Eagle eye on the enemy: Rematch vs Redskins
23 October 2017 Opinion
We know this enemy and have defeated them once before this season but that does not dictate how this game will go.
This will, as always, be a tough fought division rivalry battle to the end. I expect the score to be close (much like it was week 1). Both teams have had bumps and bruises along the way and proven to be very competitive in the NFC so far.
Last time the teams met they both were at full health entering the season but now there are some distinct differences including the loss of playmakers like Eagles’ Darren Sproles and Redskins’ first-round pick Jonathan Allen.
Carson Wentz has been smart with the ball in his sophomore season. His growth and ability to change protections at the line of scrimmage are impressive. Wentz overthrew Torrey Smith twice during week 1. He does talk about “wanting plays back” and I’m sure those are two he’d like to re-do in this prime time rematch. Smith and Jeffery both came in this offseason and are really starting to develop their chemistry with Wentz. I believe with all the receiving threats available to Wentz vs an injured Redskins secondary gives the Eagles offense an advantage. Sproles did play a large role in week 1’s victory; however, Ertz has already proven himself to be a dynamic “Wentz weapon” to keep the chains moving. I expect to see that continue Monday.
Kirk Cousins is a sneaky running QB. He made plays with his legs several times vs the Eagles and was successful week 1. In this week’s press conference, Jim Schwartz recalled that. I suspect he will have someone spy Cousins at least in the beginning of the game to help keep the Redskins offense off the field and out of sync. Cousins has improved his chemistry with WR Doctson and I suspect he will play more snaps than in previous games this season. Pryor has not lived up to the big WR contract so far but overall, Cousins has been able to elevate the play of this offense with guys like Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson. With strong LB and safety corps, I believe Eagles can reduce those playmakers’ roles in this game.
In week 1, the Eagles offensive line struggled vs the Redskins pass rush. After a week off due to a concussion, Lane Johnson is set to start as well Stefen Wisniewski at LG. I mention Wisniewski because although he has been starting at the position a few weeks, he was not in that position when facing the Redskins earlier this season. The Eagles OL has been highly-praised since the positional adjustment. I expect Wentz to have an easier time at home and better protection on Monday night.
Redskins struggled to protect Kirk Cousins as he was sacked 4 times and hurried into ill-advised throws throughout the game in the season opener. Since then, the team has also gotten much better that keeping Kirk upright but they do have some concerns including a knee injury to their best OT — Trent Williams. According to the Washington Post, Williams is currently holding off on surgery. Williams has not had a full practice since the injury in week 4 vs Chiefs. He does appear to be playing at a high level regardless but with this intel may cause Jim Schwartz to attack more from that side than he normally would have. The team is also without two depth OL for Monday night’s game so with a rotating dominating Eagles DL, I expect the men pressed to protect Cousins to have their work cut out for them.
The rotation on Eagles defensive front has allowed players to stay fresh throughout games. As Jim Schwartz asks four men to rush the quarterback, there is a lot of pressure on them to make plays and so far, they’ve dominated. Setting the edge and eliminating the run game has largely been the success of this defense. Forcing the QBs they face to throw with little time seems to be possible week in and week out thus far. Cox and Jernigan are an excellent tandem on the inside and Graham proved week 1, he can get past the right tackle in order to hit Kirk.
As I mentioned earlier, Allen is out for what may be the remainder of the season. Although a valuable pass rusher for the Redskins defensive front, he has only gotten 1 sack this season. The true test for the Eagles OL will be holding off players like Zach Brown, Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan and Matt Ioannidis. These guys were disruptive in the first matchup. So far this season, the Redskins have 15 sacks. Two of those sacks were verse the weakest Eagles OL we’ve seen this season. With improvements on the Eagles offensive line, Wentz should be able to accomplish what he did week 1 and then some Monday night.
With Norman and Darby out and possibly Breeland, the secondaries of these teams are lacking. However, both teams have proven they can overcome injuries and they have the depth to keep making plays.
Both teams have versatile receiving corps and backfields. The true test will be who can balance out their offense most? With the Eagles playing with home-field advantage, I suspect Pederson will show the Redskins what they did not see week 1, a strong run game and deep-threat plays. If successful, the Redskins will be playing a longer field throughout Monday’s game. Neither team had much luck with running the ball week 1 and Eagles defense is currently ranked first in stopping the run.
I think the Eagles are ready to play again in prime time but this time they get to do it at home. With the Linc being loud and how dominate the Eagles defense has been, I strongly believe the Redskins offense will struggle. Carson and company put on a show the last time they were home vs the Cardinals. Although I do think Monday’s game will be close, I believe a stronger Eagles team, on a bit more rest, will win.