fall apart either. Against the Eagles, the Redskins gave up three straight touchdowns in the second half and Washington's offense did not register a first down in the third quarter. Prolonged slumps like that just cannot happen.  Cannot. Happen.

  • Control that clock - The Redskins lost the time of possession battle in Week 1 by nearly 10 minutes, and most of that delta came in the second half. That means the Redskins defense stayed on the field nearly the entire third and fourth quarter, and when the team needed stops, it didn't happen. Much of that is on the defense, most of it even, as the Eagles converted seemingly every third down in the third quarter. But the offense needs to sustain drives too. In the first half, Case Keenum did that. In the second half, it didn't happen. It needs to if Washington is going to beat Dallas. 

  • Watch the deep ball - DeSean Jackson torched the Redskins last week, and Dallas presents even more pass catching threats. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb all have game-breaking potential for the Cowboys. What's worse for Greg Manusky's team is that there are injuries to cornerback Quinton Dunbar and safety Montae Nicholson. Both could play Sunday, but that doesn't mean both will be 100 percent. Asked about the coverage breakdowns in Philly, Manusky said, "I think we just got to keep on working and communicating on the backend, frontline and across the board. The communication is vital, and we got to keep on doing that." Last week Dak Prescott threw four TDs; the Redskins communication better be ready. 

  • Turnovers, sacks, something - The defensive front is supposed to be the strength of the Washington team. Last week it wasn't. The Redskins gave up 123 rush yards and logged just one sack. To beat the Cowboys offense and Ezekiel Elliott, the performance must be much better. And that could be without stud defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. Even if the Redskins offense impresses like they did in the first half against the Eagles, the defense needs to play way, way better. It starts up front, and would be helped with pressure from Ryan Kerrigan and rookie first-round pick Montez Sweat. 

News & Notes

  • Injuries will determine a lot of what happens for the Redskins, and the status of Jordan Reed remains unclear. That's a huge question mark, as is Allen's status. Running back Derrius Guice had surgery this week and will miss significant time, but Adrian Peterson is prepared to step into that role. Stay tuned for injury updates all weekend.

  • Going into Sunday's game against Dallas, the Cowboys hold a 14-8 record against Washington at FedEx Field. 

  • Case Keenum is three TDs short of 70 career passing touchdowns. 

  • Adrian Peterson needs one touchdown to take over the 5th spot all-time among NFL rushing touchdowns, and will pass Jim Brown in the process.

  • Tress Way needs two punts inside the 20-yard line to become the all-time Redskins franchise leader. Matt Turk is currently first. 

  • In seven career games against Dallas, Landon Collins has never recorded an interception. That could change Sunday.

They said it: Jay Gruden on the status of Jordan Reed as he works through the NFL concussion protocol.

"I've explained this 3,000 times, O.K. They're never really totally out of the protocol, they just continue to get more work in practice. He did a lot of work in team today, which is good. He's just gotta continue to get more reps and we'll continue to monitor how he's feeling afterwards."

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It's way too early for a must-win, but the Redskins really need to beat Dallas originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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