It’s Dallas Week and Redskins fans know what that means: having to face the NFL’s top ranked offense, led by quarterback Tony Romo.
The Cowboys are averaging 440 yards a game, with 289.3 of them coming through the air. A crucial element to stopping the Cowboys aerial assault is containing tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens. The pair scorched the Redskins defense, more specifically cornerback Shawn Springs, for four touchdowns last season in a heartbreaking loss in Dallas.
“I can sum up all the players in one word. They are great. They play well as individuals and well as a group. On the offensive side of the ball they know when to use their air attack as well as run the ball,” said defensive end Andre Carter, who had four tackles and a half sack against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Redskins are coming off of a victory in which they dealt with two of the games best wide receivers in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Despite both scoring touchdowns, they were held in check for most of the game. Boldin only caught three passes for 25 yards while 62 of Fitzgerald’s 109 yards came on his third quarter touchdown.
The Redskins defense forced the Cardinals to rely on running back Edgerrin James for most of the game, something that is not an everyday occurrence considering the weapons they have to catch the ball.
“It all started with practice. Greg Blache challenged us to be physical and be keen with our assignments play-by-play. Carlos Rogers and the rest of the secondary knew that they had their hands full when it came to the air attack, but they answered and had a great game,” Carter said.
While the Redskins 13th-ranked secondary is focused on Dallas’s aerial trio, the defensive line and linebackers have to be equally worried about their ground attack.
Along with Romo, Owens, and Witten, their offense features running backs Felix Jones and Marion Barber. Jones became the first rookie in Cowboys history to score a touchdown in each of his first three games. Last season, Barber proved to be a true workhorse, leading the NFL in broken tackles. The Redskins defense has faced different types of running backs such as Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Edgerrin James, and Brandon Jacobs but has not been challenged with such an effective duo this season.
“Like [stopping] any good offensive back, it is important to have 11 men around the ball. Gang tackle. That is the success of stopping the run game. It is one of the key emphases of being a great run-stopping defense. You see it in Tampa Bay, Baltimore, etc.,” Carter said.
The last time these two teams met, the Redskins defense held the Cowboys to just one yard rushing in a 27-6 victory during the regular season finale at FedEx Field. That memory will be fresh in the mind of Barber.
The challenge will be even more interesting for the defense considering defensive end Jason Taylor will miss his first game since the 1999 season. His absence will give former Cowboy Demetric Evans his first start since week 2 of last season. Evans can play defensive end and defensive tackle at any given time and seems to make a play anytime he is given a chance.
“No individual can replace another individual in this business. Everyone brings something to the table. Jason Taylor is a great, versatile pass rusher on the edge. I have seen him play linebacker and often defensive end when he was with the Dolphins. Demetric is versatile as well, in a different way. He can play end and tackle. I am excited for him this week because I know he will do well for us. He has passion for the game and knows when to make a play. He has been hungry to play more and now this is his time,” Carter said.
On the other side of the ball, it appears 10th-year veteran Jon Jansen is set to make his first start this season in place of the injured Stephon Heyer, who assumed the role of starting right tackle following Jansen’s demotion.
Jansen, along with the rest of the offensive line, faces a tough Dallas defensive line, led by speedy bull-rushing end DeMarcus Ware. Their performance is very important, with their priority being to protect quarterback Jason Campbell.
Campbell, who struggled in the season opener against the New York Giants, has appeared more comfortable in Coach Jim Zorn’s West Coast offense. Campbell also seems to be more polished as well, throwing for four touchdowns and no interceptions through three games. He has an opportunity to exploit Dallas’ secondary, which, as shown in their matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, can be vulnerable to deep passes.
“Jason Campbell is developing quite well as a QB, especially in the West Coast offensive scheme. Looking from the outside in, it is a tough offense to learn. Once a QB gets into a rhythm, from what I heard, he can be very effective week-by-week. It just takes time,” Carter said.
This matchup, barring a postseason meeting, will be the last between these two enemies at Texas Stadium. For the past three seasons, the Redskins have had the upper hand against the Cowboys, winning four of the last six games and winning the last three at FedEx Field.
Under the Helmet:
THN: What is your favorite movie?
AC: My favorite movie is ‘The Protector.’ It’s a martial arts movie. Bone-breaking action. It’s super-sweet.
THN: Who is your favorite actor/actress?
AC: My favorite actor is Tony Ja. He is martial arts expert in the movie ‘The Protector.’ He does his own stunts and fight scenes.
THN: What person most influenced your life?
AC: My parents influenced my life big time. Besides my parents, I had a good friend from Berkeley, who some-what mentored me when I was an incoming freshman at Cal. His name was Bejan Esmaili. We would have deep conversations about life and he always helped me relax when I was so uptight about life. We are good friends to this day.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Jake Russell