The regular season has come to an end, now it’s time for the second season. From September to December, all 32 team go through the NFL regular season just to get to the playoffs. Back in September everyone started 0-0 and had an equal shot at making the post-season. With only six playoff teams per conference, seeding is a big thing.
Coach Joe Gibbs and company will be playing in January for the second time since his return four years ago. Getting here wasn’t easy; the Redskins have five starters on the season-ending injured reserve lists (not including Sean Taylor). This isn’t uncommon in the NFL, five other teams had five starters on their injured reserve lists. Those five teams had their seasons come to an end last week. Playoff teams averaged 2.8 starters on season-ending reserve lists heading into Week 17. Non-playoff teams averaged 4.6 starters on those lists.
The Redskins survived losing six of their original starting 22 and reached the playoffs by stockpiling young talent. LaRon Landry was acquired in the first round of the draft. Players like undrafted offensive tackle Stephon Heyer (23), who replaced right tackles Jon Jansen and Todd Wade, and free safety Reed Doughty (25) who was a backup strong safety until Sean Taylor's death - have stepped into starting roles.
Then there are guys like linebacker H.B. Blades (23) filling in for Rocky McIntosh and Leigh Torrence (25) the third corner (who started the season as the team's fifth corner) that have been playing in spot duty. With an aging defensive line Anthony Montgomery (23), Chris Wilson (25) and Kedric Golston (24) have all been major contributors during the current run. If all goes well, the Washington Redskins are embarking on a road trip that will take them all the way to Glendale, Arizona.
The route they must take will make its first stop over at Qwest Field in Seattle, next it’s on to Texas Stadium. If the bandwagon doesn’t run out of gas or blow (more) tires they’ll make one final stop in Tampa Bay, New York or Green Bay. Going into the post-season as the number six seed means every game will be played on the road.
News, Notes and Quotes:<\u>
-- During the Redskins four game winning streak (which earned them the final playoff spot) it has truly been a team effort. Quarterback Todd Collins has completed 67 of his 105 pass attempts with five touchdowns and no interceptions, running back Clinton Portis has at least 120 yards from scrimmage in each game (102 touches for 503 yards and 4 touchdowns), and the offense has averaged 26 points a game.
Antwaan Randle EL said the biggest difference in the offensive production over the past month has been the coach’s conscious decision to be more aggressive in the second half of games. Randle El said it was after the Buffalo game that the coaches decided to "let loose." On the defensive side of the ball Washington has allowed only about 13 points per game in the past four, cornerback Shawn Springs has four picks and 10 passes defended in that time span and the rushing defense held Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor to 41 yards two weeks ago only to follow it up by yielding just one yard rushing in last week’s game.
-- Running back Clinton Portis moved pass Earnest Byner and Terry Allen this season this season with 4,616 yards as a Redskin, he now trails only Stephen Davis, John Riggins and Larry Brown. Portis didn’t mention being the fourth best back in Redskins history, he talked about his teammates: "Guys have been forced into roles,’ "I don't think any other team in the league went through as many injuries as we went through, and the good thing about it is we are finding a way to just plug people in and continue. It's all under the scheme, and guys giving all they got. It might not be the same talent level, but it's the same effort level. They're giving all their effort and making plays. That's how we are finding a way to win."
-- Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs, defensive end Phillip Daniels, and left guard Pete Kendall were all drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. Kendall was the Seahawks' first-round draft choice in 1996, Daniels was their fourth-round draft choice in the same draft and Springs was the first-round draft choice the next year. Randall Godfrey started 14 games for the Seahawks during the 2003 season, the only season he was with the team.
-- Former Washington defensive tackle Darryl Grant commenting on the job Joe Gibbs has done since the death of Sean Taylor: "I've seen a tenacity I hadn't seen earlier in the season. The turnaround has been like night and day.
Through tragedy comes triumph. The players have had a real opportunity to reflect on their personal lives and focus on what's important. They realize how fast things can change.
I think the guys as a whole finally realize what coach Gibbs is all about. They saw his strength and consistency as they struggled to cope with a very tragic situation, the death of a teammate. This ordeal has galvanized them. They've grown up as a team and matured as individuals. I think they'll beat Seattle, and they could have one of those miracle seasons," Grant said. "I really do believe that's going to happen."
-- Former Redskin Brian Mitchell commenting on the job Gibbs has done: "Joe is a great leader, and Joe also wants his players to lead and make good decisions. I kept waiting for the old Joe Gibbs to appear and he finally did.
Joe always has been one to believe in sportsmanship, but he's always had this controlled aggression, too. I'm seeing that again. Unfortunately, it took a tragic event but people have come together, I feel that they should beat Seattle, but you really can't look beyond that game. Todd Collins has been exceptional, and he's been the big key. If they protect him, anything could happen."
The Redskins head out to Seattle for a Saturday game, it’s the NFC Wildcard game and technically the first professional football game of 2008. The Seahawks are the NFC West Champions and seeded third. The kickoff is scheduled for 4:30PM EST at Qwest Field. Seattle has one of the toughest home-field advantages in the NFL; they are 23-4 at home since 2005. The Seahawks are led by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (91.4 QB rating, 3966 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions) and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (109 tackles -- 83 solo/26 assists -- one sack and three fumbles). They are ranked tenth in points scored and the defense is ranked seventh in points allowed.
Since 2001, Washington leads the series 4-1:
Jan 14, 2006 … @SEA 20, WAS 10
Oct 2, 2005 … @WAS 20, SEA 17
Nov 9, 2003 … @WAS 27, SEA 20
Nov 3, 2002 … WAS 14, @SEA 3
Nov 4, 2001 … @WAS 27, SEA 14
Left tackle Chris Samuels, left guard Pete Kendall and center Casey Rabach have been available for just about every game this season, while the right side of the line as been a who’s who of backup players.
Seattle's tackle Walter Jones was selected to his eighth Pro Bowl but the loss of guard Steve Hutchinson and the retirement of center Robbie Tobeck has slowed the Seahawk’s rushing attack.
-- DEFENSIVE LINE:
Second-year defensive tackles Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery along with backup defensive ends Chris Wilson and Demetric Evans have added quality depth and youth to a line that many considered old and in need of a upgrade.
The Seahawk’s interior line is anchored by Brandon Mebane and Rocky Bernard, Patrick Kerney who is headed to his second Pro Bowl and Darryl Tapp are the Ends. The Seahawks are ranked fourth in the NFL with 45 sacks.
Todd Collins versus Matt Hasselbeck
Since Collins replaced Jason Campbell due to injury the Redskins are 4-0 and he has thrown five touchdowns, no interceptions and the NFC Player of the Month award for December.
Hasselbeck had a pretty good season, and the offense was difficult to defend once they decided to emphasize the pass more.
-- RUNNING BACKS:
Clinton Portis versus Shaun Alexander
Portis struggled with injuries all season but finished with 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Alexander had less than 1,000 yards rushing for the second consecutive year and only had three touchdowns although he split time with Maurice Morris
Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El versus Bobby Engram and Deion Branch
Moss and Randle El are healthy after suffering early season injuries and are playing with fresh legs. Backups Reche Caldwell and Keenan McCardell have provided some much needed depth.
Engram is Hasselbeck’s favorite target and had a career year receptions, yards and touchdowns, injuries have slowed Branch who ranks third on the team in receptions as Nate Burleson has put together his best season in years.
-- TIGHT ENDS:
Chris Cooley versus Marcus Pollard
Though he is not technically a tight end, Cooley had a career-high eight touchdowns this season.
Pollard has played well for the Seahawks this season with 28 receptions and two touchdowns
London Fletcher, Marcus Washington and Randall Godfrey versus Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson and Leroy Hill
Fletcher seem to be the middle linebacker that Gregg Williams had in mind when he came up with his blitz happy schemes and leads the team in tackles with 128 tackles. Washington recorded five sacks in an injury-plagued season.
Pro Bowlers Julian Peterson (selected to his fourth) and Lofa Tatupu (selected to his third) are the team leaders in tackles and sacks respectively.
-- DEFENSIVE BACKS:
Shawn Springs, Fred Smoot, LaRon Landry, and Reed Doughty versus Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Deon Grant and Brian Russell
The Redskins defensive backfield has been short-handed with the death of Sean Taylor and the Carlos Rogers' season-ending injury so Doughty has moved “down in the box” and Landry is now “the centerfielder”, third-year cornerback Leigh Torrence is now the “nickleback”.
Trufant had three interceptions against the Cardinals in Week 14 to boost his season total to seven and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Safeties Grant and Russell aren’t household names but get the job done.
Due to NFL rules and the Saturday game the Redskins will not release an Injury Report until Friday afternoon.
QB Jason Campbell (knee) is listed as Out
Campbell threw a few passes on the sidelines during Wednesday’s practiced
WR James Thrash (ankle) is listed as Doubtful
Thrash has not practiced all week.
The following players are done for the 2007 season:
FB Broughton, Nehemiah (Knee)
TE Ecker, Tyler (Groin)
WR Espy, Mike (Knee)
WR Harris, Steven (Knee)
WR McAddley, Jason (Hamstring)
OL Tucker, Ross (Neck)
OT Jansen, Jon (Ankle)
CB Carlos Rogers (Neck)
RG Randy Thomas (Arm)
LB Rocky McIntosh (Knee)
C Mike Pucillo (Back)