Sep 30, 2005, 11:47 PM EDT
Redskins vs. Seahawks Bold Predictions
When the schedule first came out in the spring and Seattle at Washington at 1 PM EDT was on it, the instant, knee jerk reaction was to put down a “W” for the Redskins and move on. Such instant analysis was based on the following factors:
- Seattle can’t win on the road, especially games that start at 10 AM their time.
- The Redskins can stop the run and the Seahawk receivers can’t hold on to the ball, so how are the Seahawks going to score?
- Mike Holmgren couldn’t beat Spurrier (with George Edwards as Washington’s defensive coordinator), how is he going to beat Joe Gibbs/Gregg Williams?
As the game has drawn closer, however, thoughts of a potential easy victory have given way to some degree of trepidation. A great deal of it, as a matter of fact.
First of all, that road inferiority of Seattle’s is one of those lingering myths that has far outlived its basis in fact (Redskins fans are quite familiar with those). They went 4-4 on the road last year, a respectable mark. None of their wins was over a powerhouse team, but the Redskins certainly don’t fit into that category.
The inability of their receivers to get a grip on the ball is not as much of a problem as it used to be either. The King of the Dropsies, Koren Robinson, Seattle’s version of Michael Westbrook, was given his walking papers and by that subtraction it seems that the entire receiving corps has added considerable grip to its hands.
And, frankly, if Butch Davis and Mike Sherman were able to beat Gibbs and company last year, there’s no reason why Holmgren can’t do it this year.
So, with all of the myths stripped away, here is what we have on Sunday—2-1 vs. 2-0, a good Seattle offense against a very good Redskin defense and a shaky Washington offense against an average Seahawk defense.
At the risk of making a Master of the Obvious statement, we’ll know a lot more about how this game is going to go when we’re about 10 minutes into it. The Redskins need to establish some rhythm on offense. After their first couple of possessions, we’ll see if those two late bombs to Moss in Dallas have any effect on their ability to move the ball. Joe Gibbs, any offensive coach for that matter, is much more effective in calling plays when he has the defense guessing, when more than one aspect of the offense is working. If Seattle plays soft to prevent Moss from going deep, that can open up both Portis on the run and underneath passes to Chris Cooley.
That’s all Football 101 and most reading this already know that. The reason that it’s so important here is because football is a game of confidence, of momentum. Washington gained a big boost of both in the last five minutes of their last game. But that was a week ago Monday. If that is going to have any carryover effect, the Redskins have to have some offensive success in the early going. Otherwise they will struggle to score the 20 points that they may need to win.
So both strategically and emotionally, the first two possessions for the Redskins are critical. A couple of three and outs or even five or six and outs and they’re almost certainly in the doldrums the rest of the day. A couple of double-digit gains by Portis, a medium to long completion to Moss or to David Patten and Seattle will have a very hard time keeping up with them.
If I’m Joe Gibbs, I go play action and deep on the very first play I have the ball. Send a message, both to Seattle and to your own team, that the last time out was no fluke and that you’re willing to go deep at any time.
So how will all of this work out? The Redskins will contain Shaun Alexander, as they do every opposing running back, but he will get some yardage. Holmgren will try the “death by a thousand paper cuts” approach with West Coast offense, and, especially if Walt Harris is out with his calf injury, that may be reasonably effective. It’s not hard to envision Seattle scoring in the 13-17 point range.
That leaves it up to the Washington offense and, no disrespect to the Seattle defense, but the success there is largely up that unit. If they’re aggressive and take what they want to take rather than what the defense gives them they will move the ball and score points. If the attitude is to play it safe and take a nibble here and a probe there, they will have a problem scoring 13 points.
There is a chance that the Washington offense will explode and ring up 35 points, but it’s a slim one. We’ll probably see some modest but noticeable improvement. If that happens, Seattle doesn’t have much of a chance.
Redskins 20, Seahawks 13
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