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When Michael Robinson looks at the Washington Redskins, he doesn’t see a team that is mired in a six-game losing streak.
No, the Seahawks’ fullback is focused on the Redskins who won three of their first four games and feature a 3-4 defense that is capable of causing problems in Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field.
“The thing about the Redskins is, you know where they’re going to be,” Robinson said. “We call it, ‘No fair dodging.’ You know where they’re going to be and they pretty much line up and figure that their guys are better than the guys on the other side of the ball.
“They don’t try to trick you or anything like that. It’s a great defense. It’s a great challenge for us.”
That’s not just pregame patter meant to butter up a 3-7 opponent. The Redskins’ offensive players also realize just how good their defense is, and how they have not been holding up their end of the deal as a once-promising season has turned sour.
“In our six-game losing streak, we’ve been behind pretty much from the get-go,” Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman said this week. “Our defense is pretty darn good. If we get them the lead, I think it will just help the flow of the game a lot better.”
Both offenses have been more ebb than flow to start games this season. While the Seahawks have scored 30 first-quarter points, the Redskins have only 16 in the opening quarter. Only the Cleveland Browns (nine) and winless Indianapolis Colts (13) have scored fewer first-quarter points than the Redskins. Only four more teams besides that trio have scored fewer than the Seahawks.
The Seahawks have scored on their opening drive once, and that was a touchdown in the Week 5 upset of the New York Giants. The Redskins’ lone first-drive score came in Week 3 against the Cowboys, on a field goal. The Seahawks’ other first possessions have resulted in eight punts and an interception. The Redskins? Five punts, two interceptions and two fumbles.
So the team that can jump to an early lead on Sunday will be able to play to its strength – defense.
The Seahawks rank 11th in total defense, the Redskins 14th. The Seahawks rank eighth against the run, the Redskins 18th. The Redskins rank 10th against the pass, the Seahawks 15th. The Redskins’ offense ranks 24th, the Seahawks 28th.
The thing that jumps out about the Redskins’ defense is outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo.
“Animals,” Robinson said, and then repeated, “Animals. Those guys are having exceptional years. The defense is having an exceptional year. They’re really really good. We’re going to have to be on point.
“With the versatility of those outside ’backers, they really put the offense in a bind. You don’t want to put a back on them, but they’re too fast for some tackles. It’s just one of those deals where from a game-plan thing you’ve got to manage them.”
The Redskins shared the league lead in sacks entering Week 12 with 31, and Kerrigan (six) and Orakpo (5½) have combined for 11½ of them.
“It seems like they’re always making plays in crucial situations and getting sacks,” Grossman said. “Our defense has played well enough for us to have a 7-3 record, or better.”
The Seahawks have to make sure the Redskins’ defense doesn’t play well enough for them to leave CenturyLink Field with a 4-7 record.
“They’re not difficult to figure out because of their style of play,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “They’re sacking more people than anybody in the league because they know how to attack you.
“So what’s gone on with the schedule has nothing to do with it. This is a one-week championship matchup is what it is. They have all of the good things that you could possibly need to deal with to make it hard on you and so we’re taxed all the way scheme-wise from everything they’re doing.”