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Final Thoughts

Jan 13, 2006, 9:58 AM EST

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net A few thoughts in the last hours before the game that don’t fit anywhere else:

  • The conventional wisdom is that the pressure is all on the Seahawks; I’m not so sure about that. Although very few from the outside thought that the Redskins would be where they are now, they thought that they would. In minicamp, Jon Jansen sat in front of the assembled media and announced that it was his goal, and the team’s goal, was to play in the Super Bowl in Jansen’s home state of Michigan. It seemed like bravado at the time, but if these guys don’t believe that they can win it all they wouldn’t be there all offseason pumping weights, going through chalk talks and walking through plays. Certainly Joe Gibbs realizes that you don’t often find yourself two wins away from the Super Bowl and you have to take advantage of the situation. Jansen, having been in the playoffs after his 1999 rookie season and not since, can certainly add his perspective to that point.The Redskins are putting the pressure on themselves. Fans may think that they are playing with house money. The players and coaches do not. They’re playing with money earned in Ashburn in March, April, and May.
  • This team put up 35, 35, and 31 in its last three games of the regular season against defenses in the same category with Seattle’s. I just heard Ron Jaworski (who I generally respect) giving the fact that Chris Samuels struggled against Simeon Rice last week as a reason that the Washington offense will struggle and the Seahawks will win. Was there a trade that we haven’t heard about? Or has Grant Wistrom all of a sudden become a Rice-like force? I certainly don’t have an issue with people picking the Seahawks to win since they are the logical strong favorites. But at least use some points that make some sense in doing so.
  • I had heard that Shaun Alexander is a “me” kind of guy. Last year, he celebrated his team’s division title clinching in the season’s last game by saying “I got stabbed in the back” since he hadn’t met his individual goal of leading the NFL in rushing. I hadn’t heard the unflattering nickname “Soft Shaun”. This is not a moniker bestowed on him by the media; it was his teammates who dubbed him this for his propensity to run out of bounds rather the fight for additional yardage.
  • On the message board at WarpathInsiders.com, the Redskins site that I’m the editor of, someone came up with a great analogy for the two teams’ offenses. The Seahawk offense is a purebred greyhound—sleek, swift, smooth. The Redskins offense is an old mutt with an attitude; it’s ugly and often can’t get out of its own way but at times you don’t want to have anything to do with it.
  • One of the keys to the game is the Redskins getting some small degree of productivity out of the #2 receiver spot. James Thrash, who isn’t much of a threat but can find the first-down marker a couple of times a game, is probably out with a broken thumb. That leaves Taylor Jacobs and all one can do is hope that he finally gets it, runs the right patterns and can move the chains a few times. Jimmy Farris, anyone?
  • If that fails, Plan B has to be to throw to Portis. His paucity of receptions—he as fewer than two a game—is one of the more puzzling aspects of this offense. If you get him out there is space with the ball, he can go a long way.
  • Pulling out another play from the Tandler playbook, look for a pump and go on the bubble screen to Santana Moss early in the game. Teams have been jumping that play for the past several weeks and its effectiveness has diminished. Faking the short pass and then sending Moss downfield could result it a big play. If not, it will at least force the defense to loosen up.
  1. Seattlite - Jan 13, 2006 at 2:34 PM

    The Redskins offenses this year is phenomenally better than the 2000 Ravens. No question about it. Previous posts were pointing to the Ravens as the reason this year’s Skins were going to succeed and I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew the two teams are not really even comparable.

    Also, I want to state for the record that I am not trying to be an instigator… well not too much anyway. I am a Seahawks fan and I get tired of reading the Hawks message boards of people exchanging hotel room numbers for Detroit. I want to hear differing opinions. This blog is well thought-out and offers good insight and information. But still, I gotta get my opinion in too, that’s what blogs are all about!

    And now how I (and most Seahawk fans) see the matchups:

    Quarterbacks – Brunell is the seasoned veteran that has won a few playoff games and Hasslebeck is a the new guy trying to learn how to win a pressure situation… but hold on. This is Hasslebeck’s 7th season in the NFL and his 5th as a starter. He led the NFC in passer rating and is going to the Pro Bowl and is an All-Pro. He’s constantly referred to as the best QB running the west coast offense right now. EDGE – Hawks.

    Running Backs – I want to just say Alexander the Great and be done with it. He led the NFL in Rushing and TDs. BUT… Clinton Portis was 4th in the NFL in rushing and the difference between them equated to about 22 yards a game. That’s like 3-4 carries for these guys. Really, if you put Portis behind the Seahawks O-Line, I think you might see the numbers switched. Also, I read here that Portis doesn’t catch enough out of the backfield, well Shaun only had 15 receptions ALL year. Edge – Toss Up.

    Wide Receivers – The best wide receiver in the game Saturday will be Santana Moss. But as far as all around talent, the Seahawks spread the ball to 5 different wide receivers. The Hawks may not have the big play threat, but they have many more options out wide, but if this a break down of our two starters against there two starters…. Edge – Skins.

    Tight Ends – Seahawks have Jerramy Stevens and he’s good. Redskins have Chris Cooley and he’s in the midst of a career year. Edge – Skins.

    Offensive Line – Seahawks have three all-pro linemen and two starters in the Pro Bowl. This is the reason Alexander leads the league in rushing. This is the reason Hasslebeck runs the west coast offense so well. The Seahawks have the best offensive line in football. Edge – Hawks.

    Defensive Line – I’ve read a lot about how the Redskins O-Line is so much bigger than the Seahawks D-Line. It’s true. Our Defensive line has lost the paper matchup to just about every team we played. Still, the Seahawks led the league in Sacks. Renaldo Wynn is going to have to get it done, because Daniels is not going to get around the best Left Tackle in the league. Edge – Hawks.

    Linebackers – The Redskins have two guys with over 90 tackles with Marshall and Washington. This seems to be the strong point of the Skins Defense. The Seahawks have Tatupu playing great and he will be an all-pro someday, but not Saturday. Edge – Skins.

    Secondary – The Seahawks are very banged up in the secondary with guys coming back for this game that haven’t played in weeks. Springs and Taylor are two of the better D-backs in the game. Edge – Skins.

    Special Teams – John Hall didn’t play half the season and never made a FG over 50 yards. Josh Brown missed the FG to win the game in Week 4 and hasn’t missed since. Punters are both pretty good and about even. Both Teams average about the same on Punt and Kickoff returns. But the difference is in the kickers…. Edge – Hawks.

    That’s my two cents… okay, maybe three cents.

  2. Joe - Jan 13, 2006 at 2:35 PM

    Rich, I hesitate to blast Shaun Alexander for being “soft.” He’s the MVP for a reason. If he runs out of bounds when there are no more yards to gain and saves himself for another play, I call that being smart. Don’t forget that he’s also playing for a contract right now.

    Elite backs like LT, Tiki, and Larry Johnson have given our defense fits this season. It wasn’t until recently that we’ve been able to bottle up runners. In my opinion, containing Alexander is THE key to this game.

    On offense, I don’t think the screens or pump-and-gos will much matter. It’s going to be 40-gut, 50-gut, Counter Trey, 70-chip all day long. I doubt Seattle has played a team as committed to running the football as the Redskins are. The team that runs the ball the best in the 4th quarter will win.

    Seeing as how the Skins have been winning that battle for 6 weeks running, I like our chances.

  3. Anonymous - Jan 13, 2006 at 4:39 PM

    i am huge skins fan and have been since Jack Pardee was the coach.
    That said, I just can’t see it this weekend. (Do I ever hope I’m wrong)

    Basically I have been thinking exactly along the lines of Simmons at Page 2. (and predicted almost the identical score)

    SEAHAWKS (-9.5) over Redskins
    Rule No. 10 of the Manifesto applies here: “Only pick an underdog or a road team if you’re convinced it has a chance to win the game outright.”

    Four reasons why the Redskins seem cooked to me …

    1. After they grabbed that two-touchdown lead in Tampa, Joe Gibbs clearly shifted into “I’m not taking another chance” mode. He doesn’t trust their offense. It’s obvious. There’s a reason Washington’s best drive on Saturday was 10 plays for 40 yards — for the entire second half, they were playing not to lose.

    2. There’s a difference between “a little banged up” and “laboring and suffering” … and Clinton Portis was laboring and suffering with that bum shoulder last weekend. He looked miserable. Don’t see that one getting better in a week.

    3. Six straight must-win games for the Skins … that adds up after awhile, doesn’t it? Let’s say that Edell Shepherd hangs onto that game-tying touchdown pass in Tampa (and I’m not sure how he dropped it) with three minutes to play. Did anyone think the Skins had enough left in the tank to win that game? Now they have to fly cross-country and play in one of the toughest stadiums in the league? Against a well-rested team that puts up 30 points a game at home?

    4. Let’s say the Skins fall behind by double-digits in this one. Have you seen anything from their offense lately to make you even remotely think they could come back? There’s always one blowout in Round 2. Always. And this looks like the one.

    The Pick: Seahawks 30, Washington 6

    It’s been a fantastic year and I am really looking forward to the game. But….

    (btw a win here and I sure as hell won’t go against them next weekend)

  4. Joe - Jan 13, 2006 at 7:06 PM

    Get real. No one’s getting blown out. This will be a cold and rainy fight for 4 quarters.

    This nonsense about Seattle being the toughest stadium in the NFC silly. ESPN just says these things to drive ratings. Do you honestly believe that Qwest is a tougher location than Lambeau, Soldier, Lincoln Financial, FedEx, the Meadowlands, or Texas Stadium?

    Buck up, little buddy. The Redskins will be just fine.

  5. Anonymous - Jan 13, 2006 at 7:23 PM

    The main way I see the Redskins winning this game is winning the turnover battle, great special teams play, and winning the field position battle. Force Seattle to put together very long drives if they want to score (our sub-par punter doesn’t help much on this but maybe he could have the game of his life). Not exactly things you can count on, but I think its our biggest hope when you consider how banged up Portis and Chris Sammules are not to mention Brunnel (who as we saw last year is not very good when he plays hurt). With an ineffective, injured Portis, Moss will draw double teams from the safety. The linebackers will key on Cooley and Betts. No weapons left. Also, I have a feeling the crowd noise is going to be insane – looks like that stadium has large overhangs which I suppose are designed to shield people from the rain. Those have a tendency to cause crowd noise to reflect back into the stadium. Similar to RFK. Its going to be very tough. But you never know.

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