Here's a key matchup from the wild-card weekend finale, Seahawks at Redskins:
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson vs. Redskins’ pressure
The Seahawks, like the Redskins, are a dangerous passing team because of what their run game opens up. And also like the Redskins, the Seahawks can use the option as a weapon to achieve that end.
It has been a fairly recent development, but the Seahawks have started to use QB Russell Wilson as a designed run threat with the option, sprinkling in a package of plays from the shotgun that has developed their offense further.
The Redskins are a blitz-heavy operation, and they are sure unleash their double-A gap pressures (and others) at the rookie QB in his first postseason start. But will they pressure Wilson, who can escape pressure and run on his own well, as much as they did Tony Romo a week ago? Typically, blitzing means man coverage and man coverage means defenders' eyes are on the receivers, not the quarterback. That's risky.
Still, the Redskins believe in their pressure-heavy scheme.
“Our defense is geared to force quarterbacks to make quick decisions, right or wrong,” Redskins OLB Rob Jackson told PFW this week. Jackson has been a huge addition to the lineup with Brian Orakpo out since Week Two, making four INTs — including the game clincher last week vs. Tony Romo — along with 4½ sacks.
Jackson said Wilson is a different kind of athlete and thrower than Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, but very dangerous nonetheless.
“He can get out of the pocket and make guys miss,” Jackson said of Wilson, “having the sense of mind to stay behind the line until the last minute so that he can still throw downfield.
“I don’t think he can make as many throws as Robert from the pocket. His strength is getting out of the pocket; he wants to get out of it. Once he’s there, he can see the (passing) lanes open up.”
The sub-six-foot Wilson has not had many passes batted down this season and has found ways to get his passes to his receivers. In the past four games, his distribution has been impressive: No receiver has had more than four receptions in the 4-0 stretch during which the passing game has been at peak form.
Could the Redskins play more zone? It’s not their strength — and it might open their safeties, who are playing their best ball and allowing fewer deep mistakes in recent weeks, up to missed assignments and botched plays on deep balls.
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is the key to their offense, and the Redskins must contain him as best they can. But Wilson — and the option threat — add a new wrinkle, and Wilson’s ability to deal with pressure will prove very difficult. The Redskins must key on their gap control and tackle soundly. They can cover for three seconds in most cases, but can they cover for five when plays break down? Those have been instances when Wilson has shined, making something out of nothing, and why he’s a leading candidate along with Griffin to be the Rookie of the Year.