Redskins Gameday: Notes and analysis

  1. Maybe Jay Gruden should not have been surprised by certain aspects of the organization or by the actual rebuild that must take place. But I think he has been, at least to a certain degree. And I think this season will have become one big weeding out period for the first-year coach. They need to bring in players whose reputations haven’t outpaced their actual play and players who have a hunger/desire to do more. I don’t know if, for example, Trent Murphy will be a very good player, but I know he’s constantly working and is hard on himself. And I like the toughness cornerback Bashaud Breeland adds in the secondary; he just has to keep refining his game while also starting before he was ready.

  2. The tough part with rushing Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is containing him, while also being aware of his spin move. Not sure many quarterbacks evade pressure quite like Romo when it comes to spinning to the outside. Seems like he does this every week and it makes it tricky on a pass-rusher. You must rush at his outside shoulder or he will be able to spin away and extend the play. So it will be interesting to see how Murphy deals with this; it's not like Romo didn’t get Brian Orakpo with this move on several occasions. But it’s new to Murphy. Here are other lessons Murphy has learned or is still learning.

  3. It will be interesting to see how the Redskins use their outside linebackers. Would they use Ryan Kerrigan on the right side? But if you do that Monday, you end up putting your best rusher against a Pro Bowler such as Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith. If Kerrigan stays on the left side, he would be facing a backup right tackle in Jermey Parnell (who is coming off a good game). Just something to consider. But Kerrigan's play against the run matters here, too. Murphy is still adjusting here, and you don't want it to be a mismatch on early downs.

  4. Wrote this last week, too, but it bears repeating: The coaching staff still likes quarterback Kirk Cousins. Some of the throws he has made in recent weeks suggests to them he can be a quality starter in the NFL. The problem is, some of the other throws -- the interceptions -- have been so bad that the staff doesn't know if he will reach that point. Or, at the least, they know those interceptions must change before he can get there; yes, that’s obvious. But the point remains: They still see value in him.

  5. And, yes, they are committed to trying to develop quarterback Robert Griffin III. That is what Gruden was brought here to do, after all. It’s also clear that every Sunday, quarterbacks make off-scheduled plays that result in big gains or touchdowns.

  6. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, for example, doesn’t always throw in rhythm, etc. But his ability to extend plays powers that offense bigtime. Same with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (especially in the red zone). Maybe Griffin never quite runs the offense exactly the way the coaches would like or throws in rhythm all the time, but if he makes good decisions on the move then it more than compensates. Griffin still has to prove himself in this area. He has extended plays and sometimes big ones result, but the decisions have been inconsistent. Growing pains? That is the hope.

  7. The tricky part for Washington’s defense Monday night is how committed will they be to stopping the run. The best way to stop it would be to use eight in the box, but that would leave a secondary exposed against a top passing offense. Stopping it with seven is ideal, but difficult. This is the reason Washington’s offense needs to convert in two important areas: third down and the red zone. You can’t just control the ball against Dallas, you must score touchdowns.

  8. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on Dallas running back DeMarco Murray: "He’s doing a nice job and you see a difference in his running style, but the line is opening gaping holes for him. He runs hard. He’s physical. He’s been outstanding. He’s fun to watch -- I don’t know about playing against him."

  9. Haslett said he is impressed how Dallas uses its personnel, especially backups such as receivers Terrence Williams (a big-play guy) and Cole Beasley (a nuisance on short routes). But the player who makes it go is Romo. "I’ve been a fan of his a long time," Haslett said. "He does so much for the team, extending plays and seeing things. He does everything. He can run and make all the throws."