Today's Key Matchups

This week's game against the Jaguars has a classic matchup of two NFL heavyweights at their respected positions. The Redskins OT Jon Jansen faces off against Jaguar and former Redskin DE Marco Coleman. Coleman played for the Redskins for three seasons (1999-2001) where he enjoyed a career best season in 2000 when he tallied 12.0 sacks before leaving the Redskins for the big money of free agency in Jacksonville.

Jon Jansen v. Marco Coleman
By Les Barnhart

Coleman and Jansen will be facing off for the first time as opponents. The two squared off many times in practice during the time that Coleman spent as a Redskin. No doubt that each man has great respect for the other.

Jansen is in his fourth NFL season after being drafted in the second round out of the University of Michigan in 1999. He has started every game for the Redskins and continues to anchor a Washington offensive line that has seen more than it's share of change. Not only has the offensive scheme changed numerous times since Jansen has arrived but this season he has seen an offensive line by committee as injuries and the dreaded salary cap have decimated the line. Jon Jansen is in a group of young and very strong offensive linemen in the NFL, the new breed so to speak. At 6' 6" and 306lbs, he is quite a specimen. A true Hog in all his glory.

Marco Coleman is now in his eleventh NFL season, having been drafted out of the Georgia Tech program in 1992 in the first round by the Miami Dolphins. After spending four seasons in Miami, he headed to the San Diego Chargers where he played until joining the Redskins in 1999. Coleman has always been a great defensive end and is currently one of the best defensive players on the Jaguars team. Although Coleman isn't having a statistically impressive season (only 13 tackles and 2 sacks in 8 games) he is part of a defense that has played some good football. In fact, he was an integral part of the Jaguars upset win over the Eagles. In that game, Coleman registered a critical sack of Donovan McNabb to help preserve the 3-point victory. Marco Coleman may be considered a bit undersized at 6'3" and 270lbs, but he doesn't use his size to beat opponents. He likes to use his speed, quickness and long arms to avoid blockers.

This battle shapes up to be one of the more impressive ones that will be going on down in "the trenches". Both players have a great deal of familiarity with each other and both have different strengths. The major focus might not be the combatant's strengths, but rather how well the other can exploit their opponent weaknesses. Both teams will be looking to these players for big games. Coleman is Jacksonville's best defensive lineman and he is facing Washington's best offensive lineman.

ADVANTAGE: Personally, this former lineman sees the advantage going to the younger, stronger Jon Jansen. I believe that Jansen can control Coleman despite the quickness that Coleman possesses. Coleman may get a few tackles but I don't see him being able to consistently beat Jansen.

Mark Brunell vs. LaVar Arrington

Mark Brunell hasn't been having a great year. He suffered his second concussion in twelve months in mid-October on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Tennessee Titans' CB Somari Rolle. He's had some problems connecting with his receivers for big plays. He's fumbled three times. Even so, his individual stats aren't too bad. Yet the Jaguars find themselves on a four-game losing streak

The Jaguars QB, known for his mobility and consistent play, goes up against an improving Washington defense and--bad news for Brunell--LaVar Arrington has to be pretty happy about it. So far this year, Jaguars quarterbacks have been sacked fifteen times. Thirty-two passes have been defensed by the opposing team. Of those fifteen sacks, linebackers have been in on seven and defensive ends on seven (left ends on three). Of the defensed passes, linebackers account for five and ends for five (two by left ends)

So the pickings would appear ripe--the stage set--for one of the league's most talented linebackers, who also just happens to be improving his play at end on long-yardage passing situations. So far this year, LaVar Arrington has seven sacks--after only having 4.5 in both his prior seasons combined. He has defensed 6 passes. In particular, look for LaVar to bring it big when Mark Brunell goes back into the shotgun. Of those fifteen sacks, nine have been while the QB is in that formation; of the thirty-two defensed passes, fifteen came while in shotgun. But that doesn't even explain the swiss-cheese nature of the Jaguars O-line (123 sacks in two and a half seasons), especially while in shotgun: eight out of the last eight sacks given up by the line came while Brunell was back taking that snap through the air.

Advantage: Arrington... It might just get a little ugly out there

Kenny Watson vs. Jaguars run defense
By Mark Solway
Kenny Watson will get his second NFL start this week against the Jags. His debut last week was impressive with 110 yards rushing (23 carries) and 152 total yards. He was very patient waiting for the offensive line to open holes for him, and they obliged him with gaping holes to run through. The Skins were able to easily handle the Seahawks 30th ranked run defense. This week, Watson again faces a weak run defense from Jacksonville (26th). Despite the Spurrier homecoming and the anticipated 'air raid'.... Watson will get a lot of touches, both running and passing.

The Jags defense has struggled to account for the loss of DE Tony Brackens. Last week, the Giants consistently ran Tiki Barber on tosses and sweeps right at replacement end Rob Meier. Barber had 101 yards. Watson has the quickness to run these same plays and with Chris Samuels looking after Meier, look for the Redskins to continue to exploit this weakness. Adding to the Jags struggles, DT Marcus Stroud strained a knee ligament last Sunday and though he is expected to play, he did not practice all week

Advantage: Watson. 25 carries for 126 yards. 1 TD

TRE WATCH: It would be irresponsible to not talk about the Big Banga when analyzing the Redskins running game. Big # 77 should be able to play even more this week and perhaps we'll be treated to a counter trey or two. Last week, Johnson was effective in both pass and run protection. The Redskins look to continue to bring him along slowly to lessen any chance of injury, and improve his conditioning, but his presence is undeniably positive.

Jimmy Smith vs. Champ Bailey
By Martin Collinson

The Redskins defense seems to be coming to grips with Marv Lewis's defensive scheme in the last couple of weeks. Following some inconsistent performances in the first few weeks - especially against the run - we now rank 10th overall in defense. Critically the last two weeks we have held the opposition to less than 90 yards rushing. If there is still an achilles heel for the 'Skins defense its third down pass defense. Which could be a problem again this week against the Jags as Mark Brunnell to Jimmy Smith is still one of the most dangerous pass/catch combos in the NFL despite both guys having a few miles on the clock. Jimmy Smith is one of the great stories of a guy who beat the odds in the NFL. He spent his first two years in the league with the Cowboys, but hardly got a look before being cut. Jacksonville got one of the all time NFL steals when they picked him up. In his ten year career (really 8 years since he spent most of his first two years injured or warming the bench) he has caught 627 passes for 8,863 yards and 75 TDs. In two of these years - one being last season - he caught well over 100 balls. Thus far this season he has 43 catches for 603 yards and 3 TDs.One of those TDs came last week against the Giants when he also had a further 9 receptions on the night for 123 yards.

He is a dangerous and productive receiver. He has never been a real burner and has probably lost a step but he has great awareness and runs excellent routes. His hands are exceptional - he hardly ever drops a ball he should catch - though he had a critical drop last week against the Giants and you can be sure he is determined that will not happen again this week

The job of covering Smith will mainly fall to Champ Bailey - one of the premier cover corners in the league. Champ excels in man to man coverage. He has all the speed and athletic ability he will need to match Smith stride for stride. Champ (6- 0 200) also matches up well physically with Smith (6-1 213) who is not the kind of receiver to out muscle defenders. Bailey had his best game of the season last week against the Hawks.

If Brunnell gets time to set look and throw Smith is a guy who can beat any corner. If the Skins can get a decent rush on Brunnell look for Bailey to do an excellent job holding Smith to well under 100 yards. If this happens the Skins win.

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