Wildcard Saturday: Washington vs. Seattle
By Chris Pokorny, PFCritics WriterJanuary 5, 2008
It's been a miraculous comeback for Todd Collins and the Washington Redskins after the tragic death of Sean Taylor. Will Matt Hasselbeck be able to calm the Redskins' storm to have a re-match with the Green Bay Packers (we all remember Hasselbeck's overtime playoff meltdown against them a few years ago).
Todd Collins: 67 of 105 for 888 yards, 5 touchdowns, 0
interceptions, 7 sacks, 2 fumbles.
Note: Taking over for the injured Jason Campbell several weeks ago,
Collins was a blessing in disguise this season for the Redskins'
quarterback situation. When a team lacks explosive receivers, you need a
quarterback that can manage the game and drop the ball into the hands of
his receivers in opportune times. Not throwing an interception in his four
games played shows the ball security he'll need to succeed in the
Matt Hasselbeck: 352 of 562 for 3966 yards, 28 touchdowns, 12 interceptions,
33 sacks, 5 fumbles.
Note: The Redskins are fourth in the league against the run. That
means that Hasselbeck will have to throw the ball often. Good news: he's
had to throw the ball all season. Hasselbeck threw for a career high in
yardage and touchdowns and was still able to limit the number of picks he
threw. Having won the NFC West for several consecutive seasons, Hasselbeck
definitely has the postseason experience needed to execute in crunch time.
Note: Portis managed to stay healthy for a full 16-game season,
although you still have to agree with the contract extension the team gave
to Betts the previous season. The Seahawks feature a fairly balanced
defense with a few stout pass rushers. The Redskins would be wise to try
and force a few of the Seahawks' defenders to rush outside through the use
of a draw play in shotgun.
Note: Where to start with the Seahawks' running game? It's been so
unreliable this season that it would almost be suicide if the Seahawks
attempted to establish the ground game as a threat early on. Hasselbeck has
been efficient throwing the ball to close out the season, although his
spark was limited in Week 15 against the Panthers. If that happens in the
postseason, the Seahawks will likely turn to Morris instead of the veteran
Note: The Redskins ran with the same group of receivers for the
second season in a row. While it's hard to complain since they made the
postseason, the receivers failed to flourish prior to their hot run under
Collins. When your two starting receivers can only manage a combined four
touchdowns, the opportunities are limited down near the red zone.
Thankfully the Redskins do have Cooley, who is having another solid season
at the tight end position.
Note: You know the Seahawks are well versed at the receiver position
when the fullback has 39 catches on the season. While Engram has the most
receptions, any of Hasselbeck's receivers -- including the returning D.J.
Hackett -- can catch the ball when they are in the lineup.
Note: While the Redskins' defense seemed to receive a lift after the
death of Sean Taylor, they've been playing very well the entire season. The
thing that was impressive during their four-game winning streak at the end
of the season is that they took care of the defending NFC Champions, the
other two teams in their division that made the playoffs, and a red-hot
Vikings team. They've faced teams capable of postseason play for a month
now, and that means they are ready to face another one.
Note: It'll be Patrick Kerney's job to try and disrupt the rhythm
that Collins has established in the Redskins' offense the past four games.
Although that seems like a tall order, with proper game-planning the
Seahawks have the potential to really limit what Collins is capable of
doing. He's been a career backup for a reason, and one bad performance will
show that. Lofa Tatupa, Marcus Trufant, and Julian Peterson provide the
youth and veteran talents necessary to make the plays that win games.
Antwaan Randle El: 6.1 yards per punt return. Shaun Suisham: 29-of-35 in field goals, with a long of 50 yards.
Note: Randle El has been in the playoffs before, but his return
ability as a punt returner with the Redskins has been down this year. What
hasn't been down is the reliability provided by kicker Shaun Suisham, who
has connected on 10 of 13 attempts between 40 and 49 yards.
Nate Burleson: 21.9 yards per kick return, 1 touchdown. 11.3 yards
per punt return, 1 touchdown. Josh Brown: 28-of-34 in field goals, with a long of 54 yards.
Note: Burleson has had a quiet knack of returning kicks well at
opportune times. The Redskins would hate to put together a long drive only
to see him give Seattle great field position. The Seahawks couldn't want
anyone else besides Brown to be in position for a game-winner.
Todd Collins is about to step into an atmosphere that he's never been in
before, and on the road where the "12th man" plays such a vital role, it's
hard to say he'll be able to lead the Redskins to a victory. I'm not saying
he'll necessarily struggle, but I doubt that he'll have the same type of
success he's had over the past several weeks.
The Seahawks are going to have to heavily rely on Matt Hasselbeck all game
long. If Mike Holmgren gets stuck in a habit of trying to establish the
running game, the only thing he's going to be doing is giving the Redskins
more opportunities to hang around in the game. Holmgren's clock management
skills have been very poor in the past, so if the Seahawks find themselves
down by two possessions in the fourth quarter, the Redskins should be able
to put the game away.
The offenses are going to be able to do what they expect to be able to do.
Hasselbeck will be able to throw the ball, and Collins and the Redskins
will execute on the finer plays to keep themselves in the game. A Redskins
turnover late while trying to come back and tie the game will cost them