Commanders making Cowboys look silly with John Ridgeway claim
By Jerry Trotta
Much like the Washington Commanders, the Dallas Cowboys received widespread criticism for their offseason. At the time, the criticism was justified because almost none of their moves made sense, including trading Amari Cooper (which still looks like a poor decision) and letting Randy Gregory and La’el Collins leave.
In annoying fashion, it’s Jerry Jones who’s getting the last laugh, as the Cowboys enter Week 9 with a 6-2 record. They went 4-1 without Dak Prescott and Dan Quinn’s defense has morphed into one of the league’s elite. The catalyst for Dallas’ defensive surge has been its defensive line, which hasn’t missed Gregory all that much.
While the Cowboys are reaping the benefits of boasting incredible defensive line depth, their sheer number of capable bodies forced them into waiving fifth-round rookie John Ridgeway, who was swiftly claimed by the Commanders.
Is Dallas missing Ridgeway? Probably not. After all, they just released another interior defender: 2019 second-round pick Trysten Hill.
The Commanders are a different story. Some would even say they’re luxuriating from the pickup, as Ridgeway has stepped into a significant role behind Jon Allen and Daron Payne and is quickly becoming a key piece of Washington’s defensive line.
Check out this quote from Jack Del Rio.
Commanders reaping the benefits of claiming former Cowboys DL John Ridgeway.
Ridgeway’s impact goes beyond the numbers.
Though the Arkansas product has just five tackles over six games, he’s been a menace when the Commanders deploy five defensive linemen — a common look with Cole Holcomb out of the lineup. The 321-pounder consumes double teams, allowing his teammates to exploit more gaps. He’s had a particular positive effect on the linebackers, including the ever-improving Jamin Davis.
In many ways, Ridgeway’s coming out party came in the Week 8 win over Indianapolis. After logging his second most snaps on the season (25), Ridgeway ranked No. 14 in Pro Football Focus’ top 15 highest-graded rookies. The former Razorback tallied three run stops and finished with a 72.3 player grade.
The Commanders conceded a couple big runs against the Colts, with Jonathan Taylor, Parris Campbell and Nyheim Hines logging carries of 27, 28 and nine. If you discount the two 20-yarders, though, Washington bottled up Indy’s prolific rushing attack to the tune of less than 3.0 yards per carry on 27 attempts.
That’s not to say Ridgeway deserves all the credit for that, but he undoubtedly deserves more playing time after that performance.
Again, the Cowboys don’t miss Ridgeway all that much with Osa Odighizuwa, Jonathan Hankins, Quinton Bohanna, Carlos Watkins and Neville Gallimore forming a formidable rotation of interior defenders, but we can’t help thinking that their 25th-ranked run defense would be better if they simply kept Ridgeway.
You know what they say — you snooze, you lose — and the Commanders are reaping the fruits of Dallas’ decision to waive Ridgeway.