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Key Player Match-Ups

By Mark Solway | October 10th, 2003

Both teams come into this week’s match-up off tough losses. The Redskins nearly clawed their way back in to a game that they didn’t deserve to, while the Bucs lost a game that they didn’t expect to. Here are this week’s key player match-ups:

Jeremiah Trotter vs. Bucs RBs
Warren Sapp vs. Interior of Redskins Offensive Line
Laveranues Coles vs. Ronde Barber
Chris Samuels vs. Simeon Rice

Jeremiah Trotter vs. Bucs RBs
By Fran Farren

They say it takes a full year to recover from torn knee ligaments. Don’t tell that to Jeremiah Trotter.

Trotter will admit to you that he’s not quite 100%…but that doesn’t mean he’s not giving 110% out on the field each week. You can see it in him. You can see the improvement each week. Last week against the Eagles, you saw Trotter return his 7th career interception to the Eagles 1-yard line. In Trotter, you see heart. You see him slowly again becoming the defensive stud he once was. You see……potential.

The Redskins defense is giving up 102.4 yards rushing per game so far this year. A big part of that is Trotter, who is leading the team with 29 tackles (26 solo). Unlike years past, Trotter and company are doing a solid job backing up the defensive line and are putting up respectable numbers against the run. What does that mean for the Bucs?

Carrying most of the workload for the Bucs is RB Michael Pittman. So far, Pittman has run 54 times for 261 yards (4.8 yards/rush average). Illustrated by his 21 receptions for 166 yards (7.9 yards/catch average) and one touchdown, Pittman adds to his rushing production when he is (often) utilized as a receiver out of the backfield. Pittman is usually seconded by FB Mike Alstott (27 carries for 77 yards – 2.9 yards/rush average)but Alstott was placed on the IR thisweek ending his 2003 season..

Overall, the Bucs are averaging about 105.3 yards rushing per game (and it should be noted that this number jumped dramatically after the Colts game last Monday night). Considering this, it should come as no surprise that the Buc’s running game has generated only 2 rushing touchdowns so far this year, both by Alstott. Simply put, the Bucs do not have a rushing game that should cause major problems for Trotter and the Redskins defense. Pittman, for example, will be more of a threat as a receiver than he will be rushing the football.

What does this mean for Trotter and the Redskins? It means that Trotter and Co. should be about to handle just about anything that the Bucs running backs throw at him. It means the Redskins may be able to, finally, focus a little more on attacking the passer.

Advantage – Trotter

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Warren Sapp vs. Interior of Redskins Offensive Line
By Rich Hilts

While one would like to point out that the offensive line of the Washington Redskins has had its success this year, it simply hasn’t. Allowing sacks from coverage is one thing, but reviewing a lot of tape leads one to believe that the sacks are coming from a breakdown in communication. Communication points to a few features of Steve Spurrier’s offense, namely the Quarterback, the center and worst of all, the audible.

With the audible system working full speed, the middle of the line in the Redskins offense has allowed pressure at a fairly constant rate when the opposing defense is bringing just four men, not to mention any extra blitzers. This week is not going to be any different, with the monster in the middle coming to call on Patrick Ramsey. If Larry Moore can’t communicate the signals properly, Spurrier doesn’t change his style to preclude the audibles, and Patrick gets rattled early, Sapp could very well vent his contract frustrations and lack of any recorded sacks on the second year quarterback.

While Sapp is on track to record his usual number of tackles in the year, he is bound to be frustrated by not having any sacks on record, especially when he may be seeking a new home come next year. Randy Thomas should be able to handle Sapp on a one on one basis, but if Moore or Fiore/Dockery end up having to play one on one against Sapp, his surprising speed off the snap could end up with Ramsey on the turf more times than not. Sapp has the ability to make all pros look like pudding in the face of his push, and his speed has left more than one lineman looking to see where he went.

It would be nice to say that three men, in one combination or another could handle Sapp without holding or false starts, but unfortunately the Skins line hasn’t proven it could handle backups without these assists.

Advantage: Sapp

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Laveranues Coles vs. Ronde Barber
By Martin Collinson

The Redskins face a Bucs defense which has some injuries, particularly at linebacker and corner, and is coming off a shattering 35-38 loss to the Colts on Monday night. For the Bucs defense giving up 38 points in a game would be insult enough on its own, but what makes the loss even more of a biter pill is that the Colts mounted a 21 point comeback in the last 4 minutes.

The book may be out on how to beat this Bucs defense – throw the ball down the field.

The good news is that the Redskins have the strong armed QB and deep threat receiver in Laveranues Coles to replicate the Colts success. Coles is proving to be worth every penny that the Skins splashed to prise him away from the Jets. Through 5 games he has 33 catches for 513 yards and 1TD – that’s a 15.5 yard average per catch. Coles has had back to back average games though getting ‘only’ 6 catches for just over 60 yards against the Eagles. This slight dip in Coles production is down to two factors – the focus that opposing defenses are putting stopping Coles and the pressure that QB Pat Ramsey has been getting behind spotty pass protection.

This week the major responsibility for stopping Coles will likely fall on the Bucs top corner Ronde Barber.

7 year vet Barber is one of the better man coverage corners in the NFL. He is perhaps not in the top 5 but is certainly in the top 10. Barber was a 3rd round pick in 1997 and had is break out year in the Bucs Super Bowl year with a 10 interception season. That was an exceptional year, every other season he has only had 2 picks per season.

Barber is an athletic corner who runs well and is a very good tackler – he is also an exceptional special teams player. He benefits from playing behind an exceptional front 7 who play an aggressive style of defense in going after the QB. The key to the game will be the ability of the Skins offensive line and running backs to protect Ramsey. If Ramsey gets time, Coles can wreak havoc on a secondary which apart from Barber is ordinary against the pass. It might not be pretty early, but if we can keep it close as the Bucs pass rush tires and slows, watch out for more late fireworks.

Advantage Coles

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Chris Samuels vs. Simeon Rice
By Frank Hastings

Chris Samuels (6’5″, 310) is a four-year vet out of Alabama. He was acquired by the Skins in the first round of the 2000 draft (3rd overall, which could have been 2nd overall). Chris started 15 games in 2002 despite battling several nagging injuries. He had another solid season and was voted to his second straight Pro Bowl with teammates Arrington and Bailey. Samuels forms one of the most formidable tackle tandems in the NFL with partner Jon Jansen. His teammates and coaches voted him as the 2002 Ed Block Courage Award winner, annually given to a player from each NFL team that exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Samuels has now started 47 games during his career and has only missed one game in three seasons.

Simeon Rice (6’5″, 268, Illinois) is one of the league’s most relentless pass rushers who fulfilled lofty expectations in his first season with the Bucs after signing a big five-year contract in March of 2001. He is an eight-year veteran speed rusher who can run down the most elusive of NFL quarterbacks. He has reached double-digit sack four times. In Arizona, he led the Cardinals in sacks four of his five seasons. Rice set the Arizona franchise mark with 16.5 sacks in 1999 in earning a Pro Bowl berth. Rice already has four sacks and one interception in four games in 2003.

Samuels, as well as everyone on the offensive line (except Randy Thomas), have struggled with mental mistakes and offside penalties. As a result Patrick Ramsey and the offensive unit are paying the price and have struggled as of late. It appears Samuels will get some assistance from the left guard position as Fiore is slated to return this week to replace the struggling rookie Derrick Dockery. The upcoming matchups for Samuels and the rest of the offensive line will not get any easier but this week they take on the defending World Champions and one of the better defensive teams ever.

Advantage: Rice

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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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