Two teams on opposite sides of the tracks or so it would seem. At 5-2, the Cowboys are over-performing and starting to believe that they are better than they perhaps really are. The Redskins are in disarray and seemingly believe that they’re not as good as perhaps they could be.
The bye week helped the Redskins nurse a few injuries, but did it heal all wounds in time for the epic rivalry?
Jeremiah Trotter vs. Troy Hambrick – By Frank Hastings
Laveranues Coles vs. Mario Edwards – By Fran Farren
Cowboys WR vs. Redskins DBs – By Martin Collinson
Chris Samuels vs. Ebenezer Ekuban – By Rich Hilts
Jeremiah Trotter vs. Troy Hambrick
By Frank Hastings
“The Other Troy” Hambrick (6’1″, 233), a four-year vet out of Savannah State (signed as a rookie free agent in 2000), talked plenty of smack the last couple of years while serving as Emmitt Smith’s apprentice. He basically said in the press that Emmitt had lost a step, as almost everyone agreed, and that Emmitt needed to retire and let a Hambrick lead the rushing charge of the Cowboys.
Hambrick is a big, physical running back with deceptive speed in the open field. Hambrick has been a somewhat productive back since the beginning of his Cowboy career. Last season, he averaged 4.0 yards-per-rush on 79 carries, and in 2001 he rushed for 5.1 yards-per-rush on 113 carries. That type of production, along with his size and ability to play both backfield positions had Dallas coaches excited about his future and potential going into the 2003 season.
Then came 2003 and the “Tuna’s off-season and training camp”. Hambrick received open criticism from Parcells, in the off-season and at the beginning of camp, for coming in over weight. The “Tuna” even threatened to fine Hambrick for every pound until he met the criteria Parcells had set for him. Things haven’t gotten much better for Hambrick, even with the Cowboys 5-2 record. He has carried the ball 137 times for 444 with a modest 3.2/carry average, and the “Tuna” is not impressed. In fact Parcells is openly troubled and criticizing the club’s rushing game and feels that if it doesn’t improve, that tough times lie ahead. Hambrick rushed for 25 yards on 11 carries last week against the Bucs.
Parcells’ latest attempt to address the Boys poor rushing attack has been to re-sign Adrian Murrell, who was in camp with the Cowboys earlier this year. Parcells had told Murrell to stay ready and close to the phone. All of that couldn’t help Hambrick’s confidence level or his outlook on his starting job. Look for him to try too hard this week and struggle.
One of the men assigned to stop Hambrick this week will be Washington’s stud middle linebacker, Jeremiah Trotter (6’1″, 262), a six year vet out of Stephen F. Austin. Philadelphia selected Trotter in the 3rd round (72nd overall) in 1998. Trotter then signed with Washington as an unrestricted free agent on April 22, 2002. Trotter is a two-time pro-bowler making the team in 2000 and 2001.
Trotters missed four games last season after his season came to and end with a right knee injury versus Dallas, on Thanksgiving. He has shown steady improvement this season, with no sign of lingering effects of his 2002 knee surgery. The ability of each Redskin linebacker has been hampered somewhat this season by the lack of attention that the Redskin defensive line has demanded. Thus allowing the opponents offensive lineman to get off the line of scrimmage and get to and block Redskin linebackers. Hopefully the insertion of Darrell Russell this week will demand some double teams from the opponents offensive line and free up Redskin linebackers and defensive ends to make plays and possibly sacks. And if the Pokes don’t double-team Russell, hopefully he makes them pay with a push up the middle the Skins have been lacking all season.
Laveranues Coles vs. Mario Edwards
By Martin Collinson
Looking at this Redskins team, one bright star is shining through. That star is Laveranues Coles. Although his numbers have somewhat settled in recent weeks, no one can dispute that Coles was one of the best free agent pick-ups by any team this off-season. Sitting at 42 receptions for 631 yards, Coles is 5th in the League in total yards and matches up well against any cornerback in the league. Unfortunately for Coles, his production depends on whether Patrick Ramsey can get the ball to him…and this will depend on whether the O-line can protect Ramsey enough to get the ball to Coles. We saw this frequently at the beginning of the year; however, in recent weeks Ramsey has been getting mauled….leading to Coles’ worst week of the year, against Buffalo, with only 3 receptions. When Ramsey is able to get the ball to Coles, however, noone in the league can stop him. NOONE. This week, look for Coles to step it up to show that his numbers against Buffalo were a fluke.
This week it will be Mario Edwards’ turn to step up to the plate and see if he has what it takes to stop Coles. Edwards has one interception this year; however, he made that one interception count…returning it 27 yards for a touchdown against Detroit in week #7. Edwards, however, has one huge flaw as a cover-corner, he rarely (if ever) looks back for the ball. If he is covering Coles this weekend and if Ramsey is able to get the ball to Coles often, look for (at least) one pass-interference call against Edwards for “not looking back at the ball.” If Ramsey has the time, Coles should flourish this week.
The Redskins recipe for success this week: (1) protect Ramsey; and (2) get the ball to Coles as much as you can!
Advantage – Coles
Cowboys Receivers v Redskins Secondary
By Martin Collinson
Bill Parcells seems to get production from players that nobody else gets – that’s his genius. Before the season started a look at the Cowboys receivers would not have sent secondary coaches home for sleepless nights.
Joey Galloway? Great physical skills, can stretch the field but always getting hurt and never really producing. Antonio Bryant? Second year guy who showed promise in his rookie season (notably against us by way of a change) and has great physical tools but has attitude issues. Terry Glenn? Please, this is a guy who was once a good receiver but who disappeared last year with Brett Farve throwing to him at Green Bay.
So whats happened? These three guys are widely regarded as the best set of 3 receivers in the NFL. That might be a touch generous but they are good. Galloway (26 for 410 yards 1 TD) and Bryant (15 for 304 and 1 TD) provide the deep threat, both averaging around 20 yards per reception and Terry Glenn is doing the dirty work over the middle and down near the end zone leading the team with 26 catches for 359 and 4 TDs.
So its not a great week for the Redskins to have a secondary decimated by injuries.
Champ Bailey is the ‘healthy’ corner. He just has a sprained left shoulder and an injured wrist – he is rated as probable. That’s were the good news ends really. Fred Smoot has missed the last two games and is still rated as doubtful with a bruised clavicle, though reports at press time (Saturday) indicate that he could play. Rashaud Bauman, who started in Smoot’s place, has a sprained ankle and is listed as questionable – he will be a game day decision. Not sounding too good is it. If Bauman can not go (which seems very likely), then reserve safety David Terrell or rookie Ade Jimoh will likely play in the nickel. Jimoh has had a difficult rookie season so far being burned on several occasions.
The Cowboys are going to test this secondary, regardless of who’s playing, particularly since we have been unable to get a consistent pass rush. The Redskins normally play mainly man coverage. I would look for them to protect the corner away from Bailey with some combination zones and lots of safety help. It could be a long day for the Redskins secondary though.
Advantage – Dallas.
Ebenezer Ekuban vs. Chris Samuels
By Rich Hilts
Chris Samuels is a perennial pro bowler, with a shot at becoming one of the best left tackles in the game of football. Ekuban is a man who never lived up to his billing. While Ekuban can get off the snap fairly quickly, his quickness and size, 6-3 265 pounds, has never translated into his being a sack monster. Nor is he a tackling clinic in cleats, with his not so stellar 14 tackles this year.
Samuels has handled people of Ekuban’s quality, or lack thereof, on a consistent basis. However, with question marks next to him on either side, i.e. Chamberlain and Dockery, it could be called into question as to whether Chris will have a normal Chris Samuels day vs. Ekuban or whether he will have a 2003 Chris Samuels day. Considering the bye week and the intensity being reported from Ashburn in practices, one would suspect that Chris will handle Ekuban in the old fashioned sense of things, once again showing he can be an anchor to the left side of the line. Simply put, it looks like Chris might have something to prove, both to himself and the fans, and it might not be a good day to be named Ekuban.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by The Game Day Staff