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Evaluating the Washington offense ahead of week seven’s NFC East showdown with the Cowboys

Will the Cowboys defense continue to struggle against the Washington offense Sunday?

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Football Team’s offense is bad. The Cowboys defense might be worse. A moveable object meets a stoppable force. We’re in for a treat on Sunday, and it isn’t going to be a treat any of us enjoy.

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the Giants offense heading into the Cowboys week five matchup versus New York. A lot of the same things we wrote that week we will talk about again today. It all starts with the struggles at quarterback, and the ability to move the football successfully through the air. The Washington Football Team’s offense is near the bottom of the league in just about every advanced metric we can look at.

It currently ranks 31st in EPA per play, 30th in success rate, 31st in dropback EPA, and 31st in dropback success rate. Believe it or not, the WFT’s been pretty successful running the football, ranking 15th in rushing EPA and 20th in rushing success rate. Which should be what the Cowboys look to focus on on defense come Sunday. Washington’s running back-by-committee approach has been led by Antonio Gibson, who has seen 64 carries for 243 yards, and three touchdowns. Veterans J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber have split the RB2 carries almost evenly with McKissic out-carrying Barber by one carry through six weeks. As a committee, Washington has averaged 3.3 yards per carry, and while it hasn’t been easy going, they have a tendency to stick with the running game throughout a game.

The passing game for Washington has been a complete, utter disaster from week one to week six. After benching second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins after just four starts, Kyle Allen has taken over as the teams starting quarterback and has continued to struggle. In his two starts, Allen has played slightly better than Haskins, but moving the football through the air has continued to be a struggle for Washington. Similar to Daniel Jones from a few weeks ago, Allen and Haskins have a tendency to turn the football over and take sacks that put their offense behind the chains far too often. To make matters worse for the Washington offense, their offensive line has struggled throughout the year and it doesn’t look like it will get any better before kickoff on Sunday.

Through six weeks, Washington ranks 25th in Pass Block Win Rate, and ranks 12th in Run Block Win Rate, which should be of concern to the Cowboys defense, who has been gashed on the ground so far in 2020. There is hope, for yet another week, that the Cowboys pass rush will finally get going and be able to take advantage of a poor pass-blocking team, but that has yet to happen so far in 2020 for Mike Nolan’s defense.

Last but not least, we have the only real threat on the Football Team’s offense... Scary Terry.

Los Angeles Rams v Washington Football Team Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

While the name Terry McLaurin doesn’t quite ring like DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, or Odell Beckham Jr., his play on the field is just as good, and he poses just as big as a threat as any of the big named wideouts the Cowboys defense has faced so far in 2020.

McLaurin leads the team in receptions (36), yards (487), and is one of the better route-runners the Cowboys defense will face in 2020. The Cowboys best chance at limiting the Washington offense is to have Trevon Diggs shadow Terry McLaurin, similar to what they did with DeAndre Hopkins in week six. Thankfully, the Washington offense doesn’t have the likes of Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds, and Andy Isabella lined up beside McLaurin, so the Cowboys best chance of success in week seven is to put the best defensive player on McLaurin and try to limit his impact on the game. It’s a risky plan, but the odds are more in your favor taking that risk, than having the second-year wideout lineup against Daryl Worley or Jourdan Lewis in man coverage.

The Cowboys defense has been dreadful for the majority of the season, and have a very favorable matchup in week seven. For folks still hoping to win the NFC East and make the playoffs, this is one of the few games left on the schedule that gives the Cowboys defense a chance to be successful on their side of the ball. For team tank, it may not matter with how poorly this defense has played, and how bad the offense looked in week six against a significantly worse defense in Arizona, then they’ll face this Sunday in Washington.

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