Key questions going into Washington’s Week 2 matchup with Dallas

The Redskins have another tough divisional foe in the Dallas Cowboys this week after last week’s 32–27 loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. This week’s matchup will be at home for the Redskins, who are looking to avoid an 0–2 hole to start the season. Here are the team’s biggest questions going into their matchup with the Cowboys.

What can we expect from Adrian Peterson’s return? 

With Derrius Guice now placed on injured reserve after he had surgery to trim a torn meniscus, Washington will once again be turning to Adrian Peterson as its primary back. This comes just a week after leaving Peterson on the inactive list for the team’s season opener, a move that didn’t sit well with Peterson’s teammates. This also comes on the heels of a rather rough comment from Jay Gruden about Peterson, who doesn’t seem to be doing himself any favors with one of the more respected players on the roster. 

Still, Peterson getting a heavy workload isn’t a bad thing. In fact, he was vital in Washington’s victory last season against Dallas in Week 6 when he rushed for 99 yards on 24 carries. Gruden cannot afford to abandon the run game again against another division rival with a strong and balanced defense. Peterson should see around 20 or more carries in his season debut. It will be interesting to see how well the offensive line holds up this week against another really talented front seven. 

Will the Redskins be able to overcome depth issues on the defensive line?  

Washington will be without both Jonathan Allen and Caleb Brantely for their matchup with Dallas, with Brantley being placed on injured reserve, as reported by JP Finlay. They did pick up Treyvon Hester and T.Y. McGill to add depth on the interior, but it’s not yet clear if either sees much time on the field. That leaves Daron Payne, Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis to carry the load. 

The task of stopping Ezekiel Elliott without Allen will be an uphill battle. Washington could commit to stopping the run by consistently loading the box, but that poses an equally difficult challenge for the secondary, who will have to stop a red-hot Dak Prescott coming off a very productive opener against the Giants. What Greg Manusky’s plans are to stop the Cowboys’ offensive attack will be an interesting thing to watch out for this Sunday. 

Can Terry McLaurin repeat his success from Week 1?  

Terry McLaurin was one of the bright spots for Washington’s offense last week, and it’s understandable to have a relatively high level of hope for another big performance this week. Those expectations are definitely warranted, but we first have to see how well the line holds up for Case Keenum. 

Keenum had a relatively clean pocket for most of the game against the Eagles, giving him time to make his reads and go to the open receiver. It could be a different story this week though, meaning McLaurin may have a tougher time getting targets. Still, he’s an electrifying presence, as we saw on his 69-yard touchdown. If Keenum can get him involved early and often, that would bode well for the team’s chances at shocking the Cowboys. 

Is this a must-win game for Jay Gruden? 

It’s hard to know exactly what Dan Snyder is thinking about coach Gruden’s tenure in Washington. Sure, this has definitely felt like a hot-seat situation for Gruden coming into this season, but whether or not Snyder would be willing to fire Gruden during the season is up for debate. 

An 0–2 start against two division rivals wouldn’t be promising for Gruden’s hopes of sticking around, but I personally don’t see it being a death sentence. Stranger things have happened with this franchise though, and a bad enough loss may not sit too well with team brass. 

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