“I cannot think of team I dislike more than the Washington Redskins,” a common line you will hear from any serious Cowboys fan. I will admit that over the last few years the Redskins/Cowboys rivalry has lost some luster with both teams going through stretches of being noncompetitive as the league in concerned. But here we are, 2010 season is about to kickoff and the two teams that might have the most reason to hate each other over any other rivalry in the league, are set to kick it off in primetime on Sunday Night. There is no other rivalry that shares the history that these two teams do. If you do not know, I encourage you to research it. What a perfect way to start the season. At 8:00 pm EST on NBC, the Dallas Cowboys will drop in for a visit on the nation’s capital.
There are some intriguing story lines happening in this one. The Washington branch of Amtrack has kicked off “Honk if you hate the Cowboys” campaign in an effort to get their fans ripe with hate ahead of the game. Maybe it is me, but I have the feeling that you do not need to do much to elicit responses of hate towards “America’s Team” in Washington. Now, one might argue that due to Washington’s ineptness the last few season, the Cowboys are in more heated rivalries with the Giants and Eagles, and you may be right. Make no mistake though, the Cowboys and their fans still loathe the Redskins and that feeling is mutual.
Another good headline is the Washington quarterback is switching from one rivalry into another. Donovan McNabb, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, has now switched perspectives a little. McNabb, while already hating the Cowboys, now gets to see them from the Redskins view. The acquisition of McNabb instantly makes Washington, a team that gave the Cowboys trouble last season, a much improved team. McNabb brings a strong arm, leadership, and a winning attitude to a troubled Washington team. He instantly makes their offense dangerous, despite the lack of quality weapons around him.
On the Cowboys side, they get to unveil their new weapon, first round pick Dez Bryant. Bryant missed all the preseason games with a high ankle sprain. Bryant has been practicing for two weeks now and according to those who witness some of the practice time he is looking explosive and dangerous. Cowboys fans are chomping at the bit to see him play. The Cowboys have lots of weapons on offense, now we get to see how they will all fit together.
Things To Watch For:
When it comes to Redskins vs. Cowboys it does not matter your record or your potential. All that matters is that game. Even when either team was horrible they always play close games. This year will be no exception. Expect a close fight.
The Redskins are hoping to be competitive again. They have a new coach (Mike Shanahan), a new quarterback (Donovan McNabb), and a new defense (3-4). For Washington, the key will be to get off to a good start. They need to put some points on the board and force Dallas into bad field position. The Redskins defense will look to shut down the Cowboys running game completely and force their patchwork offensive line to withstand tough down and distance situations. Shanahan has a history of pumping out good running games and now that he is reunited with RB Clinton Portis you can expect the Cowboys are going to get a large dose of the running game. The Redskins are going to need to be careful with McNabb. They will want to have a balanced attack and protect McNabb from feeling like he did in Philly, the world on his shoulders.
For the Cowboys, they need to block. They need to protect Romo, but more importantly need to open up that run game. When you are playing on the road the run game is what you need to take the other team out of it. The Cowboys have a lot of pressure to perform and the offensive line is under a microscope with the injuries and the insertion of Doug Free for Flozell Adams. If the Cowboys are going to win they need a big game from the three headed monster. Romo and company will look to Witten to move the chains and Austin for the big plays and hope Dez will learn on the fly. The wildcard will be WR Roy Williams. This is Williams’ last chance. The Cowboys have the future on the roster now and he knows he has one more season to prove he is worthy of keeping.
The Cowboys defense will look to stop the run forcing Washington into third and long. They will turn McNabb over to Ware and Spencer on third downs and try to test McNabbs injured ankle. If the Cowboys can take away the run game, they should be able to shutdown Washington all together. Of course, a lot easier said than done.
If you are at all interested in football your excitement for the kickoff of the season must be boiling over. Enjoy week 1 everybody.