It won't be a pretty game. At least that's the prediction of Washington defensive end Dexter Manley, looking ahead to Sunday's Redskins-Seahawks game in Seattle.
"It'll be a dogfight," said Manley, who earned his reputation by chasing quarterbacks and often catching them. But Manley won't be doing much pass rushing Sunday because the Seahawks are expected to run the football often.
Only the Pittsburgh Steelers have run more this season. Seattle had 56 carries against San Diego last week and 57 against the New York Jets the previous week, winning both games.
The Redskins (2-1) will have strong safety Curtis Jordan, one of their heavy hitters, back for the game. Jordan incurred a thigh bruise in the Dallas game; he played only on short-yardage situations against Philadelphia and not at all against Kansas City. But he is well now and expected to start Sunday. He returns just in time to help stop Seattle's run-oriented offense.
"When a team runs a lot, you have to do a lot more thinking," said Manley. "Against the pass, you can just take off after the quarterback."
Defensive coordinator Larry Peccatiello, who was an assistant with the Seahawks from 1976 to 1980, said the Redskins have prepared themselves to stop the run from the first day of training camp.
"Every week we go out and feel we have to stop the run," he said. "You have to start with a basic defensive philosophy and ours is to control the running game and force the opposition to pass. Seattle does run the ball better than most teams, but I feel we're ready for it. The way you stop the run is to dominate the line of scrimmage."
Statistically, the Redskins are the best in the league against the run, having yielded an average of only 83.7 yards a game. A reason for that dominance is that the Eagles played without Wilbert Montgomery and gained 35 yards on the ground, and the Chiefs threw 46 passes and rushed the ball only 17 times for 33 yards. In the season opener, the Cowboys ran for 183 yards against the Redskins.
"We played a lot of the Kansas City game with the nickel defense," said Peccatiello, referring to the Redskins' alignment with five defensive backs. "Obviously, we won't do much of that against Seattle.
"We'll still run some dogs and blitzes, though. Those types of plays can be just as effective against the run as they are against the pass. The thing to remember, though, is that it affords you the opportunity to make a big play, but it also affords the offense the same luxury."
Seattle's new coach, Chuck Knox, has always believed in a strong running game. He restructured the middle of Seattle's offensive line through trades and drafted Penn State's Curt Warner to help get his point across.
He got center Blair Bush from Cincinnati and guards Robert Pratt and Reggie McKenzie from Baltimore and Buffalo, respectively. Their experience, along with that of quarterback Jim Zorn, have led to Seattle's 2-1 record.
Warner is the top rusher in the American Football Conference with 330 yards and a 5.7 average. "He reminds me a lot of Tony Dorsett," said Peccatiello. "He has good vision and finds the daylight real well. He also sets up his blocks and runs with power. He breaks a lot of tackles.
"Seattle is just a solid football team. Because of their style, they don't rely on a special play to go all the way," Peccatiello added. "They just take the ball and pound it down the field. We're ready for that, though, and as a result, they aren't going to run it for 60 minutes. They'll have to throw it sooner or later, but the thing is their running game opens up the passing. We just have to be ready for everything."
Linebacker Rich Milot was elected Redskins player representative yesterday and safety Ken Coffey was elected as the alternate. Mark Murphy, last year's player representative who played an important role in the contract negotiations, is still a member of the National Football League Players Association's executive committee.