IRVING, Texas – We saw exactly what the Redskins are capable of back at Halloween, when they ruined the Cowboys' six-game winning streak. If that isn't reminder enough, Washington also beat a good Philadelphia team to open the door for Dallas to clinch the division.
All three of the guys below hurt the Cowboys during the first matchup, so I'm taking an in-depth look as we prepare for the rematch.
Weapon: DeSean Jackson, WR
The first time these two teams met, in late October, it was Jackson that hit this Cowboys defense down the field for two huge plays. I expect that Jay Gruden will once again test this secondary with his speedy wide out.
What I have noticed in studying the Redskins tape from the last several weeks is that, with Robert Griffin III as the quarterback, there has been more of a willingness by Gruden to air the ball out with him at the controls. Early in the game last week against the Eagles, it was Griffin to Jackson that got their offense started.
What makes Jackson so dangerous is not only his vertical speed, but also his ability to track the ball in flight and adjust his body in a manor to make the reception. Where this Cowboys defense must also beware of Jackson is how Gruden likes to use him in the quick screen game. For Gruden, it is all about making Griffin feel as comfortable as possible, and it is with these easy throws to guys like Jackson that makes his job very easy.
Look for Jackson to line up all over the formation on Sunday, which means that he will see all of the Cowboys corners -- unless Rod Marinelli decides to put Orlando Scandrick on him full time, which is something that we have seen from this staff and their willingness to keep speed on speed. The two deep passes that Jackson caught were on Carr and Moore, so that might be their answer.
Nemesis: Alfred Morris, RB
If there was a back that was built to play on a chopped up field in a physical game, it would be Alfred Morris. The numbers have not been great, but that should not be a reflection on Morris and his ability, because the Redskins have had their share of problems along the offensive and at quarterback -- which has hurt him.
Last week against the Eagles, I thought it was more of the Alfred Morris that we had seen in the past with that ability to take the ball and run through tackles. The Redskins' first touchdown was scored in just that way. Nobody in the Eagles secondary wanted to tackle him, and that is usually a problem that he presents. His game against a very good 49ers front seven was similar in that way. Nobody wants to get in front of him when he starts that ball down the hill.
The challenge for the Cowboys defensively is not to allow Morris to get going. It is clear that Jay Gruden wants to help Griffin manage the game better, and he can do this by having Morris hammer the ball at opponents. It is an understatement to say this, but how well the Cowboys tackle in this game -- especially against Morris -- will dictate how well they are able to play on defense.
Under The Radar: Bashaud Breeland, CB
It is funny how there are times where, as a scout, you are so confident that there is a match up you are positive you are going to find a way to take advantage of, but as the game plays out, it has you shaking your head in disbelief.
I was willing to wager any amount of lunches that Dez Bryant was going to dominate this Redskins secondary on that Monday night, but that just wasn't the case. As a group you have to give them a great deal of credit in the way they were able to handle this Cowboys receiving corps -- especially the way that Bashaud Breeland played.
In studying him at Clemson before the 2014 NFL Draft, I thought his strength was his ability to play as a press man corner. He showed the ability to play with his hands at the line to control the receiver, but he was also fluid enough to put himself in position in the route and maintain position, which he was able to do against these receivers. I was impressed with how he was able to defend Dez Bryant by not allowing him much space at all.
Of all the corners that Bryant has faced this season, Breeland and Patrick Peterson gave him the most trouble. I don't know how much Bryant will play on Sunday, but I promise he knows what he is facing now when Breeland lines up across from him.