It is probably the most anticipated game of the weekend, and if all goes to plan, the hype will surely be justified. In what has been the year of the rookie quarterback, we have the two that are duking it out for offensive rookie of the year set to take the stage and fight for their playoff lives. Furthermore, the two teams involved are eerily similar on offense, and by far among the best at working the read option in the league.
This should be fun.
For Russell Wilson and his Seattle Seahawks offense to be successful, they are going to have to find a way to beat the blitz. Don’t let the statistics fool you when it comes to the Redskins’ defense. This group has turned it on mightily since about the halfway mark in the season, and Jim Haslett has them working the zone blitz beautifully. It would be wise of Darrell Bevell to keep with the same game plan he’s had all year as a means of beating it. Put the ball in Lynch’s hands and get the play action going. If Seattle can keep the Redskins honest on defense and get the play action -- and read option going -- they could become very difficult to stop.
We only have a modest sample size of 10 read option plays used against the Redskins this year, but based on the 92 yards they gave up, maybe the Seahawks can exploit this. The Redskins may have big linemen, but they aren’t all that fleet of foot; I can’t see them handling the read option a whole lot better now than they did in the regular season.
Shutting down RG3 and his 6th rounder sidekick Alfred Morris is going to be imperative for the Seattle defense. A lot easier said than done, unfortunately, even with Robert Griffin nursing a knee sprain that has clearly slowed him down. Fortunately for the Seahawks, though, they have the speed at the linebacker position to keep these players in check. Both Bobby Wagner and Malcolm Smith ran about a 4.4, giving the Seahawks a decided edge in this matchup. This kind of speed in the second level is going to be needed with Red Bryant (a massive defensive end) and Chris Clemons (a pure pass rusher) not necessarily suited to defending runs outside the tackles.
Part in parcel with shutting down RG3 will be keeping his best receiver, Pierre Garcon, in check. The Redskins are a much better team with when he is around, as their 9-1 record with him in the lineup would probably indicate. A reason to believe that the Seahawks will be able to keep Garcon from being a factor is that, in his 10 games this season, he hasn’t had to face a cornerback nearly as good as Richard Sherman. One more reason for optimism (but of the more general variety): in defending the pass, Brandon Browner is making his return from a four game suspension and the Legion of Boom is reunited.
Both teams are coming into these playoffs about as hot as any in the league. The Redskins won their last seven games to get into the postseason, and it could be argued have been playing playoff football for the last 2 months. You can’t expect to catch them off guard. The Seahawks may not have a seven game winning streak going, but they’re be happy with the five they’ve put together due to teh sheer dominance displayed in three of those games.
The Seahawks may not have won a road game since the 80’s, but they are long overdue to break that trend and have the perfect foe to do it against. It’ll be a close game, but all signs point to a Seahawks victory and an eventual trip to Atlanta for Pete Carroll and the boys.