I asked Skin Patrol, who runs Hogs Haven, the SB Nation blog for the Redskins, to give us a look at the Deadskins this year. He graciously agreed and sent me this anlysis. Nothing better than getting a scouting report directly from the enemy. So enjoy, and visit Hogs Haven for some cross-blog trash-talk. My review of the Cowboys on his blog can be found here.
Skin Patrol's Redskins Review
This also happens to be my favorite part of the year. With that in mind, let's take a look at where I think the Redskins are strongest and weakest:
Strength: Perhaps this is peppered most by what I perceive as the Cowboys greatest weakness, but I cannot wait to see the front 4 face off against the turbid Cowboys o-line. Cornelius Griffin is the better player in our interior; he had an interception against the Cowboys the last time the two teams played. Joe Salave'a is a very capable defensive tackle and takes up space well (he's a large guy). On the ends are Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter. Phillip Daniels also had a huge game last year, torching the Cowboys o-line for 4 sacks. He is backed up by Demetric Evans who was good for the only sack against crafty Brad Johnson last week (in a losing effort, I should note). Andre Carter was brought in to improve the Redskins pash rush and has failed to do anything impressive in that role. That said, former starter Renaldo Wynn returns and could very easily replace Carter. Depending on how the game plays out, having fresh legs on the field could turn into a gamebreaking scenario against a Cowboys offensive line that has underpreformed.
I also like our receiving unit which has improved significantly since last year. We've brought in a new coach who knows how to utilize offensive players more as well as some key receiving personnel in Antwaan Randle-El and Brandon Lloyd. And although the latter was silent last week, and the former is probably more useful on punt returns, they are both upgrades from last year's backups Thrash and Patten.
And this unit might not have needed improvement to succeed against the Cowboys. Santana Moss, essentially, single-handedly snatched a victory from the Cowboys in last year's first matchup. Chris Cooley showed up the second game and had 6 receptions -- half of them for touchdowns. If Brunell has time (which is not necessarily a given) then the Cowboys could find themselves in a heap of trouble.
Weakness: There is one big weakness on the Redskins defense that is cause for concern (and limits our entire defense in suspect ways). Shawn Springs is doubtful as of right now and will likely miss the Cowboys game. With Springs out, the Redskins are forced to rely on Carlos Rogers and, unfortunately, Mike Rumph/Kenny Wright. I don't have particular faith in either of these players as reliable starters in the NFL, and it doesn't help that they will be forced to matchup against the likes of Terry Glenn, Jason Witten, and Terrell Owens (whose inevitable meltdown could not come soon enough). There's no two ways around it; this matchup does not favor the Washington Redskins.
And really there's no satisfactory solution. You can try playing more conservatively (which is not Williams' style) and sacrifice safety blitzes for deep help. But this runs the risk of giving Bledsoe too much time to find the open man elsewhere on the field. Alternatively we could maintain our blitz heavy gameplan which runs the risk of putting Glenn or Owens 1-on-1 vs. Mike Rumph -- that's a touchdown.
The front four will have to get some push on the QB without blitz help for us to neutralize this missmatch. If Bledsoe has the time, he has the receivers, and that's going to result in some points on the board.
By the way, we better win or I have to write a kiss-butt diary on Hogs Haven praising the Deadskins win. Ugh!