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Skins Offense vs Bucs Defense- Game Preview


ThatGuy

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On my blog, I'll be going phase by phase through the game. Here is the 1st instalment. Be warned, its a long read:

Wild Card Preview: Redskins Defense vs. Tampa Bay Offense

It is fitting that on a day where Gregg Williams signs a three extension to stay with the Redskins, we take a look at the defense he has built in his tenure with Washington. The Redskins defense, which finished the season ranked 9th in the NFL, is up against the 24th ranked Tampa Bay offense. It looks like a mismatch, but after the Buccaneers scored 36 points in the regular season meeting, the Redskins should know they are in for a challenge.

Expected Starters

Tampa Bay Offense

QB: Chris Simms

RB: Carnell Williams

FB: Mike Alstott

WR: Joey Galloway

WR: **Ike Hilliard

TE: Anthony Becht

OL: K. Walker, S. Mahan, J. Wade, D. Buenning; A. Davis

**Assuming Michael Clayton is out.

Washington Defense

DE: Renaldo Wynn

DT: Cornelius Griffin

DT: Joe Salave’a

DE: Phillip Daniels

SLB: Marcus Washington

MLB: Lemar Marshall

WLB: LaVar Arrington

LCB: Carlos Rogers

RCB: **Walt Harris

SS: Ryan Clark

FS: Sean Taylor

**Assuming Shawn Springs is out.

Passing Game:

Tampa Bay:

Chris Simms 191-313; 61.0%; 10 TD; 7 INT; 81.4 rating

Joey Galloway 83-1287; 10 TD

Alex Smith 41-367; 2 TD

The Tampa Bay passing game is actually similar to the Redskins passing game. They have one dominant receiver and a young tight end has emerged as the 2nd option. The Redskins must focus the majority of their attention on Joey Galloway. Galloway is having a career season at age 34. He surpassed the 1000 yard mark for the 1st time since his Seattle days, and had 10 touchdown receptions. Galloway is the big play threat that gives the Redskins fits. Gregg Williams must try to avoid leaving Walt Harris on Galloway unless he has safety help. Galloway hurt the Redskins in the earlier match-up with 7 catches for 131 yards and 1 touchdown.

Alex Smith is the secondary target. The rookie tight end had a strong season. Tight ends haven’t been much of an issue for the Redskins this year despite playing some of the best in the league. I don’t expect Smith to be any different. While Ike Hilliard will get the start, it is the 3rd receiver who gave the Redskins fits in the earlier match up. Edell Sheppard had his best game of the season against the Skins. He had 4 catches for 87 yards and scored the late touchdown that led to the Buccaneers win. Tampa Bay’s passing attack it rated 25th in the league, although after adjusting for strength of schedule they are bumped up to 16th.

Washington:

Phillip Daniels 8 sacks

Marcus Washington 7.5 sacks, 1 interception

Lemar Marshall 2 sacks, 4 interceptions

Ryan Clark 0.5 sacks, 3 interceptions

The Redskins pass defense had a solid year. They finished up ranked 10th in the league. If you adjust for schedule difficulty, they are bumped up to the seven spot. That being said, this isn’t a unit without weakness. Opponents have been picking on Walt Harris for the majority of the season. It appeared Harris would be bumped back to the nickel corner spot with the return of Carlos Rogers, but an injury to Shawn Springs will force him back into a starting role. Rogers had really begun to emerge before the arm injury that sidelined him for the final few games. The Redskins will need him to return at top form. The safeties are both big hitters. Sean Taylor is an intimidating force and can make the big play. Ryan Clark is a smaller player, but he packs a wallop and is quite underrated.

The pass rush has been inconsistent year, but has improved as the season has moved on. Phillip Daniels in particular, has become a force of late. He has six sacks in the last three games. Cornelius Griffin can get pressure from the middle, but otherwise the Redskins rely on blitzing to get to the quarterback. Marcus Washington is the best pass rushing linebacker on the team and Lemar Marshall has great cover skills for a linebacker. The pass rush will be the key to this contest. The last game, Gregg Williams blitzed consistently, and the lack of pass rush led to many deep balls.

Redskins Pass Defense by the Numbers:

Vs. #1 Receivers: Ranked 6th

Vs. #2 Receivers: Ranked 16th

Vs. Other Receivers: Ranked 13th

Vs. Tight Ends: Ranked 7th

Vs. Running Backs: Ranked 5th

Run Game

Tampa Bay:

Cadillac Williams 290-1178, 4.1 YPC, 6 TD

Michael Pittman 70-436, 6.2 YPC, 1 TD

Mike Alstott 34-80, 2.4 YPC, 6 TD

In September it appeared that the Cadillac was set to break all kinds of NFL records. In each of his 1st three NFL starts he rushed for more than 125 yards. An injury slowed him down and he ended the season with good but not great numbers. In the earlier game, Williams was totally shut down. He had 20 yards on 10 carries, and was very ineffective. He is the type of runner who can break a big one, and that is the kind of back who can give the Redskins trouble. He does however have a tendency to dance around behind the line of scrimmage and that could spell trouble against a swarming Redskins defense. His backup, Michael Pittman, does not dance. He hits the hole as hard as he can and has been dangerous this season. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield. Alstott is used primarily as a short yard back. He has been effective in that role. The Tampa running attack ranks 14th in the league, however they drop to 24th after adjusting for their schedule.

Tampa Run Game by the Numbers (as of Week 16):

Runs around Left End: 4.39ypc (12th)

Runs behind Left Tackle: 4.53ypc (11th)

Runs up the Middle: 3.93ypc (21st)

Runs behind Right Tackle: 3.58 (26th)

Runs around Right End: 2.74 (30th)

Washington:

Lemar Marshall 98 tackles; 2 forced fumbles

Marcus Washington 93 tackles; 3 forced fumbles

Sean Taylor 70 tackles; 2 forced fumbles

The Redskins are a very good defensively against the run. Although the stats show that the Redskins are only ranked 13th, when you make the adjustment for the difficult schedule, they move up to 5th. The Skins have gotten better as the year has progressed. The entire defensive line is very good against the run. Joe Salave’a is one of the best defensive tackles at clogging up the middle and allowing the linebackers to make the tackles.

One thing to watch, the Redskins are very good at forcing fumbles. Recovering them has been an issue, but they have improved in that regard of late. I think this is one aspect of the game where the Redskins have a clear edge. As long they can avoid the big run, I don’t expect Cadillac to get loose.

Redskins Run Defense by the Numbers (as of Week 16):

Runs around Left End: 4.20ypc (15th)

Runs behind Left Tackle: 3.89ypc (11th)

Runs up the Middle: 3.63ypc (7th)

Runs behind Right Tackle: 4.07ypc (15th)

Runs around Right End: 3.14ypc (5th)

Summary

No one expected the Buccaneers to rip off 36 points against the Redskins earlier this season, but they did. I certainly don’t expect them to get anywhere near that figure this week. Simms has toned down his deep ball bonanza showing we saw earlier this year, and I’m sure Gregg Williams will make some adjustments. The most pressing concern for the Redskins is getting some pressure on Simms. In the earlier game, the Redskins didn’t get near him and he tore them apart. I’d expect the Skins to play a bit more conservative this week and see if Simms can dink and dunk his way down the field. I expect a much lower scoring game this time around.

Tomorrow: Redskins Offense vs. Tampa Defense

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