Redskins vs Cowboys: How Dallas Should Set Up Defense to Contain RGIII
Dallas Cowboys fans are probably busy making their Thanksgiving Day plans and gathering groceries, but they should be fearing Robert Griffin III while doing so.
Jason Garrett's team faces off against its arch rival in the Washington Redskins for the first time all season in Week 12.
It's also the first time the 'Boys have seen Robert Griffin III all year, which means defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's defense needs to game plan on how to shut the rookie down. Here are some tips for Ryan on how to contain the 'Skins' explosive quarterback.
Use a Linebacker Spy
When dealing with mobile quarterbacks, the oldest trick in a defensive coordinator's book is to put a spy on him. It may be an old trick, but there's a reason this idea has stuck around the NFL for so long: it works.
The Cowboys especially need to implement this on 3rd-and-short plays because if none of his receivers are open, Griffin won't hesitate to run. Ryan's unit was able to contain another mobile QB in Michael Vick in Week 10 when the Eagles starter had just seven yards on three rushing attempts.
Unlike Vick, Griffin does pose a threat in the pocket but taking away his running ability is a definite must for the Dallas D.
Match Brandon Carr Against Santana Moss
Redskins receiver Santana Moss has proven to be a Cowboys killer over his many seasons in Washington and has become one of Griffin's favorite targets.
Moss has already recorded six touchdowns this year and is the 'Skins leader in receiving yards with 374. He doesn't own a 100-plus yard game this year, but that doesn't mean he couldn't get it against Dallas on Thanksgiving.
Brandon Carr has proven his ability to shut down wideouts like Hakeem Nicks, DeSean Jackson and Sidney Rice this year. All three receivers were held to less than 65 yards when they played the Cowboys this season. He's the perfect corner to shadow Moss in this contest.
Taking away Washington's No. 89 doesn't mean that Griffin won't find luck with the likes of the returned Pierre Garcon or Leonard Hankerson. Still, it would leave him with one less go-to option and Carr has the ability to nullify Moss if the corner plays like he has most of this year.
Limit Griffin's Big Plays
The Cowboys defense has been impressive this year, sitting at No. 7 in the league. The unit will still be tested by Griffin in this game, though, and needs to realize some big plays will be surrendered.
The trick for DeMarcus Ware and co. is to limit those big plays to one or two over the course of the game. RG3 has more rushing yards than Steven Jackson, Michael Bush and Ryan Mathews as of now.
The Redskins QB has also posted more passing yards than Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Vick this year. The point is that whether it's with his arm or legs, Griffin is bound to make some big plays for his team; Dallas just needs to make sure that doesn't become a theme throughout Turkey Day.
Use DeMarcus Ware to Confuse Him
Since coming to Big D, Ryan has been a big fan of changing the side of the field Ware lines up on frequently in games. He does this to create confusion on the offensive line and freak out the opposing quarterback.
Griffin has looked like a veteran at times this season, but he's still getting his feet wet in the NFL. It would be wise of RG3 to realize where Ware is at all times before snapping the ball. If he gets too focused on where one player is however, Dallas can take advantage of that.
The best thing a defensive coordinator can do against a rookie quarterback is to make that QB get too much in his head. If Griffin gets flustered by a constant penetrating pass rush or a mobile Ware, he won't be able to light up the scoreboard in Cowboys Stadium.
The 'Boys need to get RG3 off his game as early as possible and implement specific plans to limit his production in order to win this crucial game.
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