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What I'd Like To See: Trent's Trip To The Learning Tree

This week, the Houston Texans will face a sort of Bizarro version of themselves in Mike Shanahan's Washington Redskins. First of all, let's throw out that talk about let-down game. The Texans and Redskins both won big home openers against divisional rivals, so I expect both teams are at the same emotional state. Both teams also run some similar schemes, at least offensively, due to the Gary Kubiak-Mike Shanahan relationship. Again, it's another wash. The defenses aren't going to be surprised, so their execution will go a long way in determining the outcome on Sunday.

Last week, I talked about attacking a scheme with a specific offensive gameplan, but this week I'm talking about attacking a player. The key match-up should be Super Mario Williams versus Trent "Silverback" Williams in a Denver-East/South Heavyweight match-up for title of "Best Williams on the Field." What do I want to see? I want to see Mario use his experience and tools of the trade to take the Silverback to the learning tree.

Pull a jumpman and land on the other side of this post to get the details on why this match-up matters and how it could go on Sunday.


As I said before, the Texans and Redskins run similar schemes, as Gary Kubiak is a disciple of Mike Shanahan. Nothing these two teams throw at each other should confuse the other. I believe this game comes down to desire and talent. No one personifies those two words more than Texans DE Mario Williams.

This past Sunday, the man whose desire has often and dumbly been questioned - Mario Williams - lived in the Indianapolis backfield. He had a sack, consisting of two half sacks, and hit Mr. Peyton Manning five times while throwing in a couple more pressures. Mario also had two solo tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage on early run plays. There was pressure on Super Mario to deliver, and he had one of his career-best performances (eye-test, not statistically).

This week, Mario takes on Redskins rookie LT Trent Williams. This past Sunday night, Silverback Williams took on Cowboys LB, and premiere NFL pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware. Watching the game, Ware managed a sack and two hits on the quarterback but could not manage consistent pressure. The Silverback seems to be up to the challenge of protecting the blind side, but Sunday is his first crack at a dominant NFL defensive end.

Watching Williams, he's the perfect left tackle for Mike Shanahan's scheme. He's athletic enough to block downfield, moves his feet well, can really keep up with an outside speed rush, and will only get better, but, as is to be expected, Trent showed moments of vulnerability in his first professional start.

Yes, he's a rookie, so there will be an occasional false start, and Trent also had a moment or two where he got beat by some of Ware's best speed. Silverback also had a little bit of trouble defending the spin move, as Ware was able to go outside-in on him on a few of his successful plays. The big problem I saw with Trent, at least in that one game, is that he has to learn how to use his hands better because it appeared that Ware could knock away his hands with ease. Luckily for Trent, Ware's a speed rusher, but if a lineman can get his hands on an opposing player, then he has control and should be able to do as he pleases. I felt that if Ware had utilized more bull rushes and rip moves that he'd have gotten more consistent pressure, as opposed to trying to run around the athletic Trent Williams.

The rookie is beatable, and Mario is going to have to beat him if the defense is to have a successful day. The secondary is still a bit of an unknown - yes, unknown since Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning, and he'll shred anyone - so they'll depend on pressure to make their jobs easier. The simplest way to have defensive success is to harass the quarterback consistently. While there will be stunts, I hope Mario keeps the attack simple. Watching the Dallas game, Mario's best weapons appear to be using his power with a rip or bull-rush, as opposed to trying to circle Trent.

I think Trent Williams will be an outstanding left tackle, but Sunday's a big learning moment for him. While Mario will have to be mindful of his gap assignment against a zone-blocking run attack, I would like to see an active Super Mario eat a mushroom and notch, at least, a combined seven pressures, hits, and sacks on Redskins QB Donovan McNabb. If Mario can hit that target number, then I really like the defense's chances of stopping McNabb and the Redskin offense.

That's what I'll be watching and hoping to see on Sunday, but what about you faithful BRBers? Where do you see the Texans gaining the upper-hand on Washington? Chime in below with what you think will win the game.

Post-script: I realize that describing line play, something that is hard to see with the camera focus on the ball, is hard to grasp with words, so here are some videos that talk about and show the moves and techniques mentioned in this post. I know everyone is on a different level as far as knowledge of football jargon and technique, but hopefully these help with the understanding of the jargon-heavy information.

The Spin Move
The Rip Move
The Bull Rush
ESPN Feature on Pass-Rushing
And a Mario video I like