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ESPN insider Week 10 matchup


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I did a search and did not find it forgive me if is has already been posted.


After five wins in six tries, coach Jon Gruden has seen his team implode with consecutive losses, following Brian Griese's season-ending injury versus the Dolphins in Week 6. While the Buccaneers are looking to right the ship, the Redskins simply want to keep the momentum rolling after a huge victory over the Eagles on Sunday night.

The biggest advantage that coach Joe Gibbs' team has in this matchup is a smothering defense capable of exploiting inexperienced QB Chris Simms. If the Buccaneers are unable to establish a more productive running game with Carnell "Cadillac" Williams this week, their chances of winning this game -- and staying competitive in the NFC South -- will be slim

When the Redskins have the ball

Rushing: The Redskins are employinh a lot of two-tight end sets as their base personnel package on offense, and H-back Mike Sellers' versatility has been a big key to the units' success. Sellers is able to line up as an in-line blocker, slot receiver and as an up-back in a two-back backfield. Because of his size (6-3, 280) and agility, Sellers is an impressive blocker in space and does a very good job of sealing off linebackers on the second level, which will be hugely important in this week's match-up against Tampa Bay's athletic trio of LBs -- Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles and Ryan Nece.

With Sellers and TE Robert Royal in the game at the same time, the Redskins have a great deal of size upfront when it comes to matching up in the running game. RB Clinton Portis is not putting up huge numbers, but is carrying a heavy load on a weekly basis and averaging 4.1 yards per carry. The team is also getting good carries from backup LaDell Betts, which is allowing this unit to wear down opponents in the second half of games.

The goal this week, against an explosively quick and athletic, but somewhat undersized defensive unit, is to remain patient and dedicated to the run. The Redskins average 315 pounds along their offensive line and should be able to wear down a defensive front that averages just 282 pounds. DTs Chris Hovan and Anthony McFarland do a great job of disrupting along the interior, but they will wear down if the Redskins keep pounding away at them with OC Casey Rabach, and OGs Derrick Dockery and Randy Thomas.

Passing: The biggest concern for the Redskins this week will be protecting QB Mark Brunell. The Buccaneers have only recorded 16 sacks in eight games, but consistently get pressure on opposing quarterbacks from their athletic front four. Brunell still shows the mobility to buy extra time in the pocket, but he no longer has the quickness and speed to handle pressure on his own like he used to.

The Redskins' offensive line ranks among the league's worst units in terms of sacks allowed (22), which is not a huge surprise considering the overall lack of athleticism in the group. LOT Chris Samuels does a better than average job in pass protection, but draws a difficult match-up versus RDE Simeon Rice this week.

ROT Jon Jansen is also solid in pass protection and should hold his own versus LDE Greg Spires. The biggest problems, however, should come along the interior, where OC Casey Rabach, and OGs Derrick Dockery and Randy Thomas, could struggle to keep Hovan and McFarland out of the backfield.

The Redskins do not match up all that well versus the Bucs' defensive back seven, either. No. 1 WR Santana Moss is much more effective versus man-coverage than he is zone, so he is not likely to live up to expectations versus the Bucs' cover-2. The Redskins have been getting decent production out of veteran WRs David Patten and James Thrash, but neither is capable of stretching the defenses vertically.

Furthermore, the Redskins have the athletes at linebacker (Brroks, Quarles and Nece) to keep Portis, Sellers, Royal and H-Back Chris Cooley in check underneath. As is typically the case, the Redskins will have to do a good job of dinking and dunking down the field when they do throw the ball, and occasionally hope to catch the Buccaneers' linebackers or safeties taking false steps in the play-action passing game.

When the Buccaneers have the ball

Rushing: The Buccaneers must find a way to re-establish their once explosive rushing attack. There have been two major contributing factors to their demise -- Williams' lingering foot injury and the lack of respect that opponents are now showing their passing attack with Simms at quarterback.

The Bucs have gotten much better play from their shuffled offensive line this season, which includes three first-year starters. However, with opponents showing more eight-man fronts and turning more linebackers loose on run blitzes, this group has understandably been unable to open up the same running room over the course of the last two games. This could be the week that Gruden's offense is able to get the run game untracked, as the Redskins are giving up a surprising 119.8 yards per game on the ground.

An important injury situation to monitor is that of DT Cornelius Griffin, who was inactive last week with a hip flexor, but could return this week. ROG Sean Mahan has far exceeded expectations as a first-year starter and should only continue to improve with more experience. He has good quickness and is technically sound. Mahan is at his best when uncovered in pass protection, and when allowed to get out on pulls and traps as a run blocker.

However, Mahan is barely 300 pounds and has had his biggest problems when matched up against explosively powerful defensive tackles like Griffin, who was having a career season for the Redskins prior to his injury. If Griffin is able to go, he should exploit the inexperience of Mahan in this one-on-one matchup. Griffin has three sacks this season and has been an absolute terror versus the run, forcing opponents to run away from him for the most part recently.

If Griffin can use his impressive first-step and short-area power to overwhelm Mahan at the point of attack, it will give an already reeling Buccaneers' offensive line just one more thing to worry about. However, if Griffin is a scratch, it will play considerably into the Buccaneers' favor, as the Redskins suffer a significant drop-off in talent with Ryan Boschetti as their starting LDT. They also have far less depth to work with at the position.

Passing: Not surprisingly, Simms has been ineffective as a starter in the two games since Griese's injury. Simms has completed just 60 percent of his attempts in a high-percentage passing attack, which included a game versus the woeful 49ers' defense.

Simms has thrown twice as many interceptions (four) as touchdown passes (two) in his two starts. The second-year pro shows the arm strength to make all the NFL throws and also shows flashes of touch and accuracy as a passer. However, his mental mistakes are killer. Simms lacks mobility, has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, and is notorious for throwing the ball up for grabs when the pocket collapses around him.

As the 49ers and Panthers have done over the course of the last two games, look for the Redskins to load up the box and keep the pressure coming with a high percentage of blitzes and stunts on Sunday. A healthy return from Griffin would certainly help, but the team also has enough capable pass rushers in SLB Marcus Washington, MLB Lemar Marshall, sub-package DE Demetric Evans and OLB LaVar Arrington to consistently fluster Simms.

RDC Shawn Springs has the man-to-man cover skills to keep WR Michael Clayton under wraps. The Redskins also have an improving nickel cover corner in rookie Carlos Rogers, but LDC Walt Harris is overmatched one-on-one versus Joey Galloway, who has been an explosive weapon, with an average of 16.6 yards per catch this season.

In order to neutralize that mismatch, the Redskins will roll coverages and give Harris deep-safety support from DSs Ryan Clark and Sean Taylor. Also, look for the Redskins to throw a wide variety of coverage looks at the inexperienced second-year pro. With zone-blitzes and mixed man-zone coverage looks, the Redskins should be able to bait Simms into a few critical drive-thwarting mental errors.

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I thought the Cowboys were in a deep cover 2 zone when Moss lit them up for 2 deep TDs.
Roy Williams, for all the hoopla about him, is a poor pass coverage safety. The Bucs' safeties are better than him at that.

They're too easily discounting Moss. It's not like the man only runs fly patterns. He runs every pattern. I think you're going to see a lot of hitches, WR screens and crossing patterns, while we try to feel out the defense and see if we can take a shot deep. Even if we can't throw deep though, it's hard to imagine him getting less than six catches.

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I did a search and did not find it forgive me if is has already been posted.


Furthermore, the Redskins have the athletes at linebacker (Brroks, Quarles and Nece) to keep Portis, Sellers, Royal and H-Back Chris Cooley in check underneath.

I have two questions:

1. Why would the Redskins LB's want to hold Portis, Sellers, and Cooley in check?

2. When did the Redskins pick up Brroks (whoever he is), Quarles, and Nece?


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I thought the Cowboys were in a deep cover 2 zone when Moss lit them up for 2 deep TDs.

In the last few years there have been two teams that have played a standard cover 2 defense in their secondary to almost perfection, and those have been the Bucs and the Pats.

The Pats no longer have the personnel at CB and S to run this defense effectively.

The Bucs no longer have the DT's needed to apply pressure without blitzing the LB's so the SS has to cheat a bit more than they did in the past. Even with this fact, the Bucs play the best cover 2 and cover 3 in football today.

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