Monday, December 07, 2015

DMN - Scouting the Redskins - Week 12

While it certainly seemed clear back in August that the NFC East was going to be down again, the idea that December would arrive with the Washington Redskins in first place seemed extremely far-fetched. Yet, with only a 5-6 record (by virtue of winning two of the three NFC East games they have played), that is exactly where they are.

This rivalry certainly has its history, with the Cowboys having a tremendous lead in the all-time series (65-43-2) and that has been the case recently with Dallas winning nine of the last 13 matchups.

However, all of the four wins the Redskins have pulled off during that stretch have been on the national stage in either prime time or on Thanksgiving Day.

In other words, when Dallas plays Washington on Sunday afternoons since 2008, the Cowboys win. When they don't, very entertaining and memorable matchups take place.

There will be no rematch between Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo on this Monday Night (or ever again, most likely, as Griffin is surely leaving Washington after this season).

Kirk Cousins and Matt Cassel lead their teams into a battle that will continue to sort out a poor division where currently every team has a losing record.

Aside from Cousins, here are three Washington players to keep a close eye on.

LB Ryan Kerrigan

Anytime you play Washington, you better plan your pass protection around the idea of slowing down the former first-round pick out of Purdue in 2011. He is relentless in his pass rush and possesses a number of moves that can test any tackle (usually, the right side) on the edge. His go-to move is to dip his right shoulder underneath the tackle and turn the corner with a quick power combination. His production in 2015 has been below his huge year last season, but with two sacks last week against the Giants, he again is Washington's finest pass rusher.

RG Brandon Scherff

Only one Redskins player has played every snap of every game in 2015, and that would be the first-round pick (5th overall) out of Iowa. Scherff was an absolute force at the left tackle spot with the Hawkeyes and many argued whether he or La'el Collins was the best lineman in the 2015 draft group. The Redskins decided they preferred Scherff over USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams who slid to them, but also believed that Scherff should move inside to guard as a rookie. Since then, he has had mixed reviews as both a pass blocker and surprisingly, as an interior zone blocker, too. Still, it would seem that Washington has realized they needed to upgrade their offensive line, and the selection of Scherff adds something of substance to a group that already featured solid left tackle Trent Williams.

TE Jordan Reed

Without a doubt, the breakout offensive threat in 2015 has been the third-year tight end out of Florida, Jordan Reed. Reed has certainly struggled to stay on the field in his career, having suffered as many as five concussions going back to college and also sustaining a number of lower-body injuries that hamper his athleticism. Additionally, he entered the NFL with stories of attitude issues coloring his time in Gainesville. But, when he is fit, he has proven to be a dangerous threat with fine hands and nice mobility. Never much of a run-blocker, he is a pure receiving threat tight end who has quickly become Cousins' favorite target. Despite missing two games already, Reed leads Washington in catches, yards, and touchdown receptions. There is no question he will test the Cowboys after Greg Olsen's success for Carolina last week.

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