Pre-Game Primer: Redskins vs. Chiefs

The Chiefs had better be prepared for an old fashioned donnybrook when they face the Washington Redskins later today at Arrowhead. Initially this game was thought to be one of the easier games on the Chiefs schedule but the Redskins have stormed in to 2005 as one of the better and more physical teams in the NFL.

Just ask the Chiefs arch rivals the Denver Broncos how good Washington is. One week ago they marched in to Invesco Field, took the Bronco's best shot and that punched them right back square in the nose. This was the same Broncos team that physically dominated the Chiefs only two weeks earlier so to say the Redskins will be a stiff challenge for a struggling Chiefs ball club is an understatement. With that being said the Chiefs should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays and win this game.

Chiefs Offense vs. Redskins Defense
Any time you insert a Hall of Fame player in to your lineup it makes a difference and having Willie Roaf back as the starting left tackle will be a huge boost to the Chiefs offense. Roaf is still the best offensive tackle in the league and you can usually count on him negating two defenders to his side every Sunday. Today those two defenders will be defensive end Phillip Daniels and All-Pro linebacker Marcus Washington. Both of them are talented players but they haven't seen the likes of Roaf.

You can also expect to see the return of the stretch play to the left side now that Roaf has returned. This play is a staple of the Chiefs offense and it is highly doubtful that the Washington defense will be able stop it. When the Chiefs run this play against the Redskins you will likely see Jason Dunn lined up outside of Willie Roaf. Left guard Brian Waters will block down and kick out the defensive end Daniels, Dunn will block to the inside and seal the outside backer Washington while Roaf releases in to the flat as a 330lb lead blocker against a corner or safety. Chiefs fans know this play all to well and even when a defense knows it is coming they still rarely ever stop it.

As far as the interior of the offensive line goes Waters, Wiegmann and Shields will be matched up against defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave'a along with middle linebacker Lemar Marshall. The interior of the Chiefs offensive line usually has a great deal of success against similar personnel types and groupings. I really like the match up in Kansas City's favor and the Chiefs should attack the middle of this Redskins defense both early and often. If they do the game will blow wide open.

The Chiefs ability to handle the left side of the Washington defense could be a deciding factor in this Sunday's game. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn and outside linebacker Warrick Holdman are both solid players and it will be interesting to see how well they perform against Will Shields, Jordan Black, and Tony Gonzalez. With that being said the match up between Black and Wynn should be one of the Chiefs main concerns as Wynn is a crafty veteran who could create some serious problems for the Black and Chiefs offense. If Black begins to struggle the Chiefs will have to slide protection to his side and in many cases that extra protection is Tony Gonzalez. In this game it will be imperative that Gonzalez remain constant threat to catching the ball because he is the key to controlling Washington's best weapon on defense, free safety Sean Taylor.

Tony Gonzalez will draw coverage from Taylor all day but this only happens if Gonzalez is out running patterns. If Gonzalez has to play the role of a blocking tight end this will leave the highly athletic, highly ferocious Taylor free to roam the field and break up plays. Under the guidance of defensive mastermind Greg Williams, Taylor has the ability to be a one man wrecking crew against the Chiefs offense (remember Julian Peterson in the 49ers game of 2002? Taylor has that kind of ability). In the end Taylor may very well shut down Gonzalez but in doing so he will free up Eddie Kennison, Sammie Parker, Marc Boerigter, and Priest Holmes to make plays.

Concerning other match ups in the secondary it is unlikely that right corner Shawn Springs will struggle against receiver Sammie Parker but Marc Boerigter and Eddie Kennison should play really well against Walt Harris and the rookie starter Carlos Rogers. This is especially true if the Chiefs play Boerigter in the slot from a one back set while Gonzalez is still in the game. In most instances this means Boerigter will either draw a nickel corner (likely Harris) or a linebacker in which one is either who is too small or too slow to cover him.

Bottom line
The Redskins have yet to face an offense with a much fire power as Kansas City. They have the Redskins defense out matched when it comes to talent so the Chiefs just need to go out there and play their kind of game and set the tempo.

Redskins Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
On offense it is likely that the Redskins will try to take a page out of the Denver Bronco playbook and attack the Chiefs with misdirection plays, cutbacks, and bootlegs. Once again it will be up to the defensive ends and linebackers to play disciplined football and handle their own responsibilities before they worry about another players gap. Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis are a very capable combination when it comes to exploiting this weakness in the Chiefs defense.

The Redskins possess the best offensive line that the Chiefs have faced to this point in the season. The interior of their line is lead by the outstanding center Casey Rabach who happens to be the best player in this especially tough group. Right guard Randy Thomas is also a highly regarded player at his position while left guard Derrick Dockery is a young yet massive player who is beginning to come in to his own. John Browning, Lional Dalton, and Kawika Mitchell will have their work cut out for them in this game and it is critical that the interior of the Chiefs hold their own at the point of attack. I promise you that offensive coordinator Don Breaux will run right at the A and B gaps with Clinton Portis both early and often. In all probability the Chiefs will have to bring strong safety Sammy Knight closer to the line of scrimmage to play the run if they have any chance of stopping Portis. The last thing the Chiefs want to see is Portis reclaiming his championship belt and it will be up to their big men in the middle to keep it from happening.

The Redskins like to use a lot of power formations, max protections, and big sets. This means they usually have most of their players crammed in to or flanking the tackle box. This also means it is highly unlikely that the Chiefs will have much success getting pressure on the quarterback from the edge of their defense. It is tough enough getting past offensive tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen not to mention the tight end and running backs left in on pass protection. Things become a little more scary if the Redskins realize they don't need to keep all of those players in to foil the Chiefs pass rush. If that winds up being the case their h-back Chris Cooley will become a major factor in the game.

Santana Moss and David Patten are the Redskins top two receivers with James Thrash coming in from time to time as their third receiver. If the Chiefs play them correctly they will leave safety Greg Wesley deep with Patrick Surtain and Dexter McCleon on man coverage underneath. Since Sammy Knight will be needed in run support for most of the game Patrick Surtain will have to go out and earn his paycheck today and that means shutting down Santana Moss. Surtain and Moss are no strangers to one another either as they have faced one another twice a year in the AFC East when Surtain was a Dolphin and Moss was a Jet.

In fact, over their careers the two have faced one another in seven games. In that seven game stretch Moss was held to a mere 16 receptions, 288 yards, and one touchdown. If Chiefs fans are fortunate Surtain will keep that streak alive for one more year. On the opposite side the Chiefs can roll Wesley to McCleon's side if he is having trouble with Patten but let me just say that not playing Eric Warfield in this game is a big mistake. I think he would have been a great match up against David Patton and given the defense more options on their blitz packages.

Bottom Line
The Chiefs top priority will be stopping the run and this week they can afford to play eight men in the box. The Chiefs defensive ends and linebackers must also play within their responsibilities (which is ironically what makes the Redskins defense as good as they are). Should the Redskins start breaking off big runs this game will turn in to a shoot out in a hurry.

Special Teams
Lawrence Tynes, Dustin Colquitt, and Dante Hall versus Nick Novak, James Thrash, and Derrick Frost is a no contest. The Redskins struggling rookie kicker Nick Novak only needs to send one short or wayward kick to Dante Hall for a lightning quick six points. Novak kicking to Hall is the most lopsided match up of the game.

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