Key Match-ups

Division rivals, bitter enemies... the Redskins - Giants match ups have always seen some classic individual battles. Perhaps the most publicized (recently) would be pro bowl right tackle Jon Jansen versus pro bowl defensive end Michael Strahan. Until last season, Jansen had been able to not only tame Strahan but to dominate him. Last year however, Strahan's record breaking sack season, Strahan beat Jansen consistently in their two match-ups and registered 3 1/2 sacks.

Jon Jansen v. Michael Strahan
By Mark Solway

Normally the week of this classic match up is highlighted by the back and forth banter of these two warriors as they trash talk each other through the media. Jansen did not even want to talk about Strahan this week though, and seemed distant and quiet. Whether he is down about the Redskins play of late, or their inability to sign Jansen to a contract extension, he wasn't firing his regular insults in the direction of the Giants star DE.

On Friday, Chris Samuels picked up the trash talking for Jansen for some unknown, apparently unprovoked reason; ""[Jansen] already has a name for himself and it will just grow a little greater when he goes out there and kicks Strahan's behind." Strahan retorted, "Three-and-a-half sacks last year, that's all I've got to say. And tell Chris that it's easy to talk when he knows he doesn't have to come over there and face me. Tell him he is more than welcome to line up on the right side. I guarantee he won't be celebrating."

On the field, the match up pits two of the league's best at their respective positions, both of whom have struggled this season. Strahan has only managed to register 6 sacks, disappointing after 22 only a year ago. Jansen on the other hand has been beat consistently and by lesser ends than Strahan. His form has improved of late, and the added help of Tre Johnson at RG has allowed Jansen to show glimmers of his old self. The Redskins game plan should be to run all day with the return of Stephen Davis and the bad weather forecast. Look for the Redskins to go right at Strahan early and blow him off the line. Jansen and Johnson are too big and too strong for anyone in the NFL to stop and the Skins would do well to start exploiting that strength now that Tre should be in decent game shape. Getting obliterated in the running game tends to make an end a little less effective in pass rush and it will be essential to keeping Strahan in check

If the Redskins can't keep Strahan off balance, he will wreak havoc in the backfield. His speed and instinct will destroy the pocket and force Shane Matthews to improvise -- something he hasn't shown a great affinity for. Strahan is one of the league's best pass rushers, if not the best. Jansen will have to regain the form that has betrayed him to date and use his dominant run-blocking to re-gain his mental edge. Run the ball and Strahan's pass rush ability becomes moot

Kerry Collins vs. LaVar Arrington
By Martin Collinson

With the always swirling wind at the Meadowlands augmented by a pretty horrendous weather forecast, added to two struggling offenses... and this weeks match up with the Giants does not figure to be a high scoring affair.

The Giants offense is pretty much a reflection of QB Kerry Collins ........ mediocre. Collins has great physical tools and a decent arm but always struggles to raise his game beyond the average. He's a bit like Shane Matthews for the Skins (but with an NFL arm) in that he will probably not lose you the game - just don't rely on him winning it for you. For the Giants to be effective offensively they will rely on the running of Tikki Barber (who has gone over 100 yards the last two games) as well as Collins being successful spreading the ball to short and medium receivers. The Giants passing game is not helped by injuries to their 2nd (Ike Hilliard) and 3rd (Ron Dixon) wideouts though Toomer is a legit deep threat for ther Big Blue with a healthy 15 yard average on 39 catches this season.

Look for Collins to look to go to Toomer early to make the Skins respect their willingness to go deep. However the real contest could well be covering Tikki Barber out of the backfield and Jeremy Shockey over the middle.

For the Skins defensively La Var Arrington is the key man in stopping the Giants. He leads the Skins this year with 8 sacks and is also third on the team with 37 tackles. His ability to get in the Giants backfield to put pressure on Collins will be a key factor in disrupting the Giants fragile passing game. Arrington also has the speed to cover Tikki Barber who with 47 ctaches and is a major factor in the passing game. The game could well come down to how effectivley the Skins can keep Barber in check and force Collins to do something he has not shown he can do with any frequency - win the game throwing the ball down the field.

Jason Sehorn vs. Rod Gardner
By Eric Johnson

The onfield Jason Sehorn, New York Giants CB, is a somewhat embittered version of his former self these days. He's no longer the wicked cover corner who went up against every premiere receiver. He suffered from knee problems last season and now he's playing nickel corner, having slowly recovered from microfracture surgery in January. He's angling to be a safety next season if he can't regain his starting job as a cornerback. Off the field, things are looking good--he's ubiquitous in NYC, increasingly involved in the media (likely preparation for a post-NFL career), and is married to the stunning actress Angie Harmon.

But it's Sehorn's performance between the whistles that may or may not affect the Redskins this weekend. He's had a steady if not spectacular season as a role-player: twenty tackles and 1 INT for a touchdown. His attitude is a question, though, especially when confronted with going up against premiere receivers as a nickel back. "It doesn't matter," Sehorn said when asked about his rematch with Randy Moss. "I don't play anyway. I'm nickel. Put things in perspective. Why are you talking to me? Talk to the two starters."

That attitude issue will be good news for Rod Gardner, who has been having an up-and-down year as the Redskins' de facto number one wideout (inasmuch as the B&G have someone who can claim that position). Gardner has shown flashes that he can be a legitimate starter--particularly last week in front of his home town crowd in Jacksonville, where he played with real passion. This season he's caught 39 passes for 561 yards and 4 touchdowns (including one in each of the last two games), on pace for a solid second year. The Redskins will probably try to set up some advantageous matchups against the Giants' secondary. Though Gardner will see a steady dose of starting CBs Will Peterson and Will Allen, the 'Skins will want to match him up when possible against Jason Sehorn so he can play the kind of possession football on which he thrives. A couple of strong catches, and Sehorn might be found off sulking in a corner.

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