The (10-6) Washington Redskins get the (11-5) Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field on Sunday at 4:30 ET in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs.
It's Robert Griffin III against Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Bruce Irvin. It's also Russell Wilson against DeAngelo Hall, London Fletcher, Ryan Kerrigan and Barry Cofield in the NFC Wild Card Weekend's final game.
The Redskins will already know who they will play in the 2nd round (Atlanta or San Francisco) by the time they even kick-off to play this 1st round matchup, but the only thing they really should be (and are) worrying about is Pete Carroll's aggressive bunch.
With the playoffs here, I thought - why not start a new feature. An in-depth look at the opponent that is standing in the way of the Redskins continuing this somewhat magical carpet ride and might prevent the path to New Orleans to continue.
The Seahawks are led by Russell Wilson, a Richmond, Virginia native -- who grew up cheering for the Redskins, while attending only one game at FedEx Field. Wilson played at North Carolina State, and then transferred to Wisconsin for his final season before playing in the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile for the North squad (not coached by Redskins) and ultimately was drafted in the third round by Seattle.
Wilson, was well liked by the Redskins and Mike Shanahan in the pre-draft process, although he would not answer the question that was posed about Washington possibly taking him in the fourth round, over Kirk Cousins, if he was still available. "I really liked Russell. He has a lot of the intangibles you look for in a quarterback. He's really a class act," Shanahan said.
Shanahan mentioned they spent about an hour together at a Senior Bowl dinner, which I am not sure you spend that kind of time with someone, if you don't have a strong interest in their talents.
“That’s why we don’t talk about all of the different scenarios that could happen. I can’t tell you how many times we are going to pick a guy in the second, third or fourth round and the guy gets picked up just the pick before, Shanahan told the media assembled at Redskins Park on Wednesday.
I strongly believe the Redskins would have had a very difficult decision if Wilson was indeed available, but things happen for a reason, and Wilson beat out Matt Flynn and never looked back. " I liked the way he played. If you really went back and took a look at all of his games through college you can see that he had the ability to really run the football extremely well, even though he didn’t have to run it very many times because his big offensive line had him well-protected.”
A statistical look at Russell Wilson's rookie season, is pretty impressive. Wilson over his 16 games was (252-393, 3,118), 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Wilson ran the ball pretty darn good as well, to the tune of (94-489, 4 TD). His numbers were comparable to Robert Griffin III, but slightly below in the passing categories and a good deal behind in the running department.
A reason for that? Wilson's Head Coach Pete Carroll says about the Redskins "they're a more committed quarterback running team. They rely more on the QB to carry the load running the football. Ours (Seattle's offense) is a little more classic in the overall makeup of the offense that also features the quarterback on the edge and we utilize him [Wilson] in the running game some."
Wilson's split statistics show some interesting trends. The Seahawks as a team were (3-5) away from the friendly and loud confines of Quest Field. In road games this year, Wilson was (146-229) 1,614, 63.8 % along with 9 touchdowns and 8 Interceptions. He was sacked 15 times and had a 83.1 Rating . Wilson ran for the ball (47-266) on the road, for a 5.7 average, with 3 touchdowns.
On natural grass (FedEx Field), Wilson was (90-146, 1,013, 61.6%, 6 TD, 4 INT, 11 sacks), with rushing totals of (30-151, ZERO TD's). Wilson played all of his home games outdoors, and some of his road games, and obviously fared very well with a 22 TD vs 5 INT ratio, and a 64.5% completion rate.
Marshawn Lynch, when not making poor choices off the field is an absolute beast. He's run for 1,590 yards on 315 attempts for an average of 5.04/carry with 11 rushing touchdowns. How does that compare to Alfred Morris? Morris, thanks in-part to his brilliant game against Dallas - ran for 1,613 yards on 335 attempts for an average of 4.8/carry with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Mark Bullock (@UKRedskin1), who contributes to SBNation.com, did an excellent picture breakdown of how Marshawn Lynch can hurt the Redskins sbn.to/134lQmt.
Sidney Rice leads the Seahawks in receiving with 50 catches for 748 yards and 7 touchdowns. Golden Tate (who scored a touchdown in man vs. DeAngelo Hall last year) has 45 catches for 688 yards and 7 touchdowns as well. No other receiver on the Seahawks is about 400 yards but Doug Baldwin and Zack Miller are just below that mark and each have 3 touchdowns apiece.
As for what Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris & Pierre Garcon face - the Seahawks defense is 1st in the NFL in points per game (15.3), total points allowed (245) and 4th in yards per game allowed (306.2).
Richard Sherman leads the team with 8 interceptions, including a touchdown return. Sherman also has a blocked kick return for a touchdown against San Francisco. He won his appeal last week for violating the NFL's performance enhancement policy, and will be a full-go. Of course, that is a bad break for the Redskins.
Brandon Browner returns from his four-game suspension, and adds his 3 interceptions to the mix. Safety Earl Thomas also has three picks and a touchdown.
You will hear a lot, and rightfully so about the unusually tall Seahawks secondary. Sherman is (6-3, 195), Browner is even bigger at (6-4, 221). Strong Safety Kam Chancellor out of Virginia Tech, is (6-3, 232). I asked Pete Carroll on Wednesday via tele-conference what attributes stood out to him, specifically on Sherman and Browner.
"They're really tall. They're really long. Both guys have a real knack for the position as well. They're not just tall guys out there playing. They both ball-hawk and can catch the football well. They both run real well," Carroll said.
The Seahawks rank sixth in the NFL in pass defense (203.1) and have generated 36 sacks along with their 18 interceptions. Overall, Seattle is tied for 5th in the NFL at plus-13 in turnover differential. The Redskins, have lived off of creating turnovers and not committing them, at a robust plus-17.
Former Redskins DE Chris Clemons leads the Hawks in sacks at 11.5. Rookie DL/OLB Bruce Irvin has 8 sacks and Brandon Mebane has 3 sacks at the defensive tackle spot.
Special Teams figure to always be important in any game, but perhaps this one will be even more important. Seahawks PK Steven Hauschka is (24-27) on field goals, but has actually missed two extra point attempts (46-48). Punter Jon Ryan has a gross average of 45.6 with a net of 40.8 per punt, with 30 punts downed inside-the-20.
Leon Washington had 2 long kickoff returns (2-86) for the Seahawks in last-years Redskins win in Seattle. He broke off a 51-yard return, that was only stopped by a tackle by Graham Gano. Washington this year is averaging 29.0 per kick return, with a 98-yard return for a touchdown. Washington also is averaging 8.7 per punt return, with a long of 52. "Neon Leon" as the Seahawks call him, is 2nd overall in the NFL (1st - NFC) in kick return average. He has eight career kickoff return touchdowns, which ties him for first all-time with Josh Cribbs of Cleveland. When the Redskins played the Browns, Cleveland had had 7 returns for 191 yards, and a 27.3 average.
Red Bryant is a beast on blocked kicks, as the Redskins found out first-hand, and the 49'ers discovered on Sunday Night Football two weeks ago. Last year in Seattle, Bryant blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt by Graham Gano and also blocked an extra point attempt. Bryant had two blocked field goal attempts in Cleveland in October of 2011, and has four overall in his career. Watch for Bryant right up the middle against the Redskins protection scheme. Kai Forbath had his only missed extra-point attempt of the season, blocked against Pittsburgh.
I haven't completely made up my mind yet...I keep flipping back and forth on a prediction. As I type this, I am on the Seattle side by a nose, or a blocked kick, but my prediction is completely up for grabs and available to be swayed. For now, 21-20 Seattle.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980