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Scout's Eye: Redskins' Blitz, Murray's Fumbles Among Game Thoughts

  • It was very clear that the Redskins were selling out in this game to bring pressure on Tony Romo before he could get the ball out of his hand, and it worked. In his postgame press conference, Romo spoke of "zero-coverage" blitz. What he means by that is that there was no safety in the middle of the field, and by alignment the Redskins safeties were either on the outside helping with the receivers, over the top of Jason Witten or coming off the edge on a blitz. It's a gambling scheme to play your defense that way because if it doesn't work then you will pay dearly for exposing the middle of the field to routes. Romo spoke of some communication issues in the postgame and that did appear to be the case several times. The one physical mistake that resulted in a sack was the Ryan Kerrigan one right before the half that got home on a twist stunt. 
  • It's hard to fault DeMarco Murray for fumbling the ball when there are so many other times when he is a stud running the ball, in blitz pickup or as a pass receiver out of the backfield. But the reality is that the harder he runs the more we are going to see him put the ball on the ground. We can ask all those questions of Jason Garrett and the staff if they are working with him on ball security, and the answer is always going to be yes. I hate to say this, but this fumbling problem is not going to change because they are not going to be able to change the style in which Murray runs the ball. There is violence in the way he runs, and you do not coach a player that runs with that style to run any other way – it's just a fact. Nobody wants to see Murray put the ball on the ground, but there is also a reason why he is leading the league in rushing, and it's the way he runs the ball.
  • What the Redskins bank on offensively is running the ball with Alfred Morris to set up there boot and play-action games. Morris might not have had huge numbers running the ball, but his runs were timely in the way that he was able to break them off, especially in the second half of this game. I thought that Colt McCoy did exactly what he needed to do to win it. He has always been a quarterback that when provided with weapons around him, much like he has in Morris, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed, he can be very successful. I thought that Jay Gruden put him in some very favorable plays, and he was outstanding in his execution. You can talk all you want about the Redskins defense and the way they played, but the real difference was McCoy and his ability to make all the throws at the most critical points in this game.
  • How about this for a number: The Redskins' Reed, Jackson and Garcon were 17-of-18 on receptions to targets. Hard to play good defensive football when their best players are putting up those kind of numbers.
  • Bad news about the injury to Justin Durant and him potentially being lost for the season. Through the first eight weeks of the schedule you could make a case that he was the best player on the defense, along with Rolando McClain. I expect that Kyle Wilber will be back in the starting lineup with McClain and Bruce Carter. Speaking of Carter, it was strange not to see him more involved in the action. He might have been in a situation where he was concerned about his quad and really didn't cut it loose like we have seen him do before the injury. I am interested to see what happened to him on the film.
  • This was the worst tackling game that this Cowboys defense has played all season. You know it's a bad day when guys like Rolando McClain and Barry Church, who are normally the surest of tacklers, had a couple of misses that resulted in some big gains. Usually when those guys get in space in a one-on-one situation, they are going to bring the ball carriers down. But, there were some problems there during the game.
  • The final game numbers say that Kerrigan had a solid day on the defensive side of the ball for the Redskins. From my seat in the press box, it appeared that the one sack he had was off a twist stunt where Zack Martin and Jermey Parnell were trying to pass it and Martin came off too late to adjust. I know there were several snaps where Parnell was matched up with Kerrigan one-on-one and was able to handle him with a fair amount of success. Where I believe that Kerrigan had his success – and I will check this on Tuesday – was in the running game with some down-the-line plays going to the right where Parnell just couldn't make the cut-off block as consistently as he needed to. Where I had my concerns about Parnell in this game was with Kerrigan and his pass rush, but it appears that he was able to hang in there.
  • Where the Cowboys offensively had been hurting opponents all season has been on third-down conversions. Coming into the game they had been going along at a 57-percent clip, which was first in the league. It might not sound great, numbers-wise, but for the Redskins to hold the Cowboys to just 43 percent for the game was exactly what they needed to do defensively to prevent the Dallas offense from driving the ball on them.
  • When the Cowboys go back and study this game offensively, I am sure that they are going to be disappointed that they didn't get Jason Witten more involved in the game against the Redskins safeties. Witten did have eight targets with five catches, but I just felt like there was more there that they didn't take advantage of. I was not impressed with the way Washington safeties Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark were able to match up coming into this game, and there were several snaps when Witten had more than enough space in his routes. And, when given the opportunity, he was able to make them pay for how they played him. It's a shame that we didn't see it more.[embeddedad0]
  • Say what you want about Brandon Weeden, but with Romo taking every Wednesday off,  Weeden was prepared to step in and take control of this offense when his team needed him the most. He made some confident throws and the magnitude of the situation was not too big. If Romo had been unable to answer the bell, Weeden was ready to do his job, and that is a credit to him for taking full advantage of those weekly reps as the starter.
  • If there was a bright spot against the Redskins it was that this defense continues to do a nice job when there is a turnover by the offense and they have to go on the field and try to rally from that. The Redskins were given two fumbles but got no points off them. The Cowboys came up with a turnover of their own from J.J. Wilcox and then later forced the Redskins to punt.
  • The Orange Nike Shoes will now be retired after a 6 – 1 run. I promise to try and find another pair that will be just as successful.
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