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.