Despite the amount of turnover that normally happens on NFL rosters, many of the same key players are present in the rematch with the Redskins, including both head coaches. There are reasons to expect a similar game to that one, but first let’s look at what different:
John Hall was their placekicker. It is now Shaun Suisham. Hall was very limited in long range, and did not make a kick over 50 yards all season in 2005. Suisham is a huge part of the Skins offense, and while he’s attempted only two kicks over 50 yards this year, we no longer have a significant advantage in the kicking game.
Mark Brunell out. Todd Collins in.
Taylor Jacobs was their #2 WR in that game. I believe James Thrash was injured. They now have a significant threat opposite Moss in Antwaan Randle El.
No Sean Taylor. He led them in tackles with seven, and was an intimidating force in the secondary. They now rely on Reed Doughty to play the FS spot. Doughty is an unproven player.
Lemar Marshall and LaVar Arrington were starting LBs (although I thought Arrington was in the dog house that year and may not have started). A big part of the Skins defense has been the addition of London Fletcher and Randall Godfrey at LB, especially Fletcher. The Skins were undisciplined at the LB spot last time. No longer.
Ryan Clark was the other starting safety. That spot now belongs to LaRon Landry. Landry was the sixth pick in the draft, and had what appeared to be an outstanding rookie season with 95 tackles.
Carlos Rogers was opposite Springs at CB. He is out for the season with an injury, so I believe Fred Smoot is the starter.
I believe there are differences on the offensive line, but I don’t see a simple way to track down the ones who left. Pete Kendall, former Seahawk, is new at LG. Jason Fabini is new at RG and Stephon Heyer is a rookie at RT. Heyer was an undrafted free agent. Expect the Hawks to focus on him and force the Skins to leave a back in to help.
Anthony Montgomery is the other starting DT next to Griffin. He is a third year player.
Andre Carter is opposite Daniels at DE, and has 11 sacks this year.
Daniels had 8 sacks in 2005, but has only 3 in each of the past two years.
We all expect Mo Morris to play a big role instead of being thrust into a situation where he was subbing for the injured MVP in a critical game.
There will be no Mack Strong to rumble 32 yards on a critical third down in the 4th quarter, but we have a player in Leonard Weaver that provides a much greater threat.
Instead of prepping for Joe J, D-Jack and J Stevens, they are looking at Branch, Burleson, Hackett and Pollard. D-Jack had 9 catches for 143 yards in that game. No other receiver had more than 2 catches. The Skins will not be able to focus their attention that way in this game.
Jimmy Williams is not returning punts. Thank…freakin’…goodness! Williams combined an amazing ability to get 3 yards on a punt return with THREE fumbles in that game. In case you don’t remember, we lost the turnover battle 3-to-1 thanks to Williams. Williams’ official line was 4 punt returns for -1 yards. Are you ready for Nate the Great?
Similar thing on kick returns where we had the zero threat in Josh Scobey-Doo.
Tom Rouen was our punter, and that might have been better considering the way Plack has punted this year.
The defense’s transformation is well chronicled. No Marquand Manuel, Michael Boulware, Andre Dyson, Kelly Burndon, Chuck Darby, Marcus Tubbs, Grant Wistrom, DD Lewis, or Bryce Fisher. Fisher had a big game with 8 tackles and a sack. Tatupu and Hill were monsters with 10 and 9 tackles, respectively.
The changes on the Seahawks defense–almost all for the better–is by far the biggest difference in this rematch. Even though we clearly have better talent, that defense was playing it’s best at the time, especially against the run where they were allowing only ~50 yards/game in the last seven before the playoffs.
Many key players are the same, including Hasselbeck, Moss, Cooley, Walter Jones, Springs and Clinton Portis. You could say Alexander is the same, but he’s not what he was in 2005, as we all know.