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Posted at 10:23 AM ET, 12/15/2010

Redskins-Cowboys keys to the game: defense

By LaVar Arrington

The Redskins defense had an inspired performance last Sunday but came up short on some plays that cost the team, most notably the two point conversion they gave up. If the Redskins are to beat the Cowboys this Sunday, this is what the defense will have to do.

Their first big challenge will be to be strong up front and stop or at the least slow down the Cowboys running game. It will be important to keep Dallas as one dimensional as possible. The reason is, with an injury depleted secondary, they will need as much help as possible from the linebackers and pass rush.

If the defense can stop the run I believe Jason Garrett and the Cowboys will turn to the pass. Now here's where it gets complicated. The Redskins pass rush has been very ineffective this year but if they can stop the run they will know that the Cowboys will be passing the ball. This will allow the defense to focus more on coverage and pressure.

Which leads me into my second point: The defense must have better pass coverage. Coming into this game Dallas will be thinking that they have an advantage in the passing game. Jim Hasslett will need to be aggressive and creative with his pressures. He will also need to try and mix and disguise coverages to try and force a bad throw.

Jon Kitna is a veteran quarterback. He will have good knowledge of coverages and will be able to read blitzes. But if Haslett is creative it shouldn't matter if Kitna is trying to pre-read the point of attack.

The Redskins secondary doesn't match up well with the Dallas receiving core athletically so they will have to be physical when they can. If there is a catch made they will need to tackle immediately. The Cowboys are without wide receiver Dez Bryant and that helps, but there are still plenty of weapons on the Dallas roster that the Redskins will need to focus on.

Turnovers. The defense can help itself and the offense if it can find a way to cause some turnovers. DeAngelo Hall has been a lone master of creating turnovers for the defense this season. If they can get some big hits and some calculated pass coverages that confuse Kitna they should be able to cause a couple turnovers.

So here it is: Stop the run, stop the pass and cause turnovers. If the Redskins do this they will win this phase of the game. That said, due to the injuries in the Redskins secondary and the lack of pass rush I have to give the edge to the Cowboys.

By LaVar Arrington  | December 15, 2010; 10:23 AM ET
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Next: Hard Hits with LaVar: The All-Met episode


agree with you Lavar,but we all know that them Skins wil find a way to lose this game even if they can slow Dallas run game.and they be able to count some holding penalty this time because without that they lose the first game this season.

Posted by: rayf1977 | December 16, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, the below (from Dallas media)will be the key ingredient to a Redskin victory:

"Home Record Tied for Worst in NFL:
The Cowboys enter their final home game of 2010 tied with Carolina for worst home record in the NFL at 1-6. This is Dallas' worst record at home since the 1989 team went 0-8.

A victory over Washington (5-8) on Sunday would keep the 4-9 Cowboys from matching the second-most home losses in franchise history."


Posted by: DeployedFan | December 16, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

You get paid for this LaVar???

Defense needs to be better against then run, then stop the pass and pressure the QB!? Ummmmm... Duh!!!! Did your magic 8-ball tell you that? I'm expecting a little more from someone who actually lined up with our Skins defense.

Your opinions might be relevant to a bunch of 3rd graders or soccer fanatics, but next time you address actual football fans,,,, maybe you can do more then state the obvious.

Posted by: bussman24 | December 16, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Bussman, you got to read in between the lines. Haslett has to "get creative" because the D-line players will not win their individual battles. Find a way to get someone in unblocked and hope Kitna does not make a good hot read. And don't expect any coverage sacks. LaVar is saying that Kitna will have time to throw to open receivers.

Posted by: chuckv | December 16, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I can buy that ChuckV, thanks for point out that angle. I guess my question to LaVar would be how does Haslett stop the run (presumably by putting 7-8 in the box), while disguising coverages!? Kinda hard to disguise coverages when you're only dropping 3-4 guys. We don't have the skill or discipline to match-up the corners and play a safety-top zone,,, which would be one of the only ways you can line up to stop the run first (if that is indeed your priority), and disguise any coverages. Corners up in bump-n-run and a 2 deep safety requires 4 guys... that leaves 7 for the box. Plus an OLB on Whitten. So now we have 6 in the box to stop the run and rush the passer. In a 3-4, we are not (or cannot) generate enough pass rush to accomplish both.

Either way, I'm not looking forward to the ass kicking we are about to receive... and it kills me to say that.

Posted by: bussman24 | December 16, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey rayf1977 (aka #cowboysfan)

Look at the tape again. The redskins didn't win that game on a penalty they won it on what would have been an Orakpo Sack if he had not been held it was a good call. If the officiating corp is actually paying attention in this game (unlike in the TB game), and can put a stop to the holding of one of the best new OLB's in the NFL, we'll see if Kitna can run.

Posted by: Don30 | December 16, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

the skins can't stop Lake Braddock. take out orapahoe and it is bum street squared. they might get 42 hung on them this weekend unless the other team just comes out flat and uninspired because they are playing the Caps, er Wiz, or Nats, or D.C.United... or any other habitual loser we put on the road. City of champions... Go Darkskins...

Posted by: doyouktt | December 17, 2010 5:45 AM | Report abuse

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