October 6, 2014 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game
1. Protect Kirk Cousins:
-The Seahawks lack a true "sackmaster", but still generate a good pass rush with two proven threats in Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Bennett and Avril do a lot of damage by just getting hits and pressure on the QB which forces rushed throws which have a way of becoming interceptions with this Seattle secondary. The Seahawks Defense works extremely well in concert together, using a strong run defense to force a lot of passing situations and a physical secondary that will press receivers and delay the time it takes for them to get open, forcing the QB to hold on to the ball. It makes it very tough to have a quick passing game to neutralize the pass rush, and will force Kirk Cousins to hold on to the ball for longer than some of his other games.
That means the offensive line has to step up and maintain their blocks for longer if the Redskins are to move the football. It won't be an easy task if the Redskins were at full strength, and it is much tougher with both LT Trent Williams and LG Shawn Lauvao listed as Questionable (Lauvao probably won't play and Williams will be less than 100%). Excuses though don't matter as the Redskins have get the job done and give Cousins a clean pocket.
2. Find Balance on Offense:
-Logically the Redskins are going to want to run the ball and let their star back Alfred Morris control this game, but practically it seems like the Redskins will need to throw the ball more, given the Seahawks tough run defense and the likelihood they will be up early in this game. The reality of the situation is that the Redskins need to find balance if they are to threaten the Seahawks and steal the game. They aren't going to be able to run the ball against this defense if there isn't even the threat of a passing offense, and the Seahawks will easily crush the Redskins Defense if the Redskins can't sustain drives and use the clock. The Redskins aren't going to win a shoot out versus Seattle so they have to limit the possessions they allow the Seahawks.
3. Limit Penalties and Turnovers:
-In 4 games the Redskins have committed 45 penalties (9 have been either declined or offsetting), and committed 9 turnovers, both are unacceptable trends to continue throughout the season and a major concern facing off versus a good team like the Seahawks. The Redskins can't hope to beat Seattle if they lose the turnover battle and give up a number of free yards and first downs. They don't have the offense and defense to overcome those types of mistakes and if they continue to make them they will keep losing.
4. Blitz Often:
-It would be great if the Redskins could get consistent pressure on the quarterback with a four man rush, but that hasn't been the case thus far this season. The Redskins need to adapt and have to start blitz and being more creative in their pass rushing. It can leave some openings in the back-end, but those openings are already there when the Redskins are in max coverage anyways so it's really not going to hurt their defense. Russell Wilson is a smart quarterback overall who limits turnovers, so blitzing might not lead to interceptions, but it could lead to some more incomplete passes and maybe a few sacks.
5. Bottle up Lynch:
-One thing that will help put the Redskins in favorable blitzing conditions is if they can limit Marshawn Lynch on the ground. Not only could this force the Seahawks to be more one dimensional, but it should help put them behind the chains in a lot of favorable 3rd and long blitzing situations. The Redskins have done a good job versus the run so far this season, but the Giants had some more success last week than backs had in the previous games. Lynch will prove to be a tough test and the Redskins defensive line still might not be 100%. For them to win this game though, this has to be a battle they win.
6. Maintain Coverage Responsibilities:
-A big issue facing the Redskins this season is the continued blown coverages they've allowed throughout the season. Weeks 1 and 2 it wasn't as noticeable given the lack of talent at QB facing this defense, but as the QB's got better these past two weeks they've been exploited quite a bit in coverage. Though he was struggling as well, the loss of corner back DeAngelo Hall, has really exposed just how weak this unit is. Between the inside linebackers, corners and safeties, the only guys who can really be trusted to maintain consistent coverage are ILB Keenan Robinson and FS Ryan Clark. Everyone has been a pretty major liability these past two weeks, and if things don't get better soon it's going to be a very long season. While some of it is just a sheer lack of talent in this group, a lot of it is just poor execution of their assignments and just outright mistakes. Now some of that will occur in even the best defenses in the league, but this is happening just far too often. It's a big reason why the pass rush hasn't been able to get home and cause pressure or generate sacks this year. Far too often at least one (and many times multiple) major coverage mistake is happening on a given play. This gives a capable quarterback a quick, simple and safe outlet to get rid of the ball. That is just making it too easy for the opposing offense, and has to end ASAP.
7. Limit Special Teams mistakes:
-The Redskins special teams remains a major issue going forward, and something that needs to be fixed. Whether it is a missed block, a long return allowed, a key penalty or simply a bad decision mistakes are happening multiple times each and every game. The Seahawks in three games have 19 total accepted penalties, the Redskins special teams in 4 games has 10 all by themselves. That is horrendous for a unit that only has maybe 15 plays a game (if that). The Redskins just can't afford these types of mistakes on special teams as it is killing them in the field position battle far too often. The Seahawks have a dangerous kick returner in Percy Harvin, so the Redskins must be extra cautious when they kick-off.