Time for the weekly feature of 5 Questions where we talk to a SB Nation blogger for the opposition. This week, of course, the opposition is the hated Washington Redskins and that means another visit from one of BTB's favorite bloggers, Skin Patrol. He runs Hogs Haven and is a very good blogger and a nice guy with one humongous flaw - he's a Redskins fan. Ugh. But he gives a good interview so check it out.
[Ed. Note - This interview was conducted before the news on Clinton Portis got worse and before we learned Felix Jones won't play]
Blogging The Boys: Give us the skinny, Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts? Who is playing and who isn't? Will the offensive strategy change if the big guns aren't playing?
Hogs Haven: Latest word on Clinton Portis is no good news. I am increasingly skeptical regarding him playing this weekend though some part of me believes Clinton Portis simply wills himself to the field. Maybe that's not necessarily the best thing, as there is a lot of season left. Ladell Betts is a different story, as the most recent news of him is that he's cutting well and practicing, albeit with a brace. If I had to GUESS right now it would be no Clinton Portis, some Ladell Betts. If Ladell Betts is 100%, I don't think you'll see too drastic a change in offensive strategy. He's carried the rushing load in Washington before and he can do it again. Betts can play. If there is an offensive strategy change I think it's post-kickoff. However I want to spin it, we just aren't as good without Portis as we are with him, and coaches, rightly I think, are more likely to abandon a running game that isn't working. The short answer is: If Betts is ok, we go into the game with the same offensive strategy we would with Portis. By game's end, though, deviations from that gameplan are far more likely where the running game is failing for multiple quarters.
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BTB: Santana Moss has been a Cowboy-killer. When other teams have had success against him, how have they done it? Any tips for holding down Moss?
HH: Sure, teams are great against Moss when he's injured. That's by far the easiest way to limit Santana Moss. With Moss it is a pick your poison. You can keep him in front of you but then you risk him getting the ball in his hands with space to run, which is dangerous. You can play him tight underneath, or bump him at the line, but then you run the risk of him getting past you for the deep pass. The best way to limit Santana is to limit Jason Campbell. If you can get after the quarterback, Moss will not have the time to go deep nor will he have the chance to get much separation on short passes. Bad answer but if I knew how to stop Santana Moss I would be an NFL defensive coordinator.
BTB: What's the Redskins mind-set going to be on defense now that Tony Romo is back? Will they attack him and try to rough him up, or will they play guys back in the secondary and hope some of his throws go astray dealing with the pinkie?
HH: Jason Taylor is going to be back on the attack so I imagine we'll want to get after Romo. I'm sure Blache wants to first see just how Romo's hand is healing and how that affects his ability to throw the ball. Good chance there's considerably more blitzing in the second half of this game then the first, presuming Romo proves himself capable despite his boo-boo. I think Romo is a good enough quarterback where I want to throw some things at him from the get-go, but Blache is a bit more reserved when it comes to blitzes, moreso than Gregg Williams was at least. We've got enough talent in the secondary (that played pretty well against you the first time 'round) where we can take some chances early on giving Romo time.
BTB: On our end of things, we feel like this game is practically a playoff game. A must-win. How are the Redskins approaching it? Is there same sense of urgency?
HH: This is Dallas Hate Week. Every game against the Cowboys is must win. We are not playing as good of football as we were early on the season (particularly in our two week run against you and Philly on the road). A lot of people are worried that we're worse than our 6-3 record indicates, especially looking back on that St. Louis and Pittsburgh loss, both embarrassing in their own way. This is a division game against a foe that is finally getting their starting quarterback returned and healthy-ish, and thus are poised for a late season challenge for an NFC East wild card spot. Tie breakers, like head to head and division record, are crucial. I think we need 10 wins to get to the playoffs, and 6-4 is a lot farther from that goal than 7-3 is.
BTB: We feel a lot better about this game now that Tony Romo, Terence Newman and Kyle Kosier are back in the lineup (and possibly Felix Jones.) What's your take? Is this going to be another classic rivalry game that will go down to the final minutes?
HH: Well Vegas does obviously too, as you guys opened as favorites in our house. I wonder whether much of that is the result of us playing like crap at home. I hope it isn't close, I hope we smear you. Realistically, though, the Cowboys are a great team and I don't often tempt fate by saying the Vegas line, usually right, is unusually off the mark in this case. Yea, close game, I hope we come out on top. As much as I think the Cowboys can win even if they fall behind early, I'm of the opinion that my 'Skins are never out of a game against the Cowboys. See Question 2 in Re: Santana Moss. Felix Jones worries me the most. He was a non-factor in our first game I believe due to coaching error by the Cowboys. I don't want to face him. I'm not nearly as worried about Newman as I was in year's past given how well we matched up against him earlier in the season. I'd much rather be playing against Brad Johnson than Tony Romo but it can't be helped.