IRVING — The Washington Redskins got off to a terrible start this season. They lost their first three games before finally beating Oakland in Week 4.
“Who is the most flawed team in the NFC East? I stick with the Washington Redskins, and I say that because Robert Griffin is not himself,” said NFL Network analyst Sterling Sharpe. “When he's not himself, they can't score points early.”
The last time the Dallas Cowboys faced the Washington Redskins, it was the season finale on December 30, 2012. The Redskins won 28-18 in Washington, one week before quarterback Robert Griffin III was injured in a playoff game against Seattle.
It’s been a long road back for Griffin but he still has the respect of defenses around the league.
“He's another top five quarterback, so we've got to be ready and prepared — especially since it's a division game, we've really got to win this one,” said Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher.
The word around the league is that Griffin is trying to develop as a pocket passer. That would certainly explain why he's run the ball only 18 times in Washington's first four games.
Add that to the fact that he's coming off another knee surgery, and Griffin appears reluctant to leave the pocket unless he's forced out.
“Yeah, but he'll still run — even as a drop back passer or whatever, or play action passes,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. "If [his receiver is] not open, he'll take off. He's had some big runs, but it wasn't necessarily the option.”
“It probably has something to do with his knee,” said Cowboys defensive end George Selvie. “I don't know the coaching, but he's going to make plays. He's going to try and make plays. That's what he's going to try and do.”
“Well he's certainly coming off that knee injury, there is no question about that," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “He's wearing a brace. You do see him throw the ball from the pocket, but again, he's making plays on the move. He's a dangerous football player; there is no question about that.”
Dangerous enough to worry the Cowboys about facing another top level quarterback.
“He's great,” said Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox. “He's been great since his rookie year, so that's my expectation when he comes into the game... and nothing less.”
And with a long time, heated rivalry between the two teams, nothing can be taken for granted.