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Cowboys @ Washington: Catching Up With Dallas' Division Rival

Washington is having a terrible season, but they do have a win over the Cowboys.

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While the Dallas Cowboys season has gone better than expected, the same can't be said for Washington. The team is struggling badly, leading to a 4-11 record heading into the season finale with the Cowboys. Let's get a sense of what is going on in Washington.

Robert Griffin, III has been reinserted as the starting quarterback after the injury to Colt McCoyHe will play this week despite an injury to his shoulder.

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's right shoulder responded well to a day of rest, making him probable for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Griffin was a full participant in practice Friday, two days after he was limited because of soreness in his throwing shoulder.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said they had planned to remove Griffin in Friday's practice if he felt any soreness. But that never happened. Gruden also said they'd re-evaluate Griffin Saturday morning just to make sure his shoulder is OK.

One of the big hopes for Washington this year was that the addition of DeSean Jackson would make the offense very dangerous. Jackson has done his part, it's the quarterbacks that have failed him.

Whether [DeSean] Jackson gets the ball or not, he gets open deep three to four times a game but QB performance has been the only thing to slow him down. Add in the fact that [Robert] Griffin has been in and out of the lineup and you have a prescription for disappointment. Against the Eagles though, the "blackjack" combo of Griffin (10) and Jackson (11) were able to hook up on a few big plays against Jackson's former team.

Head over to this page at Hogs Haven for a detailed breakdown of how it happened.

This may be the last time we see a certain "Cowboys-killer" in a Washington uniform.

WR Santana Moss: He’s 35 and hasn’t had much of a role this season, with only seven catches. If this is the end, he’ll exit as having been one of the best professionals to play for Washington. Always respectful and just did his job, even when it was something he didn’t like (as when he was moved to the slot a few years ago).

There are many games where I can still picture Moss running free behind our safeties.

On defense, Washington is really banged up.

Washington’s depleted lineup on defense means Jay Gruden and his assistants will get an extended look at many of the team’s young and inexperienced players in Sunday’s finale. For many of them, it will be their best (and potentially last) opportunity to prove they’re deserving of a place in the team’s future plans, even if it's as a reserve or special teamer.

"Huge opportunity," Gruden said this week. "For those young guys, Trevardo [Williams], Jackson Jeffcoat, Will Compton, who has been playing a lot, [Phillip] Thomas, [Justin] Rogers, we’ve got a lot of guys that are going to get some meaningful reps. So it’s a great opportunity for these guys to showcase what they can do, and for us to evaluate them moving on to next year."

The position to watch Sunday is outside linebacker. After Brian Orakpo was lost for the season, rookie Trent Murphy stepped in. But now Murphy has landed on injured reserve, too, leaving the Redskins with a rotation of Williams, Jeffcoat and Miller to line up opposite veteran Ryan Kerrigan.

Missing from the Redskins lineup is an old friend.

Sure enough, [Jason] Hatcher has been inactive the last two games and likely will be again Sunday against Dallas. Hatcher is listed as doubtful because of an injury to his right knee. Before training camp, Hatcher underwent surgery on his left knee.

The Redskins signed Hatcher to a four-year with $10.5-million guaranteed in the offseason, hoping he would solve the interior pass rush problems. He has recorded 5.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits/pressures – both are second on the team to linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

I loved what Hatcher did for Dallas, but we all knew that Washington overpaid for his services and that the Cowboys were smart not to match. 5.5 sacks is the equivalent of what we've gotten out of Henry Melton at a much cheaper rate.

Washington's defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has been a thorn in Dallas' side. But he may be coaching his last game for Washington.

But the much stronger case is for Haslett being shown the door. This will be his fifth season here and you can’t point to any of his units and say, wow, that was a really good defense there. It’s been a good game here, a strong month or so there but nothing consistent. Check that, the losing has been consistent with double-digit losses in four of those five seasons. After yet another failed season, the defense simply needs a new voice, some different methods, a change in philosophy. It’s broken and it needs to be fixed and it’s obvious that Haslett isn’t the guy to do it. Although it’s far from a sure thing, I believe that Allen will want to let Haslett go and Gruden will not raise a very strong objection.

Fans should realize that Haslett departing would not mean an immediate improvement in the defense. That will take a couple of competent safeties, some reinforcements on the line, preferably younger ones, and players who will not accept missing assignments on the field. There are some on defense who take the extra time needed to watch the film and to know their assignments cold and there are some who do not. A coordinator can only go so far in getting his players spend the after-hours time in the building. They have to want to do it and that’s only partially in the control of the coordinator. A new coordinator would be only the very start of improving the Washington defense.

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