The lack of Shawn Springs necessitates considerable change in our defensive game plan. Coaches must work with their personnel on a week by week basis and, as such, Gregg Williams probably feels a bit vulnerable in the secondary. Kenny Watson starts where Carlos Rogers should be, and Carlos Rogers starts where Shawn Springs should be. Mike Rumph will be exactly where we need him least: on the field. Mike, I want nothing more than to feel like an idiot for lambasting you as an unreliable CB here and here. Get out there and make me eat my foot.
Thus we are left with two dismal options. We can adjust our normal blitz-heavy gameplan as we did in a losing effort against the Vikings. Or we could throw caution to the wind and attack the Statuesque Drew Bledsoe. The downside here is that it leaves our already questionable secondary facing T.O., Terry Glenn, and Jason Witten -- with little help over the top.
Having weighed the two options carefully, I've decided that last week's conservative approach just will not work. Brad Johnson had all the time in the world because we didn't blitz, our front four did not get any push, and still he beat us deep repeatedly. He beat us in the middle of the field (and everywhere, really) on 3rd down with ease. He just plain beat us. Now Drew Bledsoe may or may not be a better QB than Johnson, but I know that Terry Glenn and T.O. are better than Travis Taylor and Troy "Hands" Williamson. Given time they will be open on the field.
Waiting and hoping on our front four to get the push they need is neither realistic nor proactive. Sure, the Cowboys offensive line is weak, but we haven't seen much of a pass rush from anyone on the Redskins. A conservative defensive plan also plays against our defensive coaching strength, which is Gregg Williams' aggressive play calling.
Take last year's games, as an example. In week one when we were bailed out by Santana Moss in the last few minutes of the game. We should not gamble on that happening again, though I do hope for Moss to have another excellent game. "Hoping something great happens at the end of the game" is not a defensive strategy. Though we ultimately won the game, we allowed Bill Parcells to set the tempo of the game by protecting a lead and protecting the Quarterback. Zero sacks and zero turnovers made for a much closer 14-13 victory than many of us would have preferred (though I was thrilled to have the win).
Fast forward to December 18th, 2005. The Redskins have 7 sacks (5 of them from D-Linemen though) and the result is a 35-7 beauty. The pressure on Bledsoe results in 3 interceptions and 1 lost fumble. Dallas gets rolled and the Redskins head to the postseason 3 weeks later. What other parallels can we draw? The Redskins did all this without one of their starting CBs (Carlos Rogers).
Obviously the front four had a great push last year in our second game, and it's fine to hope for much of the same. But from what we've seen so far in this short season, I'm not willing to wait. I would rather play Redskins/Williams style defense and attack a weak line and an immobile quarterback, throwing him off his rhythm early in the game and possibly generating a turnover, then sit back gnawing my fingers as he finds time to hit T.O. and Terry Glenn in stride all over the field. Given enough time, those receivers will torch our secondary, and I'd rather be proactive towards getting at Bledsoe then remain (perhaps naively) hopeful that the problem will take care of itself.
Gregg Williams, please please please go after Dallas with the same aggressive gameplan you've used while leading one of the best defenses in the league.
Tell me how crazy and wrong I am in the comments section.