Friday, September 10, 2010
Final Word: NFC East
By Matt Mosley
Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 1 games.
Quarterback protection was a problem for the Redskins last season.
This will be the only Cowboys-Redskins preview in the blogging community not mentioning a certain defensive tackle. That's because I think he'll be a non-factor in this game. I'll be zeroed in on what Mike and Kyle Shanahan do to make sure Donovan McNabb stays on his feet long enough to deliver the ball. Trent Williams is going to be a solid left tackle in this league, but there are easier ways to make your debut than facing outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. The Skins are going to help Williams quite a bit early in this game and that could take away from what McNabb's able to accomplish with the talented tight end duo of Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. If the Redskins can give McNabb some time, I think Santana Moss will be a tough matchup for Terence Newman or Mike Jenkins. Kyle Shanahan wants to use Moss a lot like he used Houston's Andre Johnson and that's a scary thought for this secondary.
Justin Tuck was elected defensive captain by his teammates. Sunday's game against Carolina is the game where Tuck and his defensive teammates can show they're ready to get back to the '07-'08 years. Tuck has promised to be a lot more vocal on and off the field and he'll be supported by the energetic new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. I can't say enough about Fewell, who has completely changed the mindset with a lot of these players. He's going to hold his guys accountable, but he's also not going to beat them down constantly. I really like what he's done to fortify the rush defense. And it looks like Fewell has helped inspire Tom Coughlin. I had a long conversation with Coughlin in Albany, N.Y, during training camp and you could tell he thinks this team has a legitimate chance to do something special this season. I have them reaching the Super Bowl. However, I may change that pick if they struggle against the Panthers.
Kevin Kolb can't win this game against Green Bay on the first drive. The previous sentence popped into my head when I couldn't sleep Thursday night and it's not quite as profound now that I see it in print. But you know what I'm saying. Kolb doesn't need to try to do anything heroic in his debut as the full-time starter for the Eagles. Simply feed the ball to your playmakers and make sure you hit them on the run. Kolb's going to have some rough days, but I also think he's capable of putting up some big numbers. He moves around a lot better than folks give him credit for and you'll see that against the overrated Packers.
Doug Free was thrown into an awful situation against Jared Allen in last year's divisional playoff game. He'll be much better prepared for Washington outside linebacker Brian Orakpo on Sunday evening. Orakpo joined us on ESPN 103.3 in Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday and wouldn't tip his hand on where he'd be lining up. There's some thought that defensive coordinator Jim Haslett might move him around a bit. Orakpo will try to use his speed early in the game before transitioning to his bull-rush technique. The players refer to that as "speed to power" and Orakpo can be dangerous in that mode. I think Free will hold his own. If he doesn't, Tony Romo could be in trouble.
Let's keep our eye on the Eagles' tweeting defensive end Brandon Graham. The rookie defensive end had to stop by Andy Reid's office Thursday to explain why he tweeted his intentions to whisper in Aaron Rodgers' ear the word "sack." I'm not sure I recall Deacon Jones or Reggie White whispering anything in a quarterback's ears, but times have changed. I'm anxious to see how Graham performs in his first game. He can't get so amped that he forgets his technique early. But I could see him having a big debut -- especially since the Packers will be focused on trying to slow down Trent Cole. Graham's studied Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil on film and he's ready to showcase some of those moves Sunday.