Key Player Match-Ups

Game Day

Two teams with very different records, playing for two very different reasons. For the 8-5 Cowboys this game is crucial, as they still have playoff admirations but a loss would make even a wildcard berth tough. The 5-8 Redskins are playing for nothing but pride, and with a depleted lineup to boot. This is the 2003 version of the Super Bowl for many Redskin fans. Here are this week’s key player match-ups:

LaRoi Glover vs. Derrick Dockery – By Rich Hilts
Jermiah Trotter vs. Troy Hambrick – By Frank Hastings
Cowboys WR v. the Redskins Secondary – By By Fran Farren
Laveranues Coles v Mario Edwards – By Martin Colinson

LaRoi Glover vs. Derrick Dockery
By Rich Hilts

A monster in the middle versus a new monster in the making. That is what this matchup could be billed as. These two, one a name and the other a name in the making could provide quite an interior battle for those who like to watch the line play closely.

Glover, an eight year vet, has been a proven penetrator, a man who likes not only to stuff the run, but to get to the quarterback from the tackle position. He has had as many as 17.5 sacks in a season, phenomenal for a defensive tackle. While he has only had 3 sacks this season, one might think this is less to LaRoi’s legs getting old or his losing a step and more the lack of good line mates around him. While part of the dominant New Orleans defensive line, LaRoi posted 50 sacks in 5 years while his production has dropped off since coming to Dallas, with his registering only 9.5 sacks in 2002 and thus far in 2003. He is small for a tackle at 6-2, 289, however, and that is where Derrick Dockery could have his day.

Dockery, a massive guard at 6-6, 345, was touted mainly for his strength, size, aggressiveness and his nasty run blocking skills. His weakness that was most questioned was his footwork and pass blocking ability. Originally slated to follow Fiore in the lineup, Dockery stepped in when Dave went on to IR with a knee injury. He had some problems at first, as most would expect, but has adapted well enough that there has been no interior defensive line pressure from his side in several games. His size and strength make him a very good match versus a person the size of Glover, and without the stellar line of the Saints all around him, Glover becomes the first to draw double teams if necessary to stop him cold. Still, a fast veteran with the explosiveness of Glover can’t totally be ignored. If the Skins use some help to double team Glover, the advantage immediately goes to the gargantuan Dockery. Otherwise, it will be a see saw battle all day with Dockery prevailing simply just due to his mass.

If pressure is applied to the quarterback, expect it to be from blitzers, not linemen as happened before.

Advantage: Dockery

Jermiah Trotter vs. Troy Hambrick
By Frank Hastings

Back in week one, Troy Hambrick got what he had whined about all of last year, and that was a chance to start at tailback for the Cowboys. A four-year vet, after serving as Emmitt Smith’s apprentice for three seasons, Hambrick felt like he had what it took to be a star running back in the NFL and that Emmitt Smith was the only thing in his way.

After an off-season of showing up at Spring camps overweight, some wondered if the “Tuna” was going to be able to work his motivation magic, get Hambrick into shape, and get the most out of the running back’s potential talents. Parcells threatened fines and benching if Hambrick didn’t meet his weight requirements. Hambrick, just before the first day of camp, met the weight, however Parcell’s concerns continue about the Cowboy rushing game.

So far in the 2003 season Hambrick has only reached the 100-yard/game mark twice, the last being in week 9 in Dallas against the Redskins (21-100/4.8). The other being in week 4 in New York against the Jets (24-127/5.3). Check out the other games rushing statistics for Hambrick.

Wk1 Falcons 14-53 3.8
Wk2 Giants 23-60 2.6
Wk5 Cardinals 23-59 2.6
Wk6 Eagles 18-46 2.6
Wk7 Lions 24-74 3.1
Wk8 Buccaneers 11-25 2.3
Wk10 Bills 13-33 2.5
Wk11 Patriots 16-41 2.6
Wk12 Panthers 12-26 2.2
Wk13 Dolphins 3-2 0.07
Wk14 Eagles 17-75 4.4

Not exactly star running back statistics. The Cowboys rank 8th in rushing in the NFC (122/3.8). In Hambrick’s defense, this is not the offensive line that Smith enjoyed running behind in the late ’90s.

Last week against the Eagles was Hambrick’s best game by far since the last time the Cowboys had faced the Redskins, but exclude the one long run of 22 yards and his average was just 3.3/carry. In hindsight it appears as though Jim Johnson, the Eagles Defensive Coordinator, decided that he was going to focus on shutting down the Cowboys passing game with his outstanding secondary and see if the Cowboys could beat them on the ground. The weather may have also played a role in the Cowboy’s passing game difficulties.

This week Hambrick goes up against a man on a mission. Redskin middle linebacker, Jermiah Trotter, is not only the leading tackler (103 total/67 solo) on the Redskin defense (ranked 14th in rush defense in the NFC (132/4.4), he is out to make a point that he’s is fully recovered from a knee injury and resulting surgery that ended his 2002 season. Trotter suffered the injury in last year’s second match-up between these two divisional rivals on Thanksgiving Day. Trotter has played better and better as the year has progressed. Look for him to play at his old pro-level this Sunday and shutdown Hambrick

Advantage: Trotter

Cowboys WR v. the Redskins Secondary
By Fran Farren

Will the real Champ Bailey please stand up? As many other Redskins fans, I have been very disappointed with the play of Bailey as of late. Once a shut-down corner, Bailey has been getting beat often lately…even by wide receivers of a lesser quality. Has his mind been focusing too much on the almighty dollar instead of on the WR lining up opposite him? Who can say. All I know is “action speaks louder than words” and, as of late, the “action” demonstrated by Champ Bailey has been mediocre. If he wants that “big contract” he so strongly covets, he’s gonna have to get a lot more than the 2 interceptions he has thus far!

Fred Smoot, on the other hand, has come on this year. Early on, Smoot was the one getting beat too much…but not lately. Recently, Smoot has been showing a lot of heart, playing through injuries….and playing a lot better! Unlike Bailey, Smoot has been playing like he wants to stay a Redskin. Don’t look now…but with 3 interceptions thus far this year, Smoot is quietly becoming the leader of this young Redskins secondary.

At safeties, Bowen and Ohalete have been “okay”. It is no secret that I’ve always been a fan of Bowen. Those Redskins fan that are harder on him have to realize that this is just his first year as a full-time starter. With more experience, Bowen will only get better and better and his hits will get bigger and bigger. Ohalete similarly has room for improvement and, like Bowen, needs to do better covering the angles. Between them, Bowen and Ohalete haven’t been doing too bad a job, however, amassing 6 interceptions (3 each) thus far this year.

All in all, the Redskins secondary has been steady…not great…but steady.

This week, however, the secondary will have to step it up a notch. This week, they’ll once again be facing a formidable receiving duo in Terry Glenn and Joey Galloway. Of the two receivers, Glenn has amassed slightly more yards than Galloway (630 versus 537) and has scored more touchdowns (5 versus 2).

Fortunately for the Redskins secondary, the QB attempting to get the ball to these two talented wide receivers is Quincy Carter. If the Cowboys had a more talented QB, the Redskins secondary would really have something to worry about. Because Quincy has been playing….well….like “Quincy” lately, the Dallas wide receivers have not been getting the ball as much, and have not been looking as formidable as earlier in the season. Their collective talents, let’s face it, have been wasted.

This week, look for Champ to get beat for a long touchdown by Glenn. Look for Smoot and Bowen to step it up, however, and get one interception each. All in all, look for the Redskins secondary to hold the Dallas wide receivers to an “average” game, except…of course…for that one big play against Bailey.

Advantage: Redskins Secondary

Laveranues Coles v Mario Edwards
By Martin Collinson

Hands up anybody who is NOT delighted that Laveranues Coles is a Redskin. Thought so – nobody!

This guy is the real deal – the first genuine number 1 receiver we have had since Art Monk and Gary Clark left the roster. Despite the ups and downs the Redskins have had on offense which have affected his production – its hard for a receiver to put up big numbers if his QB is buried under a pile of bodies – Coles went over 1000 yards for the season against the Giants last Sunday on 69 catches thus far. As well as his on field production he has been the perfect team man with a great work ethic and a refreshing tendency to let his performances do the talking and keep his off field comments to a minimum, most refreshing!

This week is Dallas week – just in case you had not noticed – and despite the recent Cowboy slump we will have to beat a very good ‘Boys defense if we are to continue their recent slide.

It is a defense which is based around putting pressure on the QB. In our first meeting in Texas they blitzed the heck out of Pat Ramsey and we were unable to come up with answers. Expect a similar approach Sunday. Of course if you live by the blitz you can die by it. The Cowboys corners figure to be in single coverage often on Sunday but they do have two of the better cover corners in the league in rookie Terrance Newman and #1 guy Mario Edwards which allow them to do all that blitzing.

Coles will likely draw Edwards most of the game. Edwards is a 4 year vet out of Florida State who has developed into a very solid cover corner. He is not yet in the very top echelon of corners but he is close. He possesses good catch up speed, is a good tackler and has excellent man cover skills. However sticking with Coles man on man is something which no corner can do consistently for any length of time. His success will depend on the Cowboys getting to Tim Hasselbeck – if we figure out how to pick up the blitz Coles will give Hasselbeck opportunities to make big plays down field.

Advantage: Coles

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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