As Lawson suggested, this should be Seahawk-centered for the remainder of their playoff run. I’m down with that.
However, I’m suddenly feeling VERRRRRYYYYY nervous about this Redskins game. I know, their total offensive output of 120 yards is an average quarter for the Seahawks, but that Skins D played their butts off.
First off, the positives for the Hawks:
Luckily the Skins are beat up on D, with Springs hobbled by a bad groin and starting D-end Renaldo Wynn out with a broken arm and DT Brandon Noble also out. The Hawks, early in the season, at Washington, did put up 394 yards of total offense against this defense with all their weapons, and even drove the field when they needed to and put the ball into the end zone late in the 4th quarter. So you have to feel better about the offense vs. Redskins D out here.
The Skins are hot, winning 6 straight, but that might not be such a good thing for them. You have to feel their luck has run out, if not for a dropped TD pass in the 4th quarter, they might not even be alive. Chris Simms SUCKS, I don’t care what anyone says but that guy is lucky if he even cracks 200 yards passing and makes a ton of mistakes, but he still almost beat them.
Portis has two injured shoulders, and Brunell has a bum knee that has limited his mobility. Outside of Moss, nobody scares you offensively on the outside, as David Patten and Chris Cooley are really the only other weapons of note and they do their damage underneath.
The Skins killed the Hawks on 3rd down in their last meeting, converting something like 15 conversions on 3rd down. Brunell made some huge plays with his arm and his feet against a D still trying to figure it out. But those young kids, they really aren’t rookies anymore so the Hawks D will be better, especially with the return of their DB’s.
Portis is explosive and can hit the HR on any single carry, so you have to kind of hold your breath every time he touches the ball. But, he has TWO injured shoulders, and you have to wonder how he’ll respond once he gets pounded early in the game.
The Skins D is fast and physical, and they are extremely well-coached by the highest-paid d-coordinator in the NFL.
Now, here’s why I’m suddenly nervous about this week:
The Hawks defensive approach of bend-but-don’t-break might actually play into the strength of the Redskins. Brunell doesn’t have the greatest arm anymore, but he is pretty accurate and has great touch if he has time to set up and do his thing. If the Hawks keep the safeties deep, afraid of giving up the deep ball, the middle of the field could really be soft and guys like Cooley and Portis out of the backfield might chew up a lot of real-estate.
Think about this – Tampa Bay plays the best, most physical cover-2 defense in the league. They jam you at the line on every play, and their corners not only blanket you, but they make plays all over the field. Their linebackers run like deer and hit like trucks, they blitz like crazy and love to bring pressure, but even their front-4 gets to the passer as well as anybody in the NFC. They absolutely embarrassed the Redskins O for 4 quarters as the Skins just couldn’t make a big play. This much we know, this much we saw.
But the Hawks are the complete opposite of Tampa Bay. The Hawks won’t jam anyone, they’ll play Trufant and Dyson 7-8 yards off the line every time, and they never put more than 7 in the box except for the red zone. It’s similar to New England, not in the 3-4 sense, but in the idea that they keep everything in front of them and they decide out of the shoot that “we will give you yardage between the 20’s, but once you enter the red zone, we’ll tighten things up. You will not get into the end zone more than once or twice at the most, for the majority of the time you will have to settle for field goals. And if you get frustrated and take shots down the field, we will be waiting and you will make mistakes.” That’s what they’ve done, all year long. And 13 out of 16, that approach has been perfect. But to me, the scariest thing is it seems to play right into what Brunell and the Skins will want to do. If you are a member of the Redskins, what is your approach?? You can’t come in thinking we’re going to get into a shoot-out. You have to take the idea that they will be methodical, they will run the ball in old-school Joe Gibbs style, they will control the clock and they will throw when they have to underneath, moving the chains, and most of all, KEEP THAT HAWKS OFFENSE OFF THE DAMN FIELD!
I think right now, 21 or 24 points wins this game. Even though the Hawks will give up yards by the bunches, they are #1 or at last check, #2 in the NFL at red zone defense. They just keep teams out of the end zone, and that Redskins offense, you just can’t see them getting more than 2 TD’s in that game. I could be wrong, and you never know, but I just can’t see it. The early Vegas line had the Hawks at 8 1/2 pt faves, which I think is too high and I bet by kickoff it’s down to about 6. I think we’ll see a lot of money thrown at the Redskins side of the table. But right now, in the end, I’m going with the odds and the stat that NO NFC team as the 1-seed has lost it’s first playoff game since the playoffs expanded to 6 teams in 1990. I’m saying 27-21, Hawks.
It’s going to be very interesting, that’s for sure! I have that pit in my stomach feeling right now, because I actually will be there the rest of the season to witness this thing first-hand. I almost would rather go on a long drive up to the mountains with my family next Saturday afternoon, just remove myself completely from it and then around 4:30 turn on KIRO on the drive back to hear how things went. But, no, I made the financial and emotional investment in this team and I’ll be there with my wife, rain or shine, and see what happens!