We….we did it, we finally did it.
In what’s felt like forever (approximately two years and four days to be exact, but who’s counting), the Washington Football Team has defeated the Dallas Cowboys. I feel like we should be throwing a parade every time this happens because we get to experience it so few times. The last time we’d beaten this team, Alex Smith was still healthy and the refs rewarded us with a still hilarious 5-yard snap infraction that helped kicker Brett Maher miss a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Think about it this way. Since the 2010-11 season (yes the one with McNabb under center), Washington has had a 6-14 record against Jerry Jones’ team. Is it even still a rivalry at this point? Barely, but we won in dominant fashion this time with a 25-3 shallacking of a Cowboys team that is somehow in an even worse position than us. They are seriously down in the dumps right now. I haven’t seen a defense that bad in some time and I had to witness the era of Joe Barry.
Still, Washington isn’t a very good team either so I could really care less about how bad a situation it is over in Dallas. I’ll take this win and I’ll cherish it just like I cherish all those other wins hidden amongst the field of embarrassing and downright awful losses we’ve suffered at the hands of this team.
We are now tied with Dallas for second in the division at 2-5 and just half a game back from the division lead held by the Eagles at 2-4-1 (you can laugh now) so all that stuff I said about kicking this team to the curb and selling off assets seems to not really be a thing anymore I guess? We’ll get into that a little later, but let’s first talk about the game itself.
The front seven carried the defense
It’s been a while since we’ve seen this front seven really shine, but they came into this game with a golden opportunity to cause some chaos against a Cowboys line that has been decimated by injuries. Starters Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are both out for the year, center Joe Looney is currently on injured reserve and All-Pro guard Zack Martin was out with a concussion. That left this group with its third starting left tackle of the season in Cam Erving, who hasn’t been available since the season opener, one quality starter in Connor Williams and a whole plethora of inexperienced pros who were absolutely thrown in the fire because the team had no other option but to play them.
There was no reason for Washington to not dominate this matchup in the trenches. They ended up delivering by recording six sacks, eight quarterback hits and holding the run game to just 83 total yards. Montez Sweat led the way with two sacks of his own, but everyone on the line pretty much had a great outing.
Even Cole Holcomb stepped up with his second career sack by absolutely leveling Ezekiel Elliot in pass protection on one of the more explosive plays of the day. Holcomb was one of the best players on the field on Sunday, constantly making plays around the ball and showing off his insane athleticism for really the first time in the three games he’s played. He ended up getting a season-high 39 snaps on the field last Sunday and finishing with five tackles and an interception on a head-up play off a blunder of a drop by Elliot. I think we’ll start seeing him out there a heck of a lot more from here on out.
The constant pressure also created a trickle down effect that led to a great outing from the secondary as well. As we’re well aware with our own offensive line woes this season, bad pass protection can pretty much destroy any game plan you had set up for a matchup and for Dallas it was no different. They simply could not get anything going down the field with their line, which ended up neutralizing a bunch of their best weapons.
Both Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb have proven to be effective young talents this season, but neither recorded a single catch on a combined seven targets. Credit obviously has to go to the corners out there covering them, but even if one of them got some space, Andy Dalton probably wasn’t going to have time to see it. This is the kind of thing I was expecting with this defense this season and I guess it took playing a team as bad as Dallas for us to see it actually happen. It’d be nice to see that against other teams too though, just saying.
The offense played mistake-free football (finally)
I have a lot of praise that I’m ready to start chucking all over the place like I’m Rex Grossman, but I would be remiss if I didn’t start with the change-ups to the offensive line headlined by Cornelius Lucas and Wes Schweitzer taking over the left side for an injured Geron Christian and a terrible Wes Martin. Those two really stepped up and made this line look pretty decent for the first time in a while.
I know Mike Nolan’s defense has been historically bad, but I’ll take what I can get. Besides two sacks, they kept the pocket mostly clean for Kyle Allen, who had a fairly productive day with 198 yards passing and two touchdown passes with zero back-breaking mistakes or turnovers. If you can make that guy look above-average because he has all day to make a decision, then you’re doing your job.
The line’s performance opened everything up for this offense and finally allowed us to see what it can do when there’s time and space to make plays. The running game was great for the first time this season, and Antonio Gibson recorded his (and the team’s) first 100-yard rushing performance of the season.
His 66 first-quarter rushing yards was the most any runner has had for this team in an entire game this season. This was the first time we really got to see Gibson have some help on the line and he flourished because of it. I think he’s been a pretty underrated rookie this year and I think his 128-yard performance is finally starting to get people to notice.
In the passing game, ole reliable Terry McLaurin led the way along with Logan Thomas to account for 77% of the team’s passing yards. Thomas has been a welcome surprise on this team, and he ended up having his best performance of the season that was capped off by one really impressive 50/50 ball and a touchdown that saw him fight off tacklers and cruise into the endzone late in the second quarter.
McLaurin had easily the best play of the day, and maybe even the season, when he responded to some trash talk from rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs by literally waltzing right past him for a 52-yard touchdown. He seriously just ran straight past him; McLaurin had about three yards of space between him and Diggs as he caught the ball and proceeded to keep egging the young corner on with his touchdown celebration. It was hilarious.
McLaurin also came off like a legit leader in the locker room after the game with this postgame speech:
Put a damn C on that man’s jersey already. I would take a bullet for this dude.
It’s time to talk about Jon Bostic
I’ll keep this portion short because really this doesn’t need much of an explanation. Jon Bostic should be suspended, plain and simple. His hit on Dalton was an egregious example of why we have the rules in place that we do to keep players safe. Yeah he got ejected, but that’s just not enough. That was a Burfictian assault on the ball carrier that shouldn’t be allowed in this game.
That was just a dirty play and we should be seeing Shaun Dion Hamilton out there starting the next few games rather than Bostic because there is no excuse for that. How the league didn’t suspend him is beyond me.
Where do we stand at the bye week?
Washington is entering its bye week in a very peculiar position.
On one hand, they’re a 2-5 team that very clearly has holes that can’t be filled until the offseason that have greatly impacted this team’s results. They’re in position to get a top-10 pick, maybe even higher, if they continue at the pace that they’re at which would be big for them considering their two biggest needs are on the offensive line and under center. This draft has plenty of promising quarterback and tackle options that would be huge additions for this team.
On the other hand, they’re a 2-5 team that very clearly has holes that can’t be filled until the offseason, but they’re just a half game back from taking the division and stumbling into a playoff game at home for the first time since 2015. So what do we do and how does this affect how this team goes into the trade deadline?
The trade deadline is set for Nov. 3 which means we have to determine if being in the playoff hunt at 2-5 with the 1-6 Giants up next on the schedule is enough to convince this team to be buyers rather than sellers at the deadline.
As sellers, we have a handful of players on this roster that could net a few decent draft picks that we could stockpile for the upcoming draft. Ryan Kerrigan, Brandon Scherff, Ryan Anderson and Dwayne Haskins are all players that come to mind with some form of trade value that could help us out.
As buyers, there is a ton of buzz surrounding some seriously talented players at positions of need that we could probably afford. Wide receivers like Will Fuller, John Ross, Adam Thielen, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are all players that have a chance to be moved to teams with draft capital. On the offensive line, guys like Joe Thuney, Riley Reiff and Kevin Zeitler have some buzz around their trade value as well.
There are guys that could both help right away and in the near future that Washington could potentially go for if they really wanted to. Washington has four picks in the first three rounds this year so they can certainly make a move if they felt they needed to.
My take? Do a little of both.
A guy like Haskins is good as gone as soon as a team offers up some draft pick for him, and Ryan Anderson has only had more than 25 snaps just twice this season so it feels like they may find a trade partner for him rather than keep him on the roster. With the extra draft capital from those trades, I think Rivera and Co. will feel more comfortable spending one or both of their third-round picks on acquiring someone in a contract year that could help right away and that they could lock up long-term in the offseason. Marvin Jones and Will Fuller both come to mind as quality wideouts that would compliment McLaurin and give us a stable No. 2 option for the next few years. That’s just how I’m approaching it though, I’m not really sure what this team has in mind for the deadline.
I guess we’ll find out what happens on Tuesday afternoon when the deadline is up. I’m actually really curious as to what this team ends up doing. But while we wait, we’ll at least get to enjoy some football that’s free of worry for a week. I love having time to just throw NFL Redzone on to watch football for the fun of it rather than complain and worry about my own team’s situation. Enjoy the bye week everyone and happy Halloween! I’ll see you for Week 9 when we go up against the New York Giants.