Sunday night football tip sheet

Let’s set the stage for tonight’s game at Fed Ex Field between the Cowboys and Redskins. A pregame tip sheet: notes, game plans and quick hits.

Personnel to watch…

Roy Williams, Cowboys: Can the ‘Boys WR get off of the line of scrimmage and can he separate down the field? I would expect some Cover 2 from the ‘Skins is passing situations to jam him at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the route. QB Tony Romo needs to see production from Williams.

Albert Haynesworth ICONWhat do we see from Haynesworth tonight?

Albert Haynesworth, Redskins: When he is on the field tonight (most likely is passing situations in a four-man front), does he make an impact? Too much drama about this guy right now—time to be a professional and play football.

Clinton Portis, Redskins: This is the best scheme for C.P. He is a one-cut runner with great vision. Let’s see if he still has that burst to get to the second level of the defense.

DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys: Can the Redskins’ block him off the edge? Tough matchup for LT Trent Williams of Washington. A “Welcome to the NFL” type of night for the rookie.

Pregame notes…

Can the Redskins’ produce explosive plays on offense?

Mike Shanahan and the Redskins should expect pressure tonight form the Cowboys defense. Multiple blitz packages that will provide man-to-man situations in the coverage schemes. Look for Washington to get McNabb out of the pocket in the sprint and boot game—which should give him throwing lanes down the field.

Felix JonesICONThe Cowboys' Felix Jones.

Stopping the run

I hear the talk about Romo like everyone else, but to beat Dallas, you have to stop the running game. The Cowboys have three backs in Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice—three backs that fit this offensive scheme. Have to stop the power game and the Lead Draw to put Romo into third and long situations.

Covering Witten

Curious to see how the Redskins’ defend Dallas TE Jason Witten. Wouldn’t surprise me to see safety LaRon Landry drop down from the secondary and play some man and blitz-man coverage against Witten. The key to playing the Cowboys’ TE is using your hands at the line of scrimmage and staying on his up field shoulder with outside leverage. Good matchup to watch with Landry—who plays physical.

Watching McNabb

We all want to see how he performs now that he isn’t running Andy Reid’s west coast offense in Philly. I like this scheme for McNabb and do think we will see him make some plays with Redskins’ TE Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. The throws will be there—he just has to make the plays.

Scheme talk…

‘Skins defense: Washington fans should be familiar with what they will see tonight on the field. A combo of the scheme Gregg Williams used during his time in D.C. and the Steelers’ defense under Dick Lebeau. A 3-4 front that is heavy on zone pressure.

The Screen Game: Mentioned the Lead Draw above in the running game, but keep an eye on Jason Garrett’s screen package in the Cowboys game plan. One way to fight off pressure is to use the screen pass. The Cowboys would love to get Jones in the open field.

The Swap Boot: A play we diagramed here at the NFP recently, and against Dallas, an ideal call after using the run game to set it up. Any play that can get a fast defense to over-pursue to the football is perfect in the play action game.

Quick hits…
- Do the Cowboys have a playmaker in FS Alan Ball? With any pressure defense, the FS position is key.

- London Fletcher is one of the most underrated players in the entire league. If you want to watch a guy play hard—and continually be around the football—check out the ‘Skins MLB tonight.

-I played in this rivalry for three seasons as a Redskin. The speed of the game increases from the preseason to the regular season, and tonight, it will increase even more… these club’s just don’t like each other.

Check back to the NFP tomorrow morning for my Week One Sunday game notes.

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