Gone are the days of yore, when my favorite thing to watch when the Washington Redskins and New York Giants met on the gridiron was my favorite player, Jon Jansen, battling one of our generation’s premier pass rushers in Michael Strahan. With Strahan following former teammate Tiki Barber off the field and into the studio, and Jansen’s unceremonious removal from the starting line-up, a new rivalry could be in the making.
Justin Tuck made a name for himself as a phenomenal situational pass rusher for the dominating Giants defensive line last season, a line that single-handedly beat Tom Brady into submission in last year’s big game. Tuck was responsible for 10 of the Giants 52 sacks last season – more than Strahan put up. With Osi Umenyiora on the shelf with a season-ending injury and Strahan gone, Tuck will be thrust into the starting line-up. With the under-sized Mathias Kiwanuka manning the other side of the line, the pressure will be on Tuck to perform.
Standing in his way is former Maryland Terrapin and undrafted free agent Stephon Heyer. As someone who watches as many Terp games as possible, I thought Heyer would have been drafted. He played every game at a high level for the Terps, but an injury caused him to fall off the radar of most teams… thank goodness for the Redskins. Heyer stepped up last season when starting tackle Jon Jansen went down with that horrific lower leg injury, playing on the right side even though he played mostly left tackle throughout his career. Joe Bugel is famous for finding diamonds in the rough, and it appears that he has have found another in Heyer.
When all is said and done, Heyer’s success against Tuck will be two-fold. He’ll need to move his feet quickly to pick up the outside rush, and he’ll need to keep his hands inside Tuck’s shoulders to affectively slow down the bullrush. Buges will have him ready and Tuck will be held without a sack.