It's week 4 and the Redskins travel to Cleveland Browns Stadium for a 1:00pm game that will see the two 1-2 teams battle it out. One of them will be back on the road to respectability with a win and a 2-2 record. The other will not only fall to 1-3, but will see their season's playoff hopes likely dashed already just 4 games into the season.
Chris Samuels vs. Kenard Lang
By Scott Hurrey
The Washington Redskins drafted Kenard Lang out of the University of Miami in the first round (17th overall) in the 1997 draft. Nine years and 109 games later, Lang finds himself playing for his college coach, Butch Davis in Cleveland.
Lang is off to a fast start in 2004, leading the AFC in sacks with four resulting in a loss of 31 yards. Though it sounds impressive, three of them came against Baltimore’s backup offensive tackle in week one.
During his 5 years in burgundy and gold, Samuels has established himself as one of the premier tackles in the league leading to two pro-bowl appearances in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, Samuels made the squad as a third alternate, leading the massive tackle to spend the off-season working on technique with Joe Bugel and getting back to his ideal playing weight at 310 pounds. In 2001, Samuels weighed approximately the same and turned in his finest season as a professional, not allowing a sack until week 13.
Samuels is also have a decent year thus far, but there is certainly room for improvement. In three weeks the offensive line has given up 9 sacks, with Chris’ primary opponents accounting for three of them.
Lang has stated that his favorite pass-rush technique was to use a head fake to draw his opponent one way and then use the swim technique to blow by his opponent. That technique allows Lang to take advantage of his speed to disrupt the offensive backfield. Samuels faced another speed guy during week one of the season when he held Tampa Bay’s Simeon Rice to three tackles and zero sacks. Samuels has extremely quick feet for a big man, and is reportedly faster than some NFL tight ends. Look for his ability to pick up Lang’s quickness to determine the winner of this matchup.
William Green vs. Marcus Washington
By Scott Moore
We expect a good battle on many levels from this pair. The Browns will be without several players due to injury on Sunday. Key injuries to the offensive line may force the Browns to be more creative in their offensive game plan than in the past three weeks. Enter, William Green. Green was drafted by the Browns in 2002. We rated Green one of the best RB's in the '02 Draft, in spite of a variety of off-field problems. Green has matured and is now becoming a true threat. Green has the ability to run between the tackles and outside the tackle-box. This season, Green has also become a better receiver out of the backfield. Green will no doubt be the Browns weapon of choice against an aggressive Skins defense. Look for QB Jeff Garcia to check down to Green in the flats and short curls as the Skins blitz. Aaron Shea poses little threat as a receiver and should free Antonio Pierce to rover the field. Green may attempt double-moves to try to burn the Skins deep.
Marcus Washington is fast-becoming a part of the bedrock for this Redskins defensive unit. He has tremendous athletic ability, speed and a nose for the football. Washington will likely be tasked with shutting down Green. We look for Washington to blitz, forcing Green to stay in the backfield to protect Garcia. When Garcia scrambles, he will be looking for Green. Washington is 6'3" 247 lbs, compared to Green at 6'0" 215 lbs. Washington should be able to use his superior height and reach to deflect, or intercept short throws to Green. Green's blocking ability has improved, but he's no match for a blitzing Washington.
While Washington should not underestimate the heart of Green, he should have the advantage in Cleveland. Washington will need to step up his game to fill the void left by the injured Lavar Arrington. We look for Washington to respond to the added pressure with flying colors.
Advantage: Marcus Washington
QB Jeff Garcia v. Redskins Secondary
By Fran Farren
It’s game 4 in this young 2004 NFL season and fans have seen a very much improved Redskins defense. The front 7 has been putting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks while the linebackers have also stepped it up a notch to help stop the run. That has resulted in many opposing teams going to the air against the Redskins . . . and they have thus far been fairly successful with the Redskins slipping to #14 (from #10) in total passing defense this past week.
Cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot have been doing an admirable job this year thus far. SS Matt Bowen has come on strong as a force attacking the quarterback and he has thus far been adequate in coverage. FS Sean Taylor, while playing sporadically in the first two games, has been placed into the starting lineup and each week, look for him to get better and better.
This week’s opponent is QB Jeff Garcia. Garcia and the Browns suffered a major blow in recent weeks when TE Kellen Winslow Jr.’s season coming to an end after officially being placed on injured reserve on September 30th due to a broken fibula. Garcia’s primary target this week will likely be WR Dennis Northcutt, who is leading the Browns in receptions with 13 (with only a 5.3 yard/catch average). This will likely not be enough, however, as Garcia and the Browns bring their 30th ranked passing offense into this game.
Look for a stronger performance by the Redskins secondary this week than last week’s performance against the Cowboys. The Browns just don’t have the talent to threaten the Redskins this week in the air so this will likely be a very long game for QB Jeff Garcia.
Advantage: Redskins Secondary
Be sure to check this week's Game Day section for all of the news and information about this week's game.