Cowboys vs. Redskins Week 1: Game Within the Game

Phil BrennanCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2010

Cowboy receiver Dez Bryant hopes to have an immediate impact in his debut.
Cowboy receiver Dez Bryant hopes to have an immediate impact in his debut.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Football is a game of matchups, mismatches, and game planning.  Here's what to watch for in this Week 1 matchup between the Redskins and Cowboys.


The Redskins Will Look To Exploit the Cowboys' Inside Linebackers By Employing Two-TE Sets

Bradie James and Keith Brooking aren't slouches, but chasing receivers in pass coverage is not their forte. 

With a wide receiver corps thin in depth and talent, look for Redskins' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to put both of his skilled tight ends, Fred Davis, and Chris Cooley, on the field at the same time to attack the Cowboy linebackers.

The Redskins' top three receivers all possess deep speed but are relatively diminutive in size. 

I expect Donovan McNabb to take his shots deep over-the-top to his speedy wide receivers and primarily utilize his tight ends to move the chains on short to mid-depth routes.

Look for the Cowboys to counter by putting second-year safety Mike Hamlin on one of the tight ends in obvious passing downs.


Dez Bryant Won't Be Treated Like a Rookie

Any thought of the Cowboys slowly working rookie receiver Dez Bryant into the offense was wiped away the second they traded veteran Patrick Crayton a week before the season opener. 

Whether by default or part of the master plan, Dez Bryant is now the Cowboys' third wide receiver. Being such, he'll be leaned upon heavily from the get-go.

Look for Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to find a way to get Dez involved immediately and attack the Redskins' third cornerback Phillip Buchanon (or Kevin Barnes).

Bryant is tall, athletic, and strong, all which contribute to his outstanding ball skills which can be utilized in the tight quarters of the red zone. 

Don't be surprised if Bryant starts off his pro debut with a touchdown.


Redskins Will Try To Bring the Pressure

The Redskins don't have many advantages when matched up against the Cowboys on paper. The one perceived weakness for the Cowboys is its banged-up offensive line. 

It doesn't look as if either starting right tackle Marc Colombo or left guard Kyle Kosier will be available for Sunday's game. 

Starting in their places will be veterans Alex Barron and Montrae Holland.

Redskins' defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has had all offseason to create a game plan to attack the offensive line of Dallas. 

Look for stud OLB Brian Orakpo to be moved around the line to pressure and confuse the newly inserted linemen.

I would fully expect to see an inordinate amount of stunts and blitzes from the Redskins hoping to exploit a weakened Cowboy offensive line and cause Tony Romo to make some bad decisions.