Cowboys OT Tyron Smith vs. Redskins OLB Brian Orakpo
As the games have become more important, the matchups have become more critical. One missed assignment or breakdown could be the difference whether your team moves on or is home for the playoffs.
The one player that has been the most consistent regardless of the situation has been Tyron Smith and how he has been able to take whomever he is playing out of the game. This week against the Redskins, he draws one of their better defensive players, run or pass.
Brian Orakpo, like his teammate on the other side, Ryan Kerrigan, is relentless in the way he approaches the game. There is no question that Smith will need to be at his best, and having faced Orakpo before always helps in the way of his physical and mental approach.
Where I don't believe Orakpo gets enough credit is in his ability to play the run. For a player that has his length and range, he is able to hold up at the point, string the blocker out, shed and make the tackle. What Smith is going to have to be careful of is Orakpo's ability to shed and trap the ball carrier for no gain or a loss.
Smith is going to need to get inside of Orakpo's body and not allow him to extend those hands on the front side. Where Smith is also going to have to work hard is on the backside cut off when the ball goes away. [embedded_ad]
Orakpo loves to chase the ball and he has the speed to catch Murray from the backside -- two very athletic players going at it here on Sunday.
Cowboys LBs vs. Redskins FB Darrel Young
With Kirk Cousins in the game, the Redskins are more of a traditional-type of offense. There are more snaps under center and more "I" formation plays.
Without Sean Lee in the lineup, stopping this Redskins running game will fall on the shoulders of DeVonte Holloman, Bruce Carter and Kyle Wilber. It's hard enough to have to deal with Alfred Morris running downhill at them, but with Darrel Young in the lineup, it is even more of a challenge.
Young is just an extension of what you see in Morris. At 5-11 and 245 pounds, he is a "Splatter" back that is able to run right through would-be tacklers. Where he makes it so difficult for a linebacker is that when you take him on, then shed, here comes Morris and you are usually off balance or not in great position to make the play.
In watching Morris play, I have always thought that he was an outstanding single or one back with his running style in this scheme, but putting a Young in front of him makes him even more dangerous. Young doesn't hold him up or cause him to delay getting the ball inside or out.
Young and Morris work very well together. Where I think offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan misses the boat is when he pairs Morris with Logan Paulsen, because with him in front, there just isn't the point of attack space that Young can create. These Cowboys linebackers got a little taste of a blocking fullback last week in John Kuhn but this week is a whole different cat and they had better be ready for that.