This is the fifth of a 16-part series where Hog Heaven looks at each game on the Washington Redskins 2013 schedule. We are 17 days away from the start of training camp.
Sunday, Oct 6 − BYE
Sunday, Oct 13 – Redskins at Cowboys
Quarterback Match-up: Don’t count us among fans that are dismissive of Tony Romo. The worst that can be said of Romo is that he has not been good enough to lift a flawed team into the playoffs. He is one of the best in the game during regular season. When he is on, he is a top five player.
We are not critical of Jerry Jones for extending Romo’s contract at the market rate for quarterbacks. Perhaps you expected Jones to sign Kevin Kolb or Matt Flynn, or perhaps snatch Matt Hasselbeck before the Colts signed him. Hog Heaven wishes Jones had done that, then in a year or so Romo would be right where we want him – out of the division.
Instead, Jones addressed his Romo problem by clamping down on his coach, Jason Garrett.
Jones complimented Romo as a fine offensive mind. Then the “team” announced that offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, not Garrett, will call plays on game day.
Holy Sherman Lewis, Batman. Romo has more say in forming the game plan that Callahan will call. That can work.
Mike Holmgren took Seattle to the Super Bowl when the Seahawks forced him to choose between his coaching and his GM duties. He chose to coach, as he did in Green Bay. The result was a conference title and Super Bowl appearance.
Garrett may not be happy about it, but this is his chance to specialize as a coaching leader. Anything that makes Garrett better makes Romo better. If Romo can be better, the Cowboys will be the Redskins most dangerous threat to repeating as division champs.
Hog Heaven is not sure when Robert Griffin III will return to action. It will not be tragic if he misses a few early games. If that should be the case, we have already said that the ideal time to start him is this game after the Bye.
Uncertainty about Griffin’s recovery is the only reason why an early Bye works to Washington’s advantage.
We cringe a bit at Griffin’s boast that “we made Cowboys Stadium our home.” Statements like that have a way of coming back at you. Griffin, the kid from Texas, is usually more diplomatic than that.
Maybe all those Redskins fans at Jerryworld confused him.
Bill Callahan vs. Jim Haslett: Callahan does not rank at the top of my list of offensive coordinators, but the man must have some juice with the owner. Callahan is the offensive line coach as well as the OC. The Cowboys selected center Travis Frederick (Wisconsin) as their top 2013 Draft pick.
Dallas needs more from its running game than the 663 yards DeMarco Murray gave them last year. An upgrade at center helps, as long as Murray is healthy and rookie Frederick is up to snuff. It did not help Garrett that Murray missed six games last year.
Hog Heaven believes the Cowboys have the division’s best one-two receiver tandem in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Bryant emerged as a dangerous big receiver in the last half of last season.
Redskins DC Jim Haslett is 3-3 versus the Cowboys. Robert Griffin III is his best defensive weapon. The Redskins simply outscored the Cowboys last season more than the defense beat them. Haslett’s front seven may get the best of Dallas offensive line with the rookie center. Can his secondary with a rookie safety get the best of 6-2, 220 lb. Dez Bryant?
Washington drafted 6-3 CB David Amerson and signed 6-0 CB E.J. Biggers. That can’t be a coincidence. Both Amerson and Biggers give away 30 pounds to Bryant. Rookie safeties Bacarri Rambo (6-1) and Phillip Thomas (6-0) are in the mix for the ‘Skins rebuilt secondary.
Whether Haslett can whip these guys in to a cohesive unit in time for this game is the question. We should not expect a smooth operation by week six. Bryant will have his way.
Kyle Shanahan vs. Monte Kiffin: Can wily old Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 scheme stop an option offense that spreads his defense without going deep on passing plays? Pierre Garcon was magic in motion with his knack for beating press and zone coverage, gain separation and then adding yards after the catch. The Redskins don’t have to throw the ball deep, which the Tampa-2 is intended to prevent anyway. Players like Garcon, Fred Davis and perhaps rookie TE Jordan Reed give Kyle Shanahan options for long gains from short passes.
Kiffin has been in the NFL for a long time. Shanahan can give Robert Griffin III video cut-up’s of old Tampa Bay Buccaneers games to get a sense of Kiffin’s schemes.
Adapting to new schemes of new coaches takes time, often a full season. Cowboys players are new at the Tampa-2. This game promises to be a shoot-out. Big plays are exciting, but the percentages are with the Redskins if they stick to their roots as a running team.
Mr. Shanahan, please keep Tony Romo and Dez Bryant where they belong, on the bench.
Storyline: The Redskins went 5-1 in the division when they surprised the league and won the beast. Washington was 4-6 when they played Dallas last Thanksgiving. We didn’t know the explosion for what it was.
The surprise factor is now lost. The division winner should go 4-2 within the Beast. Washington must sweep a division rival and a split with the other two.
Way too early prediction: Hog Heaven believes the Redskins will split with the Cowboys this year. Jerry Jones’ fixes may not be enough for Dallas to break through. It’s a bit much to expect all his changes to jell for the Cowboys in the first half of the season. Assuming RGIII is at full health and full mobility by this game, I’m calling it for Washington. The next game at FedEx Field will be tougher.
Tomorrow: Chicago at Washington
“Way too early prediction” means we reserve the right to change our minds after we see these teams in preseason games. Look for Hog Heaven’s stake-in-the-ground prediction the week before game one.
This story idea was inspired by the Big Ten Network Tom Dienhart who is running a similar series for the B1G football season.
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