Key Matchups - Game Day

One of the possible matchups this Sunday in Seattle will feature one of the 70 Greatest Redskins - Darrell Green, versus Bobby Engram. While the matchups between Seahawks receivers and Redskins defensive backs will vary, the Hawks will try to match up Engram with Green.

Darrell Green vs. Bobby Engram
By Scott Moore

Engram gets the start this week, filling in for an injured Darrell Jackson. Jackson was knocked unconcious and suffered a seizure in the locker room following a cheap shot, spearing hit from Cowboys' Darren Woodson last week. Jackson is the Seahawks top receiver, and will be held out of this week's game. Engram, a five year veteran, is quick, shifty and talented in the open field. He returned punts in 1996 for the Bears, and has resumed the duty for the Seahawks this season. He has very good hands and is fearless over the middle.

Flanking Engram are, Koren Robinson, the Hawks #2 WR and James Willliams, an untested youngster with good speed. Look for Smoot and Bailey to shut down Robinson and limit the option to Williams or Engram. The relative success of their ground game and the score will dictate how often the Seahawks throw the ball.

Darrell Green will have opportunities to make plays on Sunday, especially on quick-slants. Green has a great knack for jumping those routes and breaking up the pass - if not picking it off. Matt Hasselback is in for the injured Trent Dilfer and may underestimate Green's ability due to his age and a perceived advantage with the younger Engram. Look for Darrell to have a BIG day for the Redskins. Don't be surprised to see the 41-year-old blitz from the outside, as the Skins rotate coverage to Engram with Arrington in position to make a pick of his own.

Shaun Alexander vs. Jeremiah Trotter
By Eric Johnson

He's a star on the rise. Last year, Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander started 12 games due to injuries to Ricky Watters. His accomplishments? 1,318 yards (109.8 per game average). 16 touchdowns, including an NFL-leading 14 rushing TDs, second only to Marshall Faulk. The longest offensive TD in Seahawks' history, 88 yards against the Raiders (he added two more that day). And perhaps the gaudiest mark of all, in that same Raiders game: 266 yards gained on the ground. 4th best in the NFL. Ever.

This year, Alexander has had a bit of a stiffer time. He's only surpassed 100 yards once so far, against the Vikings in one of the Seahawks' two victories this year. They have the 29th-ranked rushing offense in the league. But Alexander still impresses the minds that matter. Rams coach Mike Martz said, "He is a do-all back. He has all of the skills. He is not an outside guy or a thrasher inside. He has all of those things that bother you defensively. He is a guy that when you hit him the pile goes forward. He can jump cut in and out of holes. He is a tremendous player. He is in the elite."

Elite or not, Alexander's going to have a tough time going up against the Redskins' improving run defense. And a face he's likely to see a lot in the middle of any gap is MLB Jeremiah Trotter. After a few weeks of trying to get comfortable in Defensive Coordinator Marvin Lewis's scheme, Trotter is starting to bring it hard. He's playing well within the scheme, trusting his teammates to play where they're supposed to while he focuses on his assignments. Trotter is reading plays as they unfold, ranging across the field and filling gaps with devastating stops. He helped LaVar Arrington chase down and knock Packers QB Brett Favre from the game. Against Indy, the two of them were ready to begin construction on a log cabin, they spent so much time camped in the Colts' backfield. Shaun Alexander will serve as a great test.

Before their off week, the Skins defense was giving up 358 yards a game; since then, they've knocked that to 275.3 yards. They're now the 8th-ranked defense in the league.

Shane Matthews vs. Seattle secondary
By Martin Collinson

With Stephen Davis likely to have to sit out this game and Kenny Watson in line to make his first NFL start at RB, more responsibility will fall onto Shane Matthews and the passing attack to provide enough offense to even up the 'Skins record at 4 - 4.

Shane Matthews returned to the starting job in relief of rookie Pat Ramsey last week and put in a solid effort throwing for 214 yards and 2 TDs. As importantly... there were no INTs, no fumbles and only 1 sack. Right now Shane Matthews brings consistency at the QB spot for the Skins .. He may not have the big arm but he makes up for that by understanding the offense and making the reads which allow him to know where he wants to go with the football. He also has the veteran ability to know when he has held the ball long enough and when to take off and run or throw it away. Pat Ramsey has shown enough to give hope that he is the QB of the future for the Redskins - but Shane Matthews is the QB of the present.

The Seattle pass defense that Matthews will be throwing against ranks a respectable 12th in the NFL. However that stat is somewhat misleading in that The Seahawks have been so soft against the run that teams have not needed to go to the air.

At corner Shawn Springs is a quality corner - not one of the elite perhaps but a solid starter. Opposite Springs 2nd year player Ken Lucas is still learning the ropes and has only 1 career interception to his name. Springs has yet to record an interception this year. Both corners have decent size both being 6 foot 200 pounds but they will be giving away height and weight to the Redskins receivers.

Strong safety Reggie Tongue is perhaps the strong point of the Seattle secondary being active against both pass and run. He has two picks on the season and will match up well against the Skins TEs. At free safety Marcus Robertson is a 12 year veteran who spent most of a productive career with the Oilers/Titans.

Look for Matthews to have another productive day against the Seahawks with the Redskins receivers physically outmatching the Hawks corners.

Kenny Watson vs. Seahawks run defense
By Mark Solway

While Stephen Davis has not been ruled out of Sunday's action completely, there is a very good chance that rookie Kenny Watson will get his first ever NFL start against Seattle. Fortuitously.... it will come against the NFL's 32nd ranked run defense. The Seahawks defense has not been able to stop the run all season allowing the opposing team to rack up 177.1 yards rushing per game and over 5 yards per carry. Compounding the problem for Seattle is the fact that LB Chad Brown is questionable with an ankle injury.

Watson comes in to the game with 150 yards on 29 carries, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. The offensive line put together a strong effort last week and they will have to again this week to help the rookie RB shake any early game jitters. Steve Spurrier's new Fun 'N' Run offense will depend on the Redskins success running the ball early. Watson doesn't have the power that Davis has but he does have quickness. He will need to have patience and allow the line to open holes and then use his quickness to dart into them. The success of the Redskins running attack this year has been between the tackles but look for the Skins to throw in a few more sweeps and pitches this week to take advantage of Watson's quickness and vision as well as Brown's injury. Watson spent more time as a WR than he did as a RB at Penn State.

As a side note, Tre Johnson is one week fitter and one week more experienced in the system. Spurrier said earlier this week that he expected Johnson to see 25-30 offensive plays this game compared to 15 last week. The Seahawks will not even be able to see Watson behind the behemoth guard, so when #77 is on the field, bet on the Redskins running behind him. Is there anything prettier than Tre pulling on a counter trey? Boom... he's on his back.

Advantage: Watson. Expect the Redskins to put up close to 200 yards rushing Sunday.

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