One of the highlight matchups for tonight's Redskins-Cowboys game will be Washington tackle Trent Williams, a three-time Pro Bowler, against Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy.
Before even stepping onto the field with the Dallas Cowboys tonight on Monday Night Football, the Washington Redskins know that they're going to get a lot of faces trying to bring pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins.
It's been the Cowboys' primary defensive M.O. ever since they bumped Rod Marinelli up to the defensive coordinator spot in 2014 after spending a year as the team's defensive line coach.
Dallas also made it a point to bring in additional pieces that have strengths that would be advantageous for Marinelli to use.
They drafted projected first-round pick Randy Gregory in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft and also brought in Greg Hardy via free agency.
Each has missed time this season — Gregory due to injury and Hardy with a four-game suspension — but Hardy has led the way for a Cowboys pass rush that at times has caused serious problems for the opponent.
Hardy himself has 4.5 sacks in seven games.
With three-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams more than likely having to take on Hardy 1-on-1 on Monday, he know that nothing less than his best won't be enough in subduing a man who has 38.5 sacks in 70 career games.
"He's a great player," Williams said of Hardy last week. "He jumps out on film all the time. He's very disruptive. He's a big strong guy with a lot of athleticism. He's a dominant force. That's the reason he's a household name and everybody knows who he is is because of his play on the field and how he can control the game at times. So, you know, I'm going to have to study him during the week like I do all my opponents and I'm going to have to bring my A-game. He definitely is one of the best D-ends in the league."
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.
One way the offense could prevent someone like Hardy from getting into the backfield often is by running the ball effectively.
But the Redskins' run game has had mixed results this season, as some games they eclipse 100-plus yards with ease while in others they're barely managing to get 50 yards.
Starter Alfred Morris has yet to record a touchdown through the first 11 games this season, something almost unthinkable to start the season, but has been coming around as of late getting at least 75 yards in two of the Redskins' last three games.
Rookie Matt Jones, of course, will play a big role too, and Chris Thompson, if healthy, is always a nice change of pace as the team's third-down back both running and catching the ball.
"I think running the football will always help with the pass rush," Cousins said. "I think when you have a lead, it helps with the pass rush. We have said that when you get in a catch-up mode — a two-minute mode — it gives the pass rushers on the other teams a chance to know that they're throwing the ball and they pin their ears back and they come with a vengeance. So having a lead, running the football, all those things play well into avoiding sacks but ultimately it comes down to players holding up in protection."
Cousins added: "It comes down to me getting the ball out of my hand quickly and making good decisions and it really does take all 11 to avoid sacks."