The Redskins.com crew breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Seahawks 2017 Week 9 showdown at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
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GET READY FOR A LOUD CROWD
The 12th Man is well-known across the NFL as being one of the loudest fan bases, as Seahawks fans will look to live up to their reputation on Sunday when the Redskins come to town.
Seahawks fans have created issues for any and all visitors since CenturyLink Field first opened in 2002, so the Redskins have to make sure their communication across the offense is sharp.
"That'll be a challenge. You work on the counts and all the stuff, and it's always a great place to play, Seattle," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "Whether you have a 10-year veteran or a one-game player, it's always going to be a challenge. We've just got to get them ready and Kirk [Cousins] has got to do a great job with communicating the snap count and we've got to handle the noise."
Washington's last two road games were in front of two other noisy crowds at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. But quarterback Trent Williams admitted that Seattle "may be even louder than anywhere else."
"We'll be ready for it the best we can," Cousins said. "We understand what we're walking into from that standpoint, and we know we have to communicate very well, verbally and visually, and be ready to go, from the first snap to the last."
Tackle Morgan Moses said that the team has to "get out of the huddle early" so they can gauge the crowd noise and determine potential adjustments before the play clock hits zero.
"We've played in great atmospheres like Kansas City and we handled it well, so for us, it's just pay attention to details and get what we need in practice on this short week and go on to Seattle and get it done," Moses said.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WEEK-LONG PREP
After Washington left Philadelphia last Monday banged up, the Redskins modified their practice schedule last week to give an injured roster an extra day of rest.
But with Trent Williams, Spencer Long, Ty Nsekhe and Brandon Scherff all unable to practice during the week, the Redskins had to make significant changes along the offensive line.
Washington signed Tony Bergstrom and Orlando Franklin in free agency and brought back former Redskins draft pick Arie Kouandjio off the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad.
Both Kouandjio and Bergstrom – who had a limited knowledge of the playbook – played in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, at one point the Redskins' offensive line consisted of Moses along with Kouandjio, Bergstrom and rookie Chase Roullier and Tyler Catalina.
With the starters' status once again in question, the Redskins may have to call on their new and young offensive linemen for another week.
"They're playing together for the first time, really," Gruden said. "T.J. [Clemmings] is doing a good job, he's getting better. Tyler is getting better. Obviously Chase is doing a good job at center. So it's just about communication, playing together, trying to play in unison, which is hard to do at this stage of the season, but I think Coach [Bill] Callahan and Coach [Kevin] Carberry are getting them ready to go."
For the newest signings, they've been spending extra time at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., cramming as much knowledge about the offensive system as possible so that they'll be better prepared in the even they're needed again.
"They haven't had a lot of time to really mingle with the other guys, but I think Coach [Jim] Tomsula met them for the first – 'Hey, how you doing? I'm Jim Tomsula.' That was on game day," Gruden said. "It is what it is and we are not the only team going through this. There's other teams that have had to go through this with injuries at certain positions and that's just the way it is. We have got to adapt and overcome it."
PUT THE HEAT ON WILSON
Nine weeks into the 2017 season, the Redskins have faced a diverse pack of quarterbacks. From Derek Carr to Carson Wentz, the Redskins' defensive line knows how tough young, elusive quarterbacks can be to bring down.
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks.
The Washington front seven might face their toughest task yet when the Redskins head west to meet quarterback/escape artist Russell Wilson.
Coming off a 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans, Wilson and the Seahawks are riding high on a four-game winning streak. Surrounded by few offensive stars, Wilson has been putting on a one-man show in the Emerald City thanks to his unique ability to slip away seconds before the pocket completely collapses.
From there, Wilson's game plan has mostly consisted of outrunning linebackers long enough to gain a few yards with his feet, or heaving the ball up to receivers like Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett for big gains.
"He does a great job, like I said, scrambling, making plays outside the pocket and inside the pocket," Gruden said. "So we've just got to make sure our game plan is tight-knit and then going into it we have success on Sunday."
Wilson, who eclipsed 2,000 passing yards on the season in Week 8, had his best game yet against the Texans, throwing for 452 yards and four touchdowns. Wilson is also 14 yards away from being the team's leading rusher with 194 yards on 36 attempts.
Downfield, Lockett and Baldwin, along with receiver Paul Richardson, give Wilson plenty of reliable options when he fires one of his deep balls, something he does often. Four of Seattle's top five receivers average more than 10 yards a catch.
Linebacker Preston Smith acknowledged that disrupting Wilson will be the key to winning Sunday's matchup.
"He's a fast quarterback and he also has a great arm, so you just got to make sure you don't let him get comfortable and you don't let him get in rhythm," he said.
Breaking Down The Legion Of Boom
Stacked with Pro Bowl-level talent and loads of experience, Seattle's defense is once again proving to be a tough matchup for opposing offenses.
Led by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and the rest of the "Legion of Boom," the Seahawks come into Sunday's game ranked seventh in the NFL in points allowed per game, even after last week's shootout win over the Texans. Prior to last week, the Seattle defense was allowing a stout 15.7 points per game.
One element that makes these Seahawks defenders so hard to prepare for, Gruden argues, is their extensive game planning and ability to read offenses.
"The defensive coordinator [Kris Richard] there is very good. They know exactly where they're supposed to be and how they play the coverages and then what plays hurt those coverages and they know how to guard against them," Gruden said. "Very well coached football team and they have a lot of talent on defense – a lot of speed."
Cousins acknowledged that preparing for the Seahawks presents a unique challenge, partially because of all the noteworthy names. Despite this, he hopes to stick to his game regardless of who is lining up on the other side of the field.
"I think you have to still play out your reads honestly and not necessarily just eliminate a side of the field because of any one player," Cousins said. "I'll try to trust my eyes and trust what I see and make quick decisions, and if that leads me into a great player, then so be it."
This will mark Cousins' second career game against the Seahawks and his first since 2014. In that matchup three years ago, the Michigan State product completed 21 of his 36 passes for 283 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.
A similar performance from Cousins this Sunday would go a long way for an injury-riddled Redskins roster.