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Game Day Match-Ups

By Mark Solway | September 17th, 2004

The Redskins look to go to 2-0 this week, but they’ll likely have to endure a war of atrition with division rivals, the New York Giants. The Redskins are 58-81-4 lifetime against the G-Men, but the two teams have split the last 10 games (since 1999). While it’s early in the season, all division games have added importance. and this game should be considered a must-win. Here are some of the key player match-ups this week:

Kenyatta Jones vs. Michael Strahan
By Scott Hurrey

For the past five seasons, one of the marquee match-ups for the Redskins and Giants has been Jon Jansen and Michael Strahan.

With Jansen’s injury, Kenyatta Jones has stepped in and played well in his absence. This is Jones’ first significant playing time since starting 11 games for the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl team in 2002. Against the Buccaneers in week one, he held defensive end Greg Spires to four tackles and no sacks, while only drawing one holding penalty.

Michael Strahan is a 12-year veteran and the single-season sack king. He had four tackles and one sack against the Eagles in week one. The last two seasons, Strahan has had fairly predictable results against the Redskins registering two sacks while playing at Giants Stadium. He has been shut out in both games at FedEx Field.

This season, Strahan doesn’t have Jansen to worry about, but he does have to worry about the vastly improved blocking schemes that will certainly give Jones, who is an above average Tackle anyway, all the help he needs. This should be a very interesting match-up in the trenches.

Advantage: Jones

Randy Thomas vs. Norman Hand
By Mark Solway

Always an intriguing match-up in any Redskins – Giants game is the battle going on BESIDE Michael Strahan. With the Redskins now fielding a left-handed starting quarterback, this head-to-head is even more important.

The Redskins start pro bowler Randy Thomas at right guard. Seldom heard from, and always solid, Thomas will look to duplicate last week’s effort against the Giants. The Redskins offensive line had a workman-like performance last week allowing no sacks and forging the path for Clinton Portis to run for 148 yards. Though not spectacular, the ‘Dirtbags’ lived up to their name and mucked it out at the line.

Norman Hand is a seasoned veteran, having spent time in Miami, San Diego, New Orleans and Seattle, before landing with the Giants in his tenth season. The 6’3″, 310 pound Hand has been a great defensive tackle over his career, but the jury is still out on whether he can continue to be that player at this later stage. He struggled last week against rookie sensation Shawn Andrews before Andrews got hurt, and Hand did not end up registering a tackle or a sack.

Known for his run defense, Hand will have another tough assignment this week. Thomas employs excellent tchnique and is considerably quicker than Hand, but has the power to contain him. Hand’s job is also made tougher by the fact that the Redskins have Joe Bugel to mix things up. Expect a lot of pulling plays early to run the ball away from Hand and Strahan. Forcing the two to pursue will gradually wear them down , and make the Redskins’ job of defending the pass that much easier as the game goes on. In the later parts of the game, expect the Skins to run right at Hand and Strahan. Tired, and going backwards, the Giants’ pair will struggle.

Recent matches have seen some monumental battles between the left side of the Giants defensive line and the right side of the Redskins offensive line. This Sunday will not be much different. But after week one, the Redskins seem to be moving forwards and the Giants seem to be going backwards. Expect about the same from the Thomas/Hand match-up. Too much skill and momentum on the side of Thomas.

Advantage: Thomas

Jeremy Shockey vs. Sean Taylor
By Dan Hines

This match-up features two former University of Miami stars. Jeremy Shockey is one player the Redskins have had no answer for since he entered the league in 2002. He has amassed 265 yards on 21 receptions in 3 games vs. the Skins. Shockey showed the rust that comes with missing training camp (due to injuries) as he struggled in the Giants opener against Philly recording only 3 catches, and dropping a few passes in a lopsided loss to the Eagles.

Enter Sean Taylor (6’3 240), the Redskins number one draft pick (5th overall). Taylor is coming off a strong per-season that saw him make several spectacular plays. Taylor saw limited action in the Redskins win over the Bucs, because of a virus that kept him out of practice earlier in the week.

Look for Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Williams to give Taylor plenty of help Sunday by disguising cover and blitz packages. The Skins should be able to apply plenty of pressure against the Giants poor offensive line, making Taylor tough assignment manageable.

If the Giants can give Kurt Warner time, Taylor could be in for a long afternoon. Shockey is one of the league’s best tight ends. This being Taylor’s first real start in the NFL he may struggle in spots on Sunday. Shockey better enjoy this week, it won’t be as pleasant when he has to visit Mr. Taylor at FedEx in December!

Advantage: Shockey

Antonio Pierce vs. Tiki Barber
By Fran Farren

At press time, it was unknown whether LB Mike Barrow would be starting the game versus the Giants; therefore, this “match-up” features Barrow’s replacement, Antonio Pierce.

The Redskins enter week two as the number 1 ranked total defense in the NFL. That is, in large part, due to the play of the linebackers, including Antonio Pierce. Last week, Pierce had nine tackles and snagged a key interception that secured the victory for the Skins. His tenacious play in relief of Barrow last week made him a candidate for “player of the game” honors, as well as taking any pressure off of the Redskins to speed up Barrow’s recovery. With OLBs Marcus Washington and Lavar Arrington heavily involved as edge pass rushers, look for Pierce to clog up the middle and remain strong against the pass.

The days of “read and react Redskins” are behind us. Gregg Williams will push Pierce and the other linebackers to continue their aggressive play, focusing on stopping the run and forcing the Giants into a lot of 3rd-and-long scenarios. If Antonio Pierce keeps playing at last week’s high level, the Redskins will surely face a tough decision when Barrow is healthy enough to return to the lineup.

Tiki Barber presents a significant threat not only as a rusher, but as a receiver out of the backfield. Barber’s performance last week against the Eagles, rushing for 125 yards and 1 touchdown, looks impressive on the surface; however, his totals are somewhat exaggerated because of his 72-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Against a mediocre Eagles run defense, Barber did well.

Unfortunately for him, he will be facing a buzz-saw in the Redskins defense this week and his success will not likely continue. Look for Antonio Pierce to continue his dominating play in the middle helping to shut down the rushing game of the Giants. Don’t be surprised if Pierce adds another interception to his 2004 statistics and maybe even a forced fumble.

Advantage – Pierce

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

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