One of the subplots to Monday Night's Redskins-Cowboys game in Texas Stadium will be the reunion between Washington assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams and Dallas quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Williams was, of course, the head coach in Buffalo between 2001 and 2003, and Bledsoe was his quarterback for the last two of those seasons.
It's one of the back stories going in. But by the time the next Redskins-Dallas matchup is over, Williams versus Bledsoe may be the dominant theme. The Redskins, at Williams' prompting, are expected to get after Bledsoe early and often on Monday Night.
"A lot of that will depend on how well we play up front," Williams said this week. "If they're able to run the ball with the run-pass ratio that had last week, it's going to be tough to get any quarterback, not just Drew but any quarterback.
"The secret to our success has been that people have a difficult time running on us. When you get the quarterback in longer down and distances, sometimes you have a chance to pressure the quarterback."
Bledsoe, for his part, hopes to gain another win for the Cowboys in a series in which Dallas has won 14 of the last 15.
The new Dallas QB says he has a tremendous amount of respect for Williams and that he learned a great deal about the game from Williams as a Buffalo Bill.
"The best compliment I can pay Gregg is that when things started to turn south a little bit for us there in Buffalo, he was steadfast and strong," Bledsoe said Thursday. "He remained a great leader for that team right up to the point when they let him go. He did a great job of getting us prepared every week ."
Added Bledsoe: "I really feel like he'll probably get another shot at it, in a situation that's a little more conducive to success. When he got there to Buffalo, I think there was something like $17 million worth of dead salary cap that they couldn't use to build the team.
"It was a tough situation for him going in. Just as things were starting to look like they were getting turned around a little bit, they moved on to another guy."
Bledsoe had all sorts of wonderful things to say about his former coach on Wednesday but it'll be an extremely competitive atmosphere on Week 2 Dallas, the Cowboys' newest leader realizes.
"Facing Gregg's defense was never a treat, even just in practice when were up there in Buffalo," says Bledsoe, who directed Dallas to a 28-24 win at San Diego in its opener. "Facing him for real this Monday Night isn't going to be a treat, either.
"Obviously, they had a great year last year. It looks like they picked up right where they left off, with a great game last week against the Bears. They do a lot of different things. They have a lot of different blitzes that we have to be ready for."
Bledsoe says the one thing Williams teaches better than anyone in the league is how to disguise a blitz. With Williams' schemes, adds Bledsoe, "It's hard to see where they're coming from. They're able to disguise it until the very last second, which makes it very difficult."
The 6-6, 238-pound Bledsoe hit on 18-of-24 passes for 226 yards and three TDs at San Diego. The 13-year NFL veteran found Patrick Crayton six times for 89 yards and a score; he hit Keyshawn Johnson five times for 65 yards and two TDs.
Tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Terry Glenn and running back Julius Jones are the other key threats with whom the Redskins' defense will have to contend on Week 2.
Williams will be expecting a great effort from his defense, knowing full well that the Redskins have a bye on Week 3; the Cowboys are at San Francisco on Sept. 25.
Bledsoe is aware of the fact that Washington put all sorts of pressure on Bears QB Kyle Orton down the stretch in the opener at FedExField. He anticipates seeing much of the same in Monday Night's matchup.
Said Bledsoe: "There are only 11 of them over there, so they can't bring more than that. At the same time, Gregg seems to. When I was with him, he always seemed to be able to do something a little different from the norm, something you hadn't seen before. He's doing a little bit of that this year.
"This is probably the first time I've seen someone bring cornerbacks on blitzes from both sides and still play zone behind it. That's stuff you're not supposed to be able to do, but he finds a way to make it work."