Seahawks Talk Redskins, Postseason

On Monday, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander discussed Saturday's divisional playoff matchup against the Washington Redskins, as well as strategy, in-game tendencies, and what a playoff win would mean to the city.

HALFBACK SHAUN ALEXANDER

(What did the Redskins do in the first game to beat Seattle?) “I think they just scored before us. I think it was 14-3 at one time. For them, if you let them score first and let them get a lead, they seem like they play better. If you get a little jump on them then it seems like they are not as aggressive. I think that was the biggest thing, they got to score some points first and they go to get comfortable with their kind of game.”

(Are the Redskins different now from the first time they played?) “The Redskins have always been a great, fighting team. They look really, really the same. But for us, we were 2-1 when we played them, but we were still trying to find our identity. 11 weeks later we are a different ball club. There is a lot of confidence that we have in our own abilities. We have had a lot of 80-yard drives. That is kind of how our offense feels. We can put together stuff at any time. We are really excited about this game.”

(On defenses stepping up this last weekend…) “That is what the playoffs are really about. Your defenses really show up. That’s why defenses win championships because it is one-and-out. I am excited because once again the world is challenging our defense. The last time I felt like they were challenged like this was Philadelphia. I am really excited.”

(On being voted a co-captain for the playoffs…) “It is exciting. Any time there is an award by a teammate it is always cool. It is what it is. I think that when we get ready for these playoff games it is going to be fun to be able to look at the other team’s better players and see what they think. You will get a good look at out looking out of a person’s eyes before the game starts. I like that.”


QUARTERBACK MATT HASSELBECK

(On the Seahawks snapping their playoff losing streak…) “It would be great. It’s not something we’re hung up on. I don’t know if people really even know, on our team, as players. I’m sure some of the coaches are aware of it, or the people who have been in the building for a long time are aware of it. But a lot of our guys are young. They don’t remember, and they don’t really care. What we do care about is this team, this year, and what we can do.”

(How much better is he playing?) “I think it’s more of a product of our offense. Our offense is so much better. We’ve got some weapons, some tools and some things that we like to do that we didn’t necessarily have last year. A guy like Joe Jurevicius and the threat that he brings to our offense we didn’t have last year. Jerramy Stevens is a different player this year. He’s definitely a threat that people are aware of at all times. Then we’ve got some things schematically that our coach staff came up with that has really helped our offense this year. All those things make my job a lot easier. It’s a good thing. It gives us more chances to be successful.”

(Does he has more freedom this year?) “I think, a little bit. But that’s something that’s earned. And also it’s tied into what we feel about our matchups. We have some matchups this year that we didn’t necessarily have last year that our coaching staff feels very good about taking advantage of. And so I’m able to take advantage of those situations a little bit more.”

(How does the Redskins defense compare to the one Seattle saw in Week 4?) “I think they’re improved. I think they understand their schemes better, they disguise better. They’re playing great football. It’s hard to imagine a defense playing better than that defense is playing right now. But at the same time, they have had some injuries and all those kinds of things. At this point in the season, there are some guys playing for them that haven’t played a whole lot this year. It’s a little bit of both. But I think they’re stronger than they were when we played them before.”

(What does Washington do well defensively?) “A lot. They do a lot of things well. They mix it up. They give you a bunch of different things you’ve got to prepare for. They give you exotic looks, things that you have to use both camera angles on your film so you can figure out who is coming and who it not coming. Coverages, they like to do a lot of combination coverages.”

(On them shifting out of their initial defensive set…) “If you take veteran quarterbacks around the league and show a pre-snap look, you say it’s probably this, it’s probably the opposite sometimes. They hold off their disguise. They do a pretty good job. And I think their players are pretty smart. They’ve got some veteran players who are smart. Obviously, Shawn Springs is a veteran guy who route-recognizes well and does things that way.”

(On their third-down defense…) “Third-down-and-real-long situations are never good, and it’s a strength for these guys.”

(On whether the Redskins put nine in the box in the last meeting…) “Yeah, I mean, situational. But, as an example, Tampa Bay was in two backs, two tight ends, one wide receiver. That’s a guaranteed nine in the box or 10 in the box, guaranteed.”

(How were they against the Seahawks in terms of bringing up a safety?) “Well, it depends. We had an empty backfield a couple times and they had six and seven in the box against us. But that was more than we could handle at the time. So it all depends. One of the good things that they do is that they start out in that box, and then sometimes they’ll shift out and play coverage, sometimes they’ll stay in and play a blitz pass defense. Sometimes they’ll play a blitz-run defense.”

(On the lack of receivers in the Oct. 2 meeting…) “That was a tough game. I think we lost Bobby and Darrell in that game both. Our tight end situation was tough. Late in the game, we were scrambling to figure out what personnel groupings we had and what personnel groupings we had lost. It was a physical game. I think it says a lot about the type of defense that they play. They’re a physical defense. They’re going to hit you; they’re going to make you pay. You might catch the ball and get a first down, but they’re going to get a hit on you. We’ve just got to be ready for that kind of a game. I think it’s going to be the same style of game: very physical, and a tough one.”

(On how much confidence they got as an offense after long drives in Washington…) “I think that gave us a lot of confidence, doing that on the road, at their place, a loud, hostile environment. I think the score was 17-10, and we had to go a bunch of yards to tie the game. It turned out not to matter too much. I think that was a stepping stone for us, maybe a little bit of a confidence booster for our team.”

(On the difference in the team now versus in the first meeting…) “I don’t know. I think we were sort of at a crossroads, at 2-2 after that game. We felt like we were pretty good. We had a little bit of confidence in our offense; we made some plays. But we really hadn’t done it yet. So this year has been a good year. We had a bunch of wins in a row after that game. Looking back, I’m not sure anybody would’ve predicted such a good rebound after that game.”

(What were your thoughts having watched the wild-card playoff games?) “If you looked at all the games, you’ve got to say that the home teams didn’t seem to have that much of an advantage this past week and great defense was the key to victory. Will this week’s games be different than last week’s games? Maybe; I don’t know. You’re not talking about a whole lot of games. But still, it was very, very impressive to see Washington’s defensive players and how Gregg Williams had game-planned those guys. They created turnover opportunities and they actually scored a couple touchdowns. It was an impressive game to watch, defensively, as were some of the other games. But this is one of the defenses where, as a quarterback, you say, wow, this is as tough a defense as we’ve played against.”

(On the importance of this game for the city…) “I hope everyone’s excited. You look at some of those games this weekend. Take New England, as an example: huge crowd noise advantage. Obviously, we’re hoping to have that same kind of advantage. Then there are other games, like the Redskins-Tampa Bay game. You couldn’t tell if there were more Tampa fans or more Redskins fans. It was a little ironic. You wouldn’t expect that in that kind of situation. My hope is that Qwest Field is alive, like it has been for us all year, that there’s a lot more blue than whatever-that-color-is and yellow. That would be the hope for me. It’s more of any advantage for our defense. That crowd noise really makes it tough on the opposing offense. It’s really nice not to have to go anywhere and get to play at home.”


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