FRISCO, Texas – Having watched the tape, here are my two biggest matchups for the Week 2 trip to face Washington at FedEx Field.
Dallas Cowboys OT Doug Free vs. Washington Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan
It will be interesting to see if Doug Free can have a bounce back game against the talented Ryan Kerrigan. Free wasn't at his best last week against Jason Pierre-Paul -- especially in the running game.
It is well-documented the type of player that Free is going to face in Kerrigan. He is a relentless, mentally tough athlete. There is no quit in his game. His playing speed and short-area quickness are good. Where Kerrigan gives blockers the most trouble is with his technique. There have been countless snaps over his career where you see him breaking down blockers and finishing plays. He has outstanding hand use and balance when dealing with blockers. He will also surprise you with the power that he is able to play with. I have seen him capture the edge with quickness, but I have also seen him lower his head and just walk the blocker straight back.
Kerrigan is a hard guy to fool on the edge despite how aggressive he is. He's very aware in the way he goes about his job. To have success against him, Free is going to have to make sure that he finishes him off. This is the type of player that you can't have go unblocked or allow to escape because he will get to the ball. You have to be aware of him attacking the pocket and forcing a turnover, but also playing the screen and getting a cheap interception that way.
How well Free handles Kerrigan in this game will be key because he is the best front seven player that Washington has.
Dallas Cowboys S Byron Jones vs. Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed
If I am Rod Marinelli, I treat Jordan Reed as a receiver. The way he plays in this scheme is more like a receiver than a tight end. There are snaps where he is inline, but it's not enough to say that he is a true tight end.
I expect that we will see Byron Jones matching up Reed the majority of this game due to his ability to handle size while maintaining coverage. Kirk Cousins is already throwing the ball to Reed, and how you handle him dictates the way you play the other skill players on this Redskins offense. In Reed you have a big body that is a combination of speed and quickness with receiver-like hands. As a route runner he is able to separate at all levels down the field. When covered, he can make the contested catch.
The Redskins like to move Reed around in the formation, and he is sneaky in the way he runs routes. He will delay a counter or two, then work up the field. He can hurt a defense if you play a lot of zone coverage, because he knows how to find space and settle.
As a blocker, it might not be his favorite thing, but he can be used as an "H" back and block inside. He is better when he can work along the line trying to tie his man up. He's athletic enough to stay on his feet and take the defender whichever direction he'd like to go. He's not going to get a ton of movement at the point of attack – more pass receiver than run blocker.
A look at some of our favorite photos from practice at The Star on Wednesday, September 14.