Three Keys For The Cowboys To Win Against Commanders

October 1, 2022
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The Dallas Cowboys have rolled off two straight wins with a backup quarterback which has given fans hope for the season. They are preparing for another big NFC East showdown Sunday against the Washington Commanders.

It’s been a tale of two different stories for both the Cowboys and the Commanders. Dallas lost their starting quarterback Dak Prescott with a thumb injury in a 19-3 blow loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since Cooper Rush took over as the starting quarterback, the Cowboys have beaten the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals and previously undefeated New York Giants.

For Washington, they started the season the right way with a home-opening win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Due to missing key players on defense and the offense having slow starts to the game, the Commanders would suffer losses to the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles. They currently sit at a 1-2 record to start the season after allowing nine sacks in their 24-8 loss to the Eagles.

Dallas’ story has been impressive to ride through the adversity of losing their quarterback and seeing players like Noah Brown and Tyler Smith step up offensively. Washington has struggled to protect Carson Wentz while the new quarterback has had accuracy issues of his own. This feels like this should be a game where Dallas can pull off a third straight win should they continue to play how they have the first three weeks of the season.

First Key: Cowboys Need Cooper Rush To Manage The Game

The impressive start for Cooper Rush has impressed many in the media, in the organization, and within the Cowboys’ fan base. His cool and calm demeanor on and off the field makes him different from other quarterbacks in the league. Nothing seems to bother him as he knows the offense well and knows he can execute it to near perfection. Many lost hope in Rush after his less-than-stellar performance in the preseason. Easy to say he has silenced the doubters.

Rush started with a 2-0 record and hasn’t turned the ball over through a little over two games. He ranks sixth in the league in QBR with 73.3. He’s also added 514 yards passing and two touchdowns and completed over 60% of his passes in both starts this season.

What has made the offense work is Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore trusting Rush to run the offense efficiently. Rush has been in the offense for most of his six-year NFL career, so he knows the ins and outs of the offense. It has resulted in the offense being more of a balanced attack between the pass and run, but Rush has proven that he can run the offense just as well as anyone else.

Second Key: Kellen Moore Must Include Tony Pollard In The Offense

With the change in philosophy with the offense going from a pass heavy to balanced, fans have seen Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard be more involved in the offense. Monday night’s win against the Giants saw both backs having over 70 yards rushing with Pollard surpassing the 100-yard mark. That kind of involvement takes the pressure off the Rush and allows the offense to focus on its strength which is running the ball.

How important is it for Pollard to be involved in the offense enough? The Cowboys have a 14-2 record when Pollard gets at least 12 touches and a 7-0 record when he touches the football more than 15 times. Add another key stat to it that the Cowboys are 4-0 when Pollard rushes for over 100 yards in a game.

Pollard is so dynamic when he has the ball in his hands due to the explosive speed he has. His versatility in catching the ball out of the backfield makes him arguably the most important offensive player on the Cowboys roster, especially with Rush at quarterback. That type of home run-hitting ability is something the Cowboys have been missing in the offense with Elliot being more of an inside runner. Pollard will be needed against the Commanders and should be noted that the more he is involved, the better the offense will perform.

Third Key: Trevon Diggs Must Shutdown Terry McLaurin

Washington’s offensive line has allowed the second most sacks in the NFL through three games with 15 sacks. Their offensive struggles have run through their inability to block upfront which results in slow starts to games. It’s safe to say that the Cowboys’ front seven should be able to apply enough pressure so that won’t be a problem.

One of the most underrated receivers in the NFL comes from the Commanders with “Scary” Terry McLaurin facing off against the Cowboys secondary. McLaurin has gotten better and better every week this season starting the year with 12 receptions for 235 yards and one touchdown. Only one man will be up to the task of covering him: Trevon Diggs.

Not a perfect start to the season for Diggs as he still has a tendency of allowing big plays, but the coverage skills seem to be improved from last season. He’s tied for the league lead in pass deflections with six and sealed their Monday night win against the New York Giants with an interception.

A keynote to make is the Cowboys are the only NFC East team last season to hold McLaurin under 100 yards in two games as he posted 40 yards in their first game and zero yards in their second matchup. This shows that Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn understands how to shut down McLaurin and the job corners like Diggs and Anthony Brown have done against him. Diggs will be the man covering McLaurin for most of the game so if Diggs can win that matchup while the defensive line wins up front, it’ll be a long day for Washington’s offense.