3 pivotal players the Commanders must keep quiet vs. Cardinals in Week 1

The Commanders must pay special attention to some key playmakers in Week 1.

Budda Baker
Budda Baker / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY
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Commanders must keep Zach Ertz quiet

Zach Ertz is expected to be ready to play on Sunday in his first game since tearing his ACL, according to Jess Root of Cards Wire. This is a major boost, especially since former Tennessee Titans backup Josh Dobbs is going to start at quarterback in place of injured Kyler Murray.

Facing an inexperienced quarterback makes the Washington Commanders a strong bet to win. But Dobbs connecting with Ertz could upset the odds.

Ertz is a demon between the numbers, so his availability is a blow for the Commanders. However, there is a silver lining.

Namely, the chance to give second-round pick Quan Martin his first tough test in the pros. The defensive back played both safety and cornerback at Illinois, so he's a matchup equalizer in the slot.

The rookie can be matched up against a dynamic weapon like Ertz thanks to his impressive record in man coverage last season, which is highlighted below by Pro Football Focus.

Using cornerbacks to blanket "move" tight ends has become a common ploy for many NFL defenses. The Commanders can replicate the strategy, provided defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio isn't concerned about any size mismatch.

Ertz, at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, will tower over 6-foot, 195-pounder Martin. But it would be a different story if Del Rio entrusts Kamren Curl to shadow and jam the former Philadelphia Eagle.

Stifling Ertz underneath will take away the Cardinals' primary chain-mover, but the Commanders can't ignore another supreme vertical threat in the passing game, either.