Week 5 Matchup

The Redskins (1-2) desperately need a win and are starting a quarterback who hasn't produced lately. The Titans (1-3) probably need a win even worse. And they're playing at home. Here's a preview of the Redskins game against the Titans, which starts at 1 p.m. ET.

Offensive player to watch: Quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Tennessee's secondary is aching, especially if Samari Rolle can't play. So the Titans are vulnerable through the air--if the Redskins can make them pay. We're a big proponent of running Stephen Davis, but we also know what a defense's weakness is and, right now, the Titans is pass defense. Wuerffel has shown he's not the kind of quarterback who can come in off the bench and revive a team. Maybe he's like a finesse pitcher who isn't suited for relief, but can start. The Redskins had better hope that's the case. If Wuerffel can't look good Sunday, then he's done. Or, at least, should be.

Defensive player to watch: Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. He must do a better job filling his gaps to stop Eddie George. This would be a good game for Trotter to get mentally healthy. As much as anyone, Trotter is struggling with playing in a new defense. In Philly, he could fill one of two gaps; here, it's only one. And it must be the right one. Too often it hasn't been, but the extra week should have helped Trotter. Look for a big game Sunday.

The numbers say: Wuerffel will be sacked a few times. In his career, Wuerffel has been sacked once for ever 6.2 pass attempts, an unheard of amount. Also, in Wuerffel's previous six starts, his team was shut out three times. And, in his previous four outings this season, he hasn't led a scoring drive.

Keep your eye on: Redskins safety Sam Shade. Why? Because Frank Wycheck likely will again become a key target for McNair, especially with leading receiver Derrick Mason sidelined. Shade won't be the only one responsible for Wycheck, but he'll be locked on him a few times.

Welcome back: tight end Walter Rasby. There's still some question as to whether or not he'll play. But Rasby's presence will boost the protection. He's a versatile blocker, able to recognize blitzes quickly, etc., and able to slide down the line and help out when necessary. The tight ends haven't been a problem, but Rasby will help.

Titan to watch: Safety Tank Williams. The kid hits hard, making his first name an appropriate one.

Time to worry: About Redskins tackle Chris Samuels? It might be. Samuels missed practice time these past two weeks with a thigh and groin injury, including Thursday. Samuels says he'll tough it out, but it's cause for concern that he hasn't been fully healthy, or close to it, in a couple months. Titan end Carlos Hall has four sacks, but three came in one game. Still, he'll be a tough matchup if Samuels isn't close to healthy. This could be a game where Samuels gets by on brains. Surely he knows that Hall has one move--to the outside--and hasn't developed a counter move.

Time for joy: It could be for LaVar Arrington as a rush end. He'll be matched against Titan tackle Fred Miller, who struggles on inside rushes.

Why the Redskins will win: Because Tennessee is banged up and maybe the Titans just aren't any good. Their leading receiver (Derrick Mason) is out and their top rusher (Jevon Kearse) is still out. After Mason, none of the wideouts are scary and all will be asked to play unfamiliar roles. Kevin Dyson as a No. 1 receiver? Sorry, doesn't cut it. Meanwhile, the Redskins have had two weeks to lick their wound and examine their mistakes. It's time for the defense to start meshing and put up a grand showing--this is the game to start rebuilding that confidence. They must still concern themselves with Eddie George, Frank Wycheck and Steve McNair, but they have the talent to combat each one of them.

Why they won't: Because of the quarterback. There's not a lot of difference between NFL teams anymore. Which makes having a quality quarterback the difference-maker. Steve McNair is better than Wuerffel and that could be the difference in the game. Also, the Titans are a desperate team playing at home. Another loss and their playoff hopes are severly dashed. Desperate home teams are tough to go against.


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