(SportsNetwork.com) – Things have been coming up Cowboys in the 2014 NFL
The surprising ‘Boys entered Week 8 with the league’s best record at 6-1 and
long-time rival Washington looming on “Monday Night Football.” And the
Redskins are expected to start their third different quarterback in just eight
Washington first-year head coach Jay Gruden sort of named Colt McCoy as the
team’s new starter while Robert Griffin III continues to rehabilitate a
dislocated ankle suffered in Week 2 against Jacksonville.
Gruden, however, is also paying lip service to a potential RG3 return but
that’s likely an attempt to game a competitive advantage.
“We’re preparing for Colt to be the starter,” Gruden said. “But we’re trying
to get Robert some reps, get him ready, but right now it looks like odds are
Colt will be the starter, but we’re trying to work Robert into the lineup and
trying to get him reps to get him ready to go.”
If it is McCoy under center, it will be the University of Texas product’s
first start since Dec. 8, 2011 when he piloted the Cleveland Browns against
the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I just want to go out there and be who I am — that is who I am every day in
here — be confident and play the best football I can play,” McCoy said.
McCoy replaced an ineffective Kirk Cousins at halftime during last Sunday’s
19-17 win against Tennessee and led the Redskins on a 10-play, 76-yard game-
winning drive, culminated by a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal as time expired.
“We needed a win bad,” said Forbath. “Colt stepped in, put me in a great
position. I couldn’t ask for better field position to kick the game-winner, so
hats off to our offense for getting us there.”
McCoy, who was 6-15 in his career as a starter in Cleveland, finished 11-of-12
for 128 yards and a touchdown to Pierre Garcon in the second half against the
Titans as Washington halted a four-game skid.
“He’s had to learn like all back-up quarterbacks have had to do. But he’s
very, very smart,” Gruden said when discussing McCoy. “He’s been in this
system before — a West Coast-type system — so he’s familiar with a lot of
the pass concepts. We figured if his number was called, he’d be ready to go.”
Cousins was 10-of-16 for 139 yards with an interception over the first 30
minutes. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in six games
— five starts — as RG3’s original replacement.
The Cowboys earned their sixth straight victory with a 31-21 home win over the
New York Giants in Week 7.
DeMarco Murray went over the century mark in rushing yards for the seventh
straight week and Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes in the NFC East
Murray gained 128 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, becoming the first
running back in NFL history to open the season with seven straight weeks of
100-plus yards in the process. Last week, Murray matched Jim Brown’s NFL
record of six straight weeks with a 115-yard performance in Dallas’ win in
“I think we did this as a group, so it’s hard for me to accept this
individually,” Murray said when addressing his record-breaking streak. “The
offensive line is a huge part of this — the tight ends, the receivers, the
entire coaching staff. But I definitely give a lot of credit to those guys.
But there’s a lot of hard work that (still) needs to be done. It’s a long
The surging Cowboys haven’t lost since a Week 1 setback to San Francisco in
which Romo threw three interceptions. The veteran QB has tossed 13 touchdown
passes against just three picks since that game, including a 17-for-23 effort
with 279 yards and his fifth straight multi-touchdown game against the Giants.
Two of his three touchdowns went to tight end Gavin Escobar, who made three
catches for 65 yards in the first multi-score game of his career. Dez Bryant
led all receivers with nine catches and 151 yards.
This game marks the 16th meeting between the Cowboys and Redskins on “Monday
Night Football,” the second-most frequent matchup in the 45-year history of
the series (Raiders-Broncos, 17 times).
Dallas leads the all-time series with a 64-40-2 advantage and has won five of
the past seven meetings, including both matchups in 2013. The ‘Boys are 43-32
on “Monday Night Football.” while the ‘Skins are under water at 27-36 on the
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Cowboys have morphed from a pass-first bunch to a team predicated on the
running game under offensive play caller Scott Linehan.
Murray leads the NFL with 913 rushing yards and has more yardage on the ground
by himself than 28 NFL teams. He’s also run it 187 times and that’s on pace
for an NFL record 427 carries which could be an issue down the line for a
player who has a significant injury history dating back to his years at
It will be tough for Linehan to ease up the workload right now, though,
because it’s tough to move away from the hot hand.
A big part of Murray’s success has been his dominant offensive line,
highlighted by three former first-round picks, left tackle Tyron Smith, center
Travis Frederick and rookie right guard Zack Martin.
Murray gave each of his starting linemen $1,300 iMac computers this week after
breaking Brown’s record.
“That just shows how much respect he has for us, how much he appreciates us,
so it’s a great gift,” left guard Ronald Leary told the The Fort Worth Star-
The dominant running game sets up the play-action pass and Romo has plenty of
weapons, starting with Bryant and tight end Jason Witten as well as emerging
stars Terrance Williams and Escobar.
Washington’s strength has been on the defensive side of the ball where
Gruden’s club ranks sixth overall and third in the NFC, allowing 321.9 yards
per game. The Redskins are farther down the list against the run, however,
although still a respectable 12th, surrendering 103.3 ypg.
The unit took a major hit against the Titans when linebacker Brian Orakpo went
down with a season-ending pectoral injury, the second straight year a torn pec
ended Orakpo’s season prematurely.
Offensively the Redskins are also impressive on paper, third in the
conference with 389.4 ypg but the issue has been turnovers and a minus-nine
ratio is what sent Cousins to the bench.
Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has been getting it done with few
stars and his group is also helped by the time of possession edge the Cowboys’
running game usually produces.
Adding a QB to the mix in McCoy who hasn’t started in 1,054 days also won’t
“I am really just trying to get a grasp of what they do, how they play,” McCoy
said of the Cowboys. “They have beaten a lot of good teams, a lot of good
quarterbacks. So, we obviously know that this is a huge task for us as an
Gruden also wants to at least keep Griffin in the Cowboys’ thoughts.
“He’s been cleared to do just about everything,” the coach said of RG3. “It’s
just a matter of now that’s he’s doing everything, continuing his rehab,
how’s he feeling? How’s it holding up? All that good stuff.”
The Cowboys have too many weapons on offense to lose anything other than a
shootout and Washington loses the ability to push the football down the field
when they make the move from Cousins to McCoy.
So, even if Colt can clean up the turnover issues, this is not the type of
matchup where that will make a discernable difference.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Cowboys 33, Redskins 16