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Butler's Breakdown: Packers vs. Redskins


The Washington Redskins are a team that a lot of their fans have told me are underachieving. With the money they have spent over the past few seasons to get Clinton Portis, Mark Brunell, Laveranues Coles and more, I think they all thought the Redskins would be a playoff team, especially with their head coach Joe Gibbs coming out of retirement and the coaching staff that he brought in.

Maybe they are underachieving a bit, but from our perspective, this is not the week for Washington to find their groove.

The Green Bay Packers come into this game in search of a much-needed victory to get them back to .500 at 4-4 going into their bye week.

The big key to this game will be the challenge that Greg Robinson's Washington Redskins defense will pose to the Green Bay offense. The Redskins blitz a lot. They blitz with timely blitzes, but they may be hurt this week by being shorthanded a couple of defensive starters.

Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington is out of the lineup with a knee injury and their first-round draft pick, safety Sean Taylor, won't be with the team Sunday after some off-the-field disciplinary problems.

They will really be missing those two key players, but the Redskins' defense is built around the guys up front who really get after the ball. They are a quick defense, very opportunistic, and they get lots of turnovers. I see some chinks in their armor, though. They have shown that they are susceptible to play-action, and if you stick to the run, you can be very successful.

Look for a second big week in a row from Ahman Green, especially since the Redskins have two top cover corners in Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot, the Packers will probably look to really get the running game going again this week.

One thing the Packers can't afford to get caught up in this week, or any week really, is penalties. It's very difficult to win on the road in this league if you have a lot of penalties called against you. If the Packers can hold the flags down to five or less penalties, I think they will be OK.

Brett Favre is going to have to be ready for the blitz. He will also probably see a lot of eight-man fronts, which could open up the passing game. Javon Walker and Donald Driver could see a lot of one-on-one match-ups with the Redskins' first-rate cornerbacks, so whoever wins those battles will go a long way to determining who wins this game.

Over the past few weeks, nobody has been able to stop Walker one-on-one, so I think the Redskins could be in some trouble there. You can expect to see some more of the big downfield passing plays that have once again become a staple of the Green Bay Packers offense.

One concern I have going into this game is with the Packers' defense. The Redskins have one of the best young running backs in all of football in Clinton Portis. They run a lot of counters, a lot of misdirections, and their offensive line is starting to come into their own.

The Packers must come out ready to stop the run. Washington is a running offense and you will see Portis sometimes get 10-12 carries in a quarter. They will definitely feed him the ball, since their passing game is based on play-action.

Mark Brunell, even though he may be getting to the later stages of his career, is still an efficient quarterback. He doesn't make a whole lot of mistakes, but can be forced into some bad plays with a timely blitz or two.

Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner are two big receivers. They run a lot of deep routes and have very good hands. They are also very physical as far as blocking and catching the ball.

The key situation for the Green Bay defense will be third down. I think the potential is there to force some turnovers with some well-timed and well-planned blitzes from Bob Slowik's defense. The Redskins will probably target Ahmad Carroll, but he has to step up like he has the last couple of weeks and make some plays.

If Darren Sharper can't play because of his injured knee, Bhawoh Jue will have to step in and make the plays from the safety position. I think he'll be OK, and the Packers defense will have another good game.

With Grady Jackson back in the middle of the defensive line, I think the Packers will be able to do an effective job of stopping the Washington running game and force them to throw the ball. If you can get them out of their running game and make Brunell have to throw 40 times, that is definitely in the Packers' favor.

Joe Gibbs brings a lot of experience to the game, and I think he will have his team ready for the Packers, especially coming off of a bye week.

Look for the Green Bay Packers to be very aggressive offensively and defensively, and try to get ahead in the game to quiet to 90,000-plus fans that will be at FedEx Field. It won't be a stolen victory for the Packers - this is a victory that needs to be taken.

Anything less than .500 before the break is unacceptable for the Packers. Every guy on the roster knows the magnitude of this game, and they will play as such. I think this should be a good game, but I also expect the Packers to head into their bye week with a three-game winning streak.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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