“On film, it looks like he’s getting better,” the Washington Redskins tackle said. “It’s kind of all new going up against him.”
Yes, Ware is a five-time Pro Bowler. He owns 84 career sacks, including four takedowns in two games this season. He is as unblockable as any defender in the NFL, aided by a Dallas defensive scheme that shifts men, particularly on third down.
That’s the sort of idea that jars offensive linemen awake at night. Just listen to coach Mike Shanahan’s blunt scouting report on Ware.
“God-given ability,” the Redskins coach said. “He’s big, he’s fast and he’s strong. One-on-one with tackles and tight ends, he has that presence.”
Williams and the rest of Washington’s reshuffled offensive line are coming off a one-sack performance against the Arizona Cardinals. There were mistakes, like the eight hits allowed on quarterback Rex Grossman.
But the line worked together to open holes for the running game, as Washington rolled up 172 yards on 35 carries.
Still, Williams, in his second professional season after being selected fourth overall in last year’s draft, struggled in the opener against the New York Giants. He surrendered two sacks — including one that forced a fumble — to Jason Pierre-Paul. Williams can’t afford similar lapses against Ware, if Grossman is going to survive the contest intact.
“You need to be consistent and focus on every play,” Williams said. “You cannot get lazy because he’ll capitalize on your mistakes real fast. That’s just the type of player he is.”
Avoiding those lapses against Ware is critical. Williams knows the veteran sets up opposing linemen, leaving them expecting one move and getting another. That’s where the focus comes in, not letting Ware lull Williams into believing he knows what move is coming.
The shifting Cowboys‘ defense doesn’t make things easier. Interchangeable is how guard Chris Chester describes it, another disturbing word for an offensive line.
“He still has the 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.”
“As long as you can stay in the right body position and not get off-balance, you can be prepared to run him by the quarterback,” Williams said. “There’s not one thing you can do to shut down everything. Just staying in good body position will give you a better chance.”
“The better question,” Williams said, fidgeting with his fingers while facing a platoon of television cameras, “is what he don’t do well. I haven’t seen anything he has problems with.”