- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

The Washington Redskins face several game-specific hurdles as they recover from their opening 30-3 loss at San Diego and last week's terrorist attacks. They must prepare to play at Lambeau Field, one of the NFL's toughest venues. They must prepare for "Monday Night Football," not to mention the first Monday night game following last week's unprecedented cancellations.
And, perhaps toughest of all, they must prepare for one of the NFL's most talented quarterback/ running back tandems.
The Green Bay Packers boast quarterback Brett Favre, still just 30 despite being three seasons removed from his third straight Most Valuable Player Award, and running back Ahman Green, whose Pro Bowl potential is becoming more apparent in his first season as a full-time starter.
After a week of play, Favre is the NFC's top-rated passer at 129.2 and Green is the NFL's No. 1 rusher with 157 yards. The Redskins, after a fairly solid defensive effort in Week 1, have a serious challenge in trying to stop the pair.
"They have their threats, without a doubt," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said yesterday. "We have to attack them. We, as a defensive line, have to attack the line of scrimmage. We have to make them do things they feel uncomfortable doing, make them one-dimensional, and be very aggressive and play hard-nosed ball."
One-dimensional. Hmmm. Which dimension would you want?
Actually, Wilkinson was talking about either. He doesn't care if it's the pass or the run, Favre or Green, that struggles. Trouble is, neither might.
Favre remains one of the NFL's top playmakers even as double threats like Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb blossom. And Green has the speed and toughness to be a premier rusher now that he has the full-time job. He sparkled last season (1,175 rushing yards and 73 receptions) in just 11 starts in place of injured Dorsey Levens.
"They've got some versatility," defensive end Bruce Smith said. "They're able to run the football. They're able to throw the football with [Favre's] arm strength and his ability to create plays when there are no plays. It definitely poses a double threat… . We've got our work cut out for us."
Favre has lost a bit of national prominence as his numbers have sunk from MVP levels and the Packers have fallen from championship contention. After the unprecedented achievement of MVPs in 1995, 1996 and 1997 a period when Green Bay won 37 regular-season games and one Super Bowl title Favre's ratings have dipped to 87.8, 74.7 and 78.0.
Here in Washington, following Favre has been particularly difficult. The Packers have played just one playoff game over the past three seasons in 1998 and the Redskins have not faced Green Bay since 1988.
But Redskins defensive players have seen enough film of Favre's 2001 debut a 28-6 victory over Detroit, in which he hit 22 of 28 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns to opine that he has lost little from his MVP days.
"I think he's where he's always been," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "He's getting older that's the only thing. And I don't think that's hurt him any."
Green, meanwhile, has caught the eye of Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer. Green, 24, came to Green Bay in a trade with Seattle on April 15, 2000, brokered by former Packers coach Mike Holmgren. Green was a big reason why Green Bay closed 4-0 last season and entered 2001 as an NFC Central contender.
"Ahman Green is amazing," Schottenheimer said. "Coach Holmgren … I bet he wishes he had him back."
Washington faces Green after giving up 113 yards on 36 carries to San Diego rookie LaDainian Tomlinson. Schottenheimer doesn't see that defensive performance as a bust Tomlinson averaged just 3.1 yards per carry but he knows that it's tough to win when an opposing back rushes more than 30 times.
Of course, sometimes 17 times can be just as bad. In the 2001 opener, that's all Green needed to spring scoring runs of 83 and 31 yards.
"He has terrific feet, he has speed, and he has the power to take it up the middle as well," Wilkinson said. "He looks like a complete back."
Together, Favre and Green probably don't rival tandems like Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James or Tennessee's Steve McNair and Eddie George. But the Packers' pair might be as good as any Washington faces this season a group led by Denver's Brian Griese and Terrell Davis, New Orleans' Aaron Brooks and Ricky Williams, and Philadelphia's McNabb and Duce Staley.
All the Redskins can do, this week and in those games to come, is attack, as Wilkinson said, and refrain from hedging against one more than the other.
"You can never just focus so much on one thing," defensive end Marco Coleman said. "You have to play each down as it comes. Each down represents a different problem, whether it's first-and-10, third-and-10, whatever. You've got to just play the circumstances."

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