Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Redskins, Trent Williams Must Beware Of Linebacker DeMarcus Ware
This story appeared on page B1 of Sunday’s Free Lance-Star
ASHBURN — There’s one thing Trent Williams knows he has to do when it comes to preventing DeMarcus Ware from getting to the ball tomorrow night.
“Just be consistent and focus on every play and not get lazy, because he can capitalize on your mistakes real fast,” Williams, the Washington Redskins’ left tackle, said. “That’s just the type of player he is. He’s smart.”
Williams would know. The Dallas linebacker beat him for a sack on three occasions last season, once in Washington’s 13-7 victory in the first week and twice more in a 33-30 victory in Week 15.
When the two teams meet tomorrow night, Williams knows exactly who, what and where must be the focus of his attention.
Then again, it’s not rare to be sacked by Ware. The 11th overall pick by Dallas in the 2005 draft, Ware has led or tied for the team lead in sacks every season. He’s had more than 10 sacks in each of the past five years, had a team-record 20 sacks in 2008 and already has a league-high four sacks this season, including one on his first play of the season against the New York Jets.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound outside linebacker has 84 career sacks, with nine against the Redskins and four against their quarterback, Rex Grossman.
“He’s one of the best in the league,” Grossman said. “There’s no doubt about it. It seems like every team has some guy you’ve got to be aware of, and he and [fellow starting outside linebacker Anthony] Spencer are both great.”
It’s easy to say stopping Ware will be one of the top priorities for the Redskins in pass protection. It’s tougher to actually do it.
A player as highly wound and motivated as Ware doesn’t stop, and it was on his second effort that he beat Williams and dropped Grossman for a 4-yard loss in the teams’ second meeting last year.
“He keeps going,” Williams said. “He doesn’t stop until the whistle’s blown, and that’s something that you try to instill, the coaches try to instill, when you’re in [youth] league. A lot of guys don’t take it that serious, but you can tell that he does, and he’s not going to stop until the ball stops.”
What has changed this year is the way first-year defensive coordinator Rex Ryan utilizes Ware and the rest of his linebackers. Dallas’ 3-4 scheme has been slightly modified after the departure of Wade Phillips, the Cowboys’ former head coach who was fired midway through last year. Phillips, who also served as his own defensive coordinator, kept Ware in one spot. Ryan has shown he’s not afraid to move him around, which means right tackle Jammal Brown will have to be on the lookout for Ware as well.
“I just think [Ryan's] done a nice job allowing our defense to play fundamentally sound defense and also to be multiple in certain situations in the game,” Dallas head coach Jason Garrett said.
“Our guys are playing hard and I think they’re playing well. We’ve had to face two really good run offenses [in the Jets and San Francisco] in the first couple weeks — teams that are really committed to running the football. I think our guys did a real nice job stepping up and defending the run.”
The Cowboys have allowed just 59.5 rushing yards a game in two weeks, proving to be the second-toughest run unit in the league. Despite the threat posed by Ware and Spencer, the pass coverage has been softer, with Dallas allowing a middle-of-the-pack 223.5 yards a game.
That puts the focus back on the offensive line, and on Williams, who will have to show improvement in his second year and third game against the Cowboys.
From watching film all week, Ware is fairly certain Williams will do so.
“You know, he still has that same athleticism, but he’s a lot smarter now,” Ware said. “He knows where he fits in the scheme. He doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s a great player and one of those long-time tackles.”