Will the Dallas Cowboys offense look to go deep against the Washington Redskins defensive secondary when they play on Thursday night?
One of the areas the Dallas Cowboys have been lacking during their current three-game losing streak has been getting large offensive gains, otherwise known as “chunk” plays. In fact, after posting twenty chunk plays of 20 passing yards or more through the first half of the regular season, Dallas has been only to rack up three such plays during their three-game losing streak.
But that number of chunk plays could dramatically increase against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night. Currently, the Redskins rank 19th in passing defense. And in Week 11, Washington’s defensive secondary allowed New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees to throw for 385 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints were able to get six chunk plays of 20-yards or better through the air against the Redskins.
And one Cowboys insider said he wouldn’t be shocked if Dallas didn’t themselves look deep against Washington’s suspect secondary.
"“There has been a lot of talk about the lack of a downfield passing game for the Cowboys. I would not be one bit surprised to see more of those attempts coming against the Redskins,” wrote football analyst Bryan Broaddus on DallasCowboys.com. “If the protection can hold up against Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, the way the Redskins play in the secondary — especially at safety — should lead to more space for these Cowboys receivers to work.”"
As Broaddus mentions, the biggest obstacle to taking those deep shots down field is pass protection. And with all the injuries currently along the Cowboys offensive line, that’s a big ask. Left tackle Tyron Smith has been playing through back and groin injuries. He was limited in practice all week.
Starting right guard Zack Martin, who is also known as “The President”, suffered a concussion during the Cowboys Thanksgiving loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Although Martin is listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game, he is expected to play.
Finally, starting right tackle La’el Collins could be sidelined against the Redskins due to a back injury that didn’t allow him to practice at all this week. Byron Bell is expected to take his place if Collins isn’t able to play.
With a couple of talented pass rushers screaming off the edge in Kerrigan and Smith, quarterback Dak Prescott may be very pressed for time in the pocket and unable to even look deep. If that’s the case, the Cowboys coaching staff is going to have to do somethings in the gameplan to give Dallas’ receivers time to get open.