THERE’S a lot riding on this game. Right now the Eagles have the best record in the sport. We’re running away with not only the division, but the entire conference. The cherry on top? This could be our first sweep of the Redskins, since 2013. The great thing about being an underdog is that, all the pressure to perform is on the favorite. Fellow Eagles fans, that pressure is ours now, and we want that pressure.
There may be talk that the ‘skins are more desperate. They are not. There may be talk that they need this game more. They do not. If we were to lose, then all of our rivals would breathe a sigh of relief, and wake up Tuesday feeling as if they still had a shot at our division. And that, we cannot take. This game will be hard-fought. Too much is at stake for either team to stand quietly aside.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Redskins :
1) Ertz so good: In our last meeting, TE Zach Ertz torched the ‘skins for 93 yards on 8 catches. They do an absolutely horrible job of covering TE’s because their 3-4 defense, sacrifices coverage for pass rush. With that sort of built-in deficiency, Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich, should have a great platform on which to base our passing attack.
2) Cover Two Robber: Alternate base Cover Two with some Cover Two Robber.
Prior to the snap, Robber coverage looks just like base coverage. On long downs, QB Kirk Cousins would need to hold the ball longer, to make sure the middle was truly safe to throw into. The longer we can make him hold the ball, the more likely our pass rush can sack him, or tip his passes.
3) Tick-tock, Tick-tock: LT Trent Williams isn’t at full strength due to a knee injury a couple weeks back. However, like a true pro, he’s playing through it. Totally respectable. Completely commendable. Humiliate him. Make his teammates see him as a liability, by running some overload blitzes on his side, since he can’t adjust as quickly now. Force Cousins to rush his passes, when he hears phantom footsteps.
4) Run the rock: This is less to challenge Washington’s 8th ranked run defense, and more to set up play-action for later in the game. Last time against them, we came out firing deep. This time we should save that for after the half, either to seize momentum or strangle any remaining hope that they managed to muster in the locker room.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
The ‘skins are the NFL’s #10 rushing team, but that has more to do with volume of carries, than any real success running the ball. Rookie RB Samaje Perine runs with all the elusiveness of Winston Churchill, and RB Rob Kelley is always injured. So they scare no one.
To compensate, the Redskins will try to use RB Chris Thompson to cause misalignments and mismatches. Every game in which Thompson has amassed 100 yards from scrimmage, the ‘skins have won. In every game where he didn’t, they’ve lost.
Our defensive scheme kept Thompson corralled well enough before, even without having to make special preparations. It’s safe to assume that it would do so again. No need to even make it one of the Four Things.
Though Washington comes into Philly with both of their top CB’s on the injury report, I get the impression that they aren’t nearly so wounded as we’ve been led to believe. They may want to bait us into throwing deep against them early. Deep passes give them time to get to QB Carson Wentz, and keep higher percentage passes out of Ertz’s hands.
The last time we faced the skins we averaged 2.4 yards per run, because we hadn’t shuffled the line yet. Much has changed in six weeks, so expect Head Coach Doug Pederson to lean on RB LeGarrette Blount, especially early. When the ‘skins start to load the box, look for play-action to seal the deal. Watch this one while holding your brooms.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 28 – Redskins 19