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Saturday, September 11, 2010
Grudge Match: Cowboys-Redskins

By Bryan Broaddus



*Redskins LT Trent Williams vs. Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware: I have to admit that I have been impressed with Trent Williams and what he has done in the preseason for the Redskins, considering that he is just a rookie.

Williams is a nice fit in the type of offensive scheme that Mike Shanahan likes to run. He is athletic and mobile, which helps him on the front-side reach or the back-side cutoff blocks. Williams does a nice job of fitting on his man, working his hands and feet together to keep his man from the ball.

But Williams struggled some in two areas against Terrell Suggs of the Ravens. Suggs is an explosive pass rusher with outstanding first-step quickness and strength in the upper body. As mentioned, Williams can run his man up the field, but where Suggs was able to get him was with power. Williams is strong, but he doesn’t have that type of strength where he can just sit down on his man and stop him in tracks.

Ware will give you all kinds of pass rush moves, plus he is very good at playing with his hands in the running game. The Redskins in the preseason did keep Cooley and Davis in to help in protection, but it wasn’t to Williams’ side. If Williams struggles early in this game, I can see some adjustments being made there.

*Cowboys run defense vs. Redskins stretch play: Mike Shanahan has always been able to run the football during tenure with the Denver Broncos because of the use of the stretch play and the scheme problems it presents for the opposing defense.

The stretch allows the running back to press front side then make a cut when he finds the hole. On the backside of the play, the defensive linemen and linebackers have to deal with offensive linemen diving into their legs. Defenders having to use their hands to fight off blocks are not looking for the back coming through the hole, thus getting the back into the second level.

The Cowboys played a team in preseason that is very similar to what the Redskins are trying to do scheme wise in the Houston Texans. who had some success running the football ones vs. ones.

What the Redskins want to do is get the running game going with Clinton Portis then use Donovan McNabb on boots and waggles off play-action to set up plays down the field to Santana Moss or Chris Cooley. The Cowboys can match up better is with the return of Marcus Spears and Keith Brooking to the lineup. Both are nice run defenders and could give the defense a real boost.

*Tight Ends vs. Safeties: Both the Cowboys and Redskins have outstanding tight ends on their squads. Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett for the Cowboys and Chris Cooley, Fred Davis for the Redskins.

Witten and Cooley are playmakers. They are match up nightmares for defensive coordinators because of their ability to consistently catch the football. Witten is faster than Cooley, but Cooley does a nice job of finding space in the secondary.

Throughout the preseason, Redskins’ quarterback Donovan McNabb had already developed a connection with Cooley, along with receiver Santana Moss as his go-to guys.

Davis is the backup to Cooley and he will line up all over the place. Davis is a nice receiver that has dependable hands. He is a big guy that moves well down the field. Where Davis is effective is when the team uses it’s boot or waggle scheme. Davis will hold like he is going to block, then work out into the route. Cowboys’ safeties Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh will need to be aware of where these Redskins tight ends are at all times because of their ability to make plays.

The Redskins don’t have many weapons, but Cooley and Davis can more than hold their own on making plays.

On the other side of the coin, the Redskins run into a matchup problem with Witten and Bennett. The Redskins safeties do not do a good job in coverage and in this game it might do them in.

LaRon Landry is a big hitter and can be a force, but when it comes to coverage he is technique poor. Landry really struggles with movement and keeping route contact. You can fool and move him.

Reed Doughty is a decent tackler but doesn’t have the foot quickness or the cover skills to be able to control a guy like Witten or Bennett. If this game becomes tight, watch how Romo and McNabb will go to their tight ends to make plays.

The Cowboys have more weapons on the outside at receiver and along with the Redskins will have their hands full with these tight ends.