Key Player Match-Ups: Bengals
By: Game Day Staff
Category: Washington Redskins News
Shawn Springs vs. Chad Johnson
By Dan Hines
When Shawn Springs takes the field on Sunday afternoon, he will line up against one of the NFL most gifted wide receivers, Cincinnati’s Chad Johnson. Johnson comes out of the same mold as Terrell Owens, a big, strong, fast and physical receiver. And just like Owens, Johnson loves to talk to, and taunt his opponents. Springs will have to play as good a game mentally as he will athletically.
Johnson emerged last year as one of the NFL’s best receivers, scoring 10 TD’s on 90 receptions for 1355 yards. Johnson is on pace to do the same this year, with 2 TD’s on 44 receptions for 624 yards midway through the season. Known for his outbursts, Chad apologized to the team for his actions during the Bengals 26-3 win over the Cowboys last week. Johnson felt that he was not getting the ball enough. Springs can expect Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis to come right after him, just as he did against Champ Bailey and the Broncos two weeks ago. Johnson will look to take advantage of a very aggressive Skins defense.
Shawn Springs has all but made Redskins fans forget about Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey. Springs has thrived in Gregg Williams’s #1 rated defense. While Williams has had to shuffle the D-line, linebackers and safeties, Springs has been rock solid on the corner compiling 35 tackles, 3 INTs (2 off Brett Farve) and 3 sacks.
Springs will have to bring his “A” game Sunday. Williams will continue to use the formula that has worked, using everyone including Springs to apply pressure to second year QB Carson Palmer. Disrupting the rhythm of the Bengals passing game will be one of the keys for a Redskins victory, and Springs is up to the challenge.
Eric Steinbach vs. Cornelius Griffin
By Scott Hurrey
Eric Steinbach is a second year offensive lineman out of Iowa. At 6’6” and 297 pounds, one would think that Steinbach would rely on power, but he has deceptive speed and agility for such a big man. In his first season with the Bengals, Steinbach missed only one game, and has played in every contest this season, starting all but one.
Cornelius Griffin is listed at 6’3” and weighs in at 300 pounds. Entering into free agency last year, Griffin was touted as one of the most talented defensive linemen in free agency, but labeled as a classic under-achiever. Griffin blames this on poor technique, which he has spent countless hours correcting with the Redskins coaching staff. The hard work has paid off. Griffin leads the team in sacks with 4 for 25 yards. He also leads the team in tackles by a defensive lineman with 39.
Steinbach and Griffin are both big men with the speed and athleticism to make this an intense match-up. But Corny has the hot hand, and really seemed to turn the corner last week against the Lions. He is becoming more comfortable with his role in both the defense, and as a spark plug for this team. Look for him to continue his recent success and consistently put Steinbach on his heels in the Bengal backfield. It should be a fun match-up to watch for Redskins fans, as Griffin's improving technique combined with his natural power should allow him to control Steinbach all afternoon long.
Clinton Portis vs. Caleb Miller
By Fran Farren
In the first eight games of the 2004 season, Clinton Portis has rushed for over 100 yards in just three games. This week will surely be the fourth time Redskins fans see Portis break the 100 yard mark.
Coming off an impressive game against the Lions, rushing for 147 yards on 34 carries (4.3 yards/carry average), Portis will be facing a Bengals defense that is rated absolutely last against the run. Combine that with the fact that the Redskins simply cannot rely on QB Mark Brunell to generate much of a passing offense, and you can expect the Redskins to run Portis again and again and again. When the Redskins played the Bears this season, Portis ran a whopping 36 times for 171 yards. Portis asked Coach Gibbs, “Do you see my tongue hanging out?.......Keep giving me the ball until you see my tongue hanging out!” This week, against the Bengals, keep a close eye on Portis’ mouth. You’ll likely see that tongue of his in the fourth quarter because fans should expect to see Portis carry the ball 30+ times again this week.
Does MLB Caleb Miller have what it takes to limit Portis’ production this week? The short answer is simply “no”. Miller, who is in his rookie year, did not play in last week’s game against the Cowboys. When he does play, he doesn’t get as many tackles as a middle linebacker can. In the five games that he has played in 2004, Miller has managed just 16 tackles (3.2 tackles/game average) and 8 assists (1.6 assists/game average). These are low numbers for a middle linebacker.
But Miller is quick and very good at working the edge. He has the speed to cover a lot of ground when tracking the outside run. He also has very good range moving laterally. What he lacks, however, is size. Miller can be pushed around by aggressive offensive linemen….which is probably why his tackle and assist totals are not very impressive thus far this year. Until he bulks up, this will be a problem he faces every week.
This week against the Bengals, look for the Redskins offensive line to dominate the Bengals front four. Don’t expect the Bengals linebackers (Caleb Miller & Co.) to be much of a force stopping the run this week either.
Portis has the opportunity this week to show the Redskins fans exactly what he is made of. Don’t be surprised if the Skins put this game solely in the hands of Clinton Portis. When that happens, look for Portis to rush for 200+ yards this week and at least one touchdown.
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