By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 26, 2008
Greg Blache is a realist. He knows quite well that against an offense as good as the one the Washington Redskins will face Sunday -- Blache compared the Dallas Cowboys of 2008 to the New England Patriots of 2007 -- a defense is not going to take away everything all the time. Can't happen. No defense is going to do that.
But the Redskins take the same approach: stop the run, eliminate the big play. If Dallas has a bunch of 10- or 15-play drives that result in touchdowns and the Cowboys win, then you tip your hat to them. But you have to make them earn it. You can't give them 50-yard scores from blown coverage. Not if you expect to win.
"You never want to beat yourself," said Blache, the Redskins' defensive coordinator. "There's no forgiveness in that. We don't want to give up big plays. We want to make them earn everything."
There are matchup problems all over the place. Blache agreed that the Redskins don't have a defender who can just concentrate on tight end Jason Witten all day. They don't have a single defensive back or linebacker who can "lock up" on him. The team has to mix principles and schemes, and Rocky McIntosh and Chris Horton have to combine their efforts.
Likewise, in the running game, it's going to take numbers to stop the tandem of Marion Barber and Felix Jones. One will run defenders over like few others in the game ("If he wasn't a Cowboy, I'd really like him," Blache said of Barber), and the other will just burn right past ("Jones has blazing speed," Blache said).
Blache resisted requests to open up about his tendency toward playing more coverage rather than blitzing much the last few weeks against high-powered attacks. "Don't pigeonhole us," he said. Obviously, the score, position of the ball, down and distance will impact how much or how little he blitzes. Blache maintained, "If we have to go, we'll go."
As for personnel, Blache praised the continuing development of Kedric Golston inside. He is beating some double-teams and getting better penetration this season. Blache also said he will wait to decide whether to activate Erasmus James or rookie Rob Jackson to take Jason Taylor's spot on Sunday, as the Redskins will be dressing another defensive end in his place. Taylor underwent surgery Monday morning to relieve compartment syndrome in his leg and some of his teammates fear he may be out a considerable amount of time, given how hobbled he was yesterday.
Demetric Evans is in line to start, but given his role playing tackle in nickel packages and other duties, Coach Jim Zorn said the Redskins may use a rotation there. Chris Wilson is likely to play as a rush end on third downs, and the Redskins hope James can get over his knee problems to be active this week. "It could be a committee" replacing Taylor, Zorn said.
Linebacker Marcus Washington has played as an end before and practiced with the defensive line in the past, but Zorn said he does not expect Washington to be used there much this week. "That's not necessarily where we have him slated," Zorn said.More Injury News
Zorn said rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly is not ready to play Sunday, but hopes that Stephon Heyer can start at right tackle.
Heyer's left shoulder still is sore, but he has regained his range of motion. Heyer could practice fully tomorrow, and Zorn said he would list him as questionable for now.
"If it's game time [until they decide whether Heyer can play], then it's game time," Zorn said.
Kelly's ankle has not healed, and Zorn said he continues to get intense treatment. . . .
Fullback Mike Sellers (quad) returned to practice.Zorn on the Rivalry
Sunday afternoon will be Zorn's first crack at the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, and he admits it's a bit new to him. Certainly he appreciates the history and intensity (he remembers the Clint Longley game, and his first NFL game was a preseason game against the Cowboys at Texas Stadium) and is excited to be part of it, but he hasn't lived it yet.
"I just don't have the animosity yet, you know what I mean?" Zorn said. "And I'm the head football coach here and we're supposed to. But I'm sure I'll get there at some point down the road here. We did with the Raiders [when Zorn was a quarterback and assistant coach with Seattle]. So if it's anything like the Seahawk and Raider rivalry, there's certain things that create that, and I'm just waiting for it."