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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Redskins Preparing For 'Relentless' Dallas Defense

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Redskins expecting a hard-hitting matchup with a "relentless" Cowboys' defense; Why the Cowboys shouldn't rest their starters; Jason Garrett for Coach of the Year?

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Redskins Ready For 'Relentless' Dallas Defense - Redskins.com
The Washington Redskins enter the final game of the season prepared for what should be a hard-hitting matchup with a "relentless" Dallas Cowboys' defense.

As he broke down film to prepare for Sunday's game at FedExField, Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that the Cowboys have a "real sound" defense that plays their own game, and plays it well.

"Coach Marinelli does a great job getting those guys to play hard," he said. "Don’t do a lot, but what they do, they do extremely well. They’ve got a bunch of guys on that side of the football that pursue and play really hard. They’re a good defense."

Redskins fullback Darrel Young believes that this is a defense that doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

"They make plays. They just make plays," he said. "People look at their defense and say that they’re not good, but they’re a really good team. The D-ends are stepping up. Guys are making plays when they’re supposed to. They’re relentless and they run to the ball."

To echo his teammate, tight end Logan Paulsen believes that the Cowboys are one of the better team defenses in the NFL.

"They’re just a really good group of guys that play really hard and play really well together," he said. "That’s a rare combination in the NFL, so it presents its own set of unique challenges."

Three very good reasons Cowboys should not be resting starters vs. Redskins | Tim Cowlishaw, DMN
A 12-4 record, Murray's possible franchise record, and because there's still the (remote) possibility of a getting a bye week.

Redskins Prepare For Cowboys Starters On Sunday - Redskins.com
With a playoff spot already clinched, the Cowboys say they will still play their starters, and the Redskins feel they are going to be ready for the Cowboys' best shot.

"You prepare for the Cowboys and you expect to play their best," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said earlier this week. "You expect Dez Bryant and Tony Romo. You expect DeMarco Murray, you expect all their guys and they have got a lot of them."

Rolando McClain Ruled Out Of Sunday's Game With Washington - Blogging The Boys
McClain has been ruled out of Sunday’s regular season finale due to illness, the Cowboys announced Saturday.

Washington Redskins place Jason Hatcher on IR - ESPN
A frustrating season for the veteran defensive lineman ends as the Redskins put Jason Hatcher on the injured reserve list.

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How Jason Garrett led Cowboys the 'right way,' became coach of the year candidate | David Moore, DMN
Jason Garrett will climb into third place on the franchise’s list of most coaching victories (behind only Landry and Johnson) if the Cowboys beat Washington this afternoon. Moore makes a case for why Garrett is a strong Coach of the Year candidate.

The Cowboys are about to return to the playoffs for the first time in five years. The philosophical and structural seeds Garrett planted upon taking over midway through the 2010 season have taken root and made him a strong candidate for NFL Coach of the Year.

"Jason has taken a team that outsiders believed would be lucky to be 8-8 and turned it into the NFC East champion and a Super Bowl contender,’’ Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said. "He deserves any recognition that comes his way.’’

Jeremy Mincey: The plot behind Jason Garrett's Gatorade shower | DMN
Mincey recently talked with KRLD-FM 105.3 about giving Jason Garrett a Gatorade shower:

Actually, one of the trainers tapped me ... he was like, 'Hey, somebody go get the Gatorade and dump it on him.' I went and grabbed Tony and told Tony, 'Let's go ahead and dump it on coach Garrett.' He deserves it man. The smile on his face ... it was a face to remember. I'm so proud of him. He's been through so much ridicule. People said a lot of bad things about him. But he's a great guy.

Predicting the 2014 N.F.L. Award Winners - Chase Stuart, NYTimes.com
Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com fame runs through his candidates for postseason awards (which includes DeMarco Murray as the Offensive Player of the Year) and explains why he thinks Bruce Arians will win the Coach of the Year award ahead of Jason Garrett:

In many other years, Jason Garrett would be an excellent choice. For three straight years, the Dallas Cowboys went 8-8, and 2014 projected to be a step back for the team. But Garrett has done a masterly job reconstructing the team’s offense while selecting Rod Marinelli to guide the Dallas defense. On offense, the Cowboys rank in the top five in both yards per carry and net yards per attempt.

But Arians has taken Arizona to the postseason despite losing many key players. The team lost its starting two inside linebackers in the off-season (Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington), then lost Darnell Dockett and John Abraham to injuries by the end of Week 1. On offense, the team has lost quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to injuries, and starting running back Andre Ellington is out for the year. Despite all the losses, Arians kept the Cardinals in the pole position in the N.F.C., at least until Sunday.

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Twitter mailbag: Defensive line needs - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
The playoffs may be just around the corner, but that doesn't mean you're automatically an Eagles fan if you start talking about the draft. Archer answers a mailbag question about the need to use a high picks on another edge rusher.

There is no doubt the Cowboys should do this. I think defensive line is the top need going into 2015 and I say that understanding the possibility that Brandon Carr might not be back and Morris Claiborne is coming back from a serious knee injury. Pressure makes defenses. The Cowboys need to find catalytic players, as Bill Parcells called them. I'm not sure DeMarcus Lawrence is that guy just yet, but I think he is coming off a pretty good game against Indianapolis.

Todd McShay's first mock draft had the Cowboys taking a cornerback. That's a decent idea and the top pass rushers might be off the board by the time the Cowboys pick, but they need to do something to help the defensive line early and often in the draft.

Updating Cowboys' 46-man projection - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer takes a stab at predicting the gameday inactives, and writes that with McClain out, Henry Melton looks to be safe, even though that means the Cowboys will carry nine defensive linemen, as Josh Brent is expected back.

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Lions could be Cowboys' first-round opponent - Advanced Football Analytics
Sterling Xie does his weekly Team efficiency rankings and takes a look ahead at a potential Cowboys Lions wildcard game.

Matthew Stafford's statistical decline has drawn much of the attention, and the questions about Detroit's offensive ceiling are probably legitimate. The Lions will most likely play every playoff game away from Ford Field. I'd have to do a more comprehensive study to quantify this, but it would hardly be surprising if Detroit experienced the most disparate offensive location splits of any team this season:

Colts hold players meeting after ugly loss to Cowboys - Yahoo Sports
The Cowboys have clearly had an effect on their opponents this year. The Cowboys' 2014 opponents are 9-5 in games immediately before playing the Cowboys and 2-12 in games immediately after playing the Cowboys. For the Colts, this fact occasioned a players only meeting.

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NFL Week 17 Picks | Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report
After writing gigs at Football Outsiders and Sports On Earth, Tanier now writes for Bleacher Report. No reason not to read his stuff anymore. Here he is in a hypothetical discussion with what I can only imagine is an Eagles fan:

Boy, Tony Romo looks like a whole different quarterback this year, doesn't he?

He sure does. He has thrown 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions this year. There is no way to compare those numbers to the 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions he threw last year and in 2011.

C'mon, man, stop being sarcastic. You have to admit that his statistics are much better this year.

They are better: a higher completion rate, higher touchdown rate, more yards per attempt. But the difference is quantitative, not qualitative. They are still recognizably Romo stats, and an improved offensive line and supporting cast easily explains the difference.

But he's not choking, man!

If Romo threw three touchdowns last year, he might still lose 31-30 or 45-28, even if he didn't throw an interception. If he threw five touchdowns, he might still need a fourth-quarter drive to win, and one interception in a 51-48 loss to the Broncos would be his "choke."

This year, if he throws three or four touchdowns, the defense is good enough to keep 41-28 or 38-27 wins out of reach. Romo's improvement is about 96 percent an illusion caused by an improved Cowboys team and the false perceptions from the past.

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Brennan Clay apologizes and says his wife did not sleep with ex-teammate | Daily Mail Online
I looked long and hard for an ESPN (or any other major news ooutlet) headline about this, but ended up having to go with a UK-based publication. All that stuff about DeMarco Murray having an affair with Clay's wife? Forget about it.

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Get your picks in for the BTB Pick 256 Challenge season finale!

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You have until kickoff on Sunday to submit your picks, but why let time go a wastin? Here's the link to the entry form.

If the link above doesn't work for whatever reason, use the following alternative, which does not autofill your BTB user name into the entry form.

Alternative Pick 256 Entry Form

As of this morning, we already had 221 votes logged. In early voting, the Cowboys are favored over the Redskins, with 96% of the picks coming in for the Cowboys, while 75% are taking the Giants over the Eagles in other NFC East action.