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Key Player Match-Ups

By Mark Solway | September 19th, 2003

The Redskins will try to stay undefeated and go 3-0 this weekend when they face division rivals — the New York Giants. Here are some of the key player match-ups:

Laveranues Coles vs. Will Peterson
Rod Gardner vs. Will Allen
Jeremiah Trotter vs. Tiki Barber

Laveranues Coles vs. Will Peterson
By Martin Collinson

Steve Spurrier has made his name and reputation as a coach who wins football games by throwing the football. To throw the football successfully in the NFL you need 3 things:

1. A smart durable QB with an NFL arm.
2. An Offensive line which can hold up in pass protection.
3. A speedy, reliable ‘go to’ type receiver to be the focal point of the offence.

Step forward Laveranues Coles.

Coles was signed in the off season as a restricted free agent from the NY Jets for a first round pick and a $13M signing bonus following a breakout year with the Jets. At the time there were many in the league – presumably including the Jets front office who declined to meet the Redskins price – who thought that was too much to pay for a receiver who had only one big year behind him.

Well following the first two weeks particularly after a stellar 11 catch 180 1TD performance in the win at Atlanta, $13M is starting to look like daylight robbery. Its early days but after two weeks Coles leads the NFL in receiving yards and more importantly has already developed a special relationship with QB Pat Ramsey. He is the guy Ramsey looks for when he knows he needs something.

This week against the Giants, Ramsey and Coles are going against a defense which is still sucking breath following a shock defeat Monday night against the Cowboys. Though still solid against the run, and having the pass rush threat of Michael Strahan, the Giants pass defense has been porous. They have conceded an average of 305 yards passing per game and rank a lowly 31st against the pass.

This Sunday the Redskins will likely test that pass defense by again featuring a heavy dose of passing in their game plan. It’s unlikely that the Giants will allow any one corner to get matched up one on one consistently against Coles – that’s a quick way to get beaten. However it is also likely that they will want to test the suspect Redskins pass protection by sending the blitz.

When they do blitz its likely to be 3rd year corner Will Peterson who gets matched up with Coles, probably with safety help deep. Peterson is a solid corner – no Champ Bailey, but solid. He is probably better as a zone corner and is a very strong tackler who excels in run support and is effective blitzing off the corner. However, while he is a decent man cover corner he is several notches below Bailey and is not a guy who can take a teams best receiver out of the game. He only has 3 career interceptions and often gives up the catch even though he has decent coverage seeming happy just to make the tackle.

This is a match up that heavily favours the Redskins. If Coles can get isolated on either of the Giants corners and the Skins can step up their pass protection to give Pat Ramsey time then watch out for fireworks. Look for at least one 40 yard + connection between Ramsey and Coles in a close Redskins win.

Advantage – Coles.

Rod Gardner vs. Will Allen
By Frank Hastings

Will Allen teams with William Peterson to give the Giants two good young cornerbacks. He was 22nd overall by the Giants in the 1st round of the 2001draft. In fact, the Giants traded up eight for the opportunity to select Allen.

Allen stepped into the lineup as the starting left cornerback in the 2nd game of his rookie season and has been there ever since. He started 12 games that season (’01) and had a team-high four interceptions to go along with 42 tackles (38 solo). Last season he started 15 games and had only one pick and a career-high 59 tackles (50 solo). He was inactive for the game at Washington (12/8) due to a shoulder injury.

Allen a 5’10”, 195 pounder is in for a long day against Rod Gardner (6’2″, 213lbs). Besides being out-sized, Allen has banged up safety support and limited experience against Gardner. And if that isn’t bad enough, he’ll more than likely see his share of Laveranues Coles, the hottest receiver in the league.

No need to spend a bunch of time describing Gardner. We all know who he is…..Washington’s stud possession receiver drafted in the 1st-round (15th) in the ’01 draft. Gardner has and will continue to improve his routes and with the addition of Coles, the sky’s the limit for this tandem. Rod had 9 catches for 118 yards last week against Atlanta’s decent secondary and pass rush.

Gardner will have a big game limited only by weather conditions (i.e. rain), offensive line protection of Patrick Ramsey and Ramsey’s ability to deliver a catchable ball.

Advantage: Gardner

Jeremiah Trotter vs. Tiki Barber
By Rich Hilts

While this match up is between Trotter and Tiki, the question comes down to the running game the Giants decide to throw at the Redskins. If the center of the defensive line holds up against the Giants offensive line, Trotter will be free to scrape off the ends of the line to attack the running game in the backfield of the Giants.

Since the Giants line is piecemeal, the running game would tend to be more stuffed up the middle vs. the defensive line, leaving Trotter free to roam side to side to watch for Barber turning the run to the outside. With the supporting cast of Arrington and Armstead on the outside, Trotter should be able to contain Tiki’s darting running style, less suited to the bruising middle trench battle.

Advantage: Trotter

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by The Game Day Staff

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