Keys to Seattle Seahawks' 1st-Round Matchup with Washington Redskins
Led by Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, both teams have engineered fantastic turnarounds, and are among the best teams in football.
This will be a close game and an exciting one. What does Seattle need to do to ensure victory? What are the most important keys to the game?
Read on to find out.
Russell Wilson has defied expectations this year. Then again, he's been defying expectations for his entire life. A quarterback isn't supposed to be 5'11" and be successful. He'd have to move to wide receiver, to safety. Not all quarterbacks are Russell Wilson.
Russell Wilson doesn't listen to critics. He just works and gets the job done. That's what he's done in Seattle during his phenomenal rookie season. Wilson has thrown for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.
Wilson has been the steadying force this team has needed for some time. He's not flashy, but he gets the job done and wins.
Wilson will need to be at his best against the Redskins.
The Skins love to bring pressure. In fact, when they rush five or more defenders, they have gotten 12 interceptions, most in the league. Luckily for Seattle, Wilson hasn't thrown an interception against that kind of pressure since Week 7.
Wilson's not fazed by it, which is good because it will come a lot.
The 'Hawks will use a lot of play-action passing, as it is an area where Wilson has excelled. He is 14-of-15 in his last five games from the gun.
If Wilson does not perform well, it'll be hard for the Seahawks to win. While the Redskins are good, it seems wrong to question Wilson because he always seems to answer them in the right way.
Stopping Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III came into the league with high expectations and he's certainly met them. The rookie quarterback has thrown for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He's rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns.
Griffin has been a nightmare for opposing defenses, and Seattle won't feel any different. Stopping Griffin is critical to the Seahawks' success.
One area the team should focus on is play action. Griffin's average target on play action is five yards deeper than on non play-action plays, highest in the league. Griffin completes almost 60 percent of his passes off of play fakes,
This means that Seattle will have to be disciplined in its drops, not get fooled by the fake and make sure it drops deeper on play-action plays.
If Seattle plays smart on play action, and can get some pressure on Griffin, then it should be able to minimize his impact. If it can do that, it stands a pretty good chance at winning.
Containing Alfred Morris
The Seahawks have the 10th-best run defense in the league, giving up only 103.1 yards per game on the ground. They'll need that unit to come up big against the hard-charging Redskins.
Led by Alfred Morris, the Skins average an outstanding 169.3 rushing yards per game, best in the league. Morris, who went from unnoticed rookie to breakout star, has been fantastic, rushing for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns.
As Morris goes, so do the Redskins. When he's going good, the Redskins can utilize their fantastic pistol-option formation, which drives opposing defenses crazy.
There's no way to stop Morris and the run game, but the best the Seahawks can hope to do is contain it. That means making strong tackles, not falling for play fakes and reading run keys correctly.
The Seahawks do have a strong defensive line, and they'll need the unit to get a lot of penetration on the Redskins offensive line. Because the Skins utilize a zone-blocking scheme, linebackers like Bobby Wagner must maintain gap discipline and not over-pursue plays. If Morris gets a sliver of a cutback lane, then it's trouble.
The Seahawks have been good so far this year at doing so, but they face no bigger test than they do against the Redskins. If Morris is allowed to have a huge game, it will be a long night in the nation's capital for Seattle.