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Need to Know: First thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles—Can the D rattle Wentz?

Oct 12, 2016, 5:10 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 12, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.


Today’s schedule: Practice 1:00; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Lions 11; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 18

First thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—This is the biggest game for the Redskins since, well, their last big game. If they win and the Cowboys lose to the Packers they would be tied for first in the division. Last year their sweep of the Eagles was the key to winning the NFC East. If they want to do that again they likely need at least a split with Philly and defending their home turf would be the best way for the Redskins to get that done.

—Last week the Redskins played the defense that was ranked No. 1 in the Ravens. This week they face the second-ranked defense. In fact, the Eagles are just 11 yards behind the Seahawks for the top spot. The Philadelphia pass rush is fierce; they are one of two teams (Broncos the other) who are scoring sacks on over 10 percent of their opponents’ pass attempts. It would not be surprising if the Redskins had to try to win again with fewer than 20 points on the board.

—The news that Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson’s 10-game PED related suspension will be upheld is not at all surprising. The suspension is effective immediately so he will miss the game on Sunday and the game in Philadelphia in Week 14. They have had plenty of time to plan for his absence. Johnson is arguably their best offensive, however, so there will be a drop off when the substitute either rookie Halapouliavatti Vaitai, a fifth-round pick, or move veteran guard Allen Barbie from guard to right tackle. In the bigger picture, Johnson is their plan for the future at left tackle when Jason Peters retires and since another PED violation (this is his second suspension) will send Johnson to the sideline for multiple seasons there has to be some long-term concern beyond if Vaitai can hold down the job.

—Is five games of tape on Carson Wentz enough for Joe Barry to figure him out? Maybe but that’s only part of the battle. The rookie is calm and cool in the pocket; his football IQ is off the charts. The Redskins have not been very good at rattling rookie QBs this year. Dak Prescott never batted an eye at what the Redskins threw at him and the Browns didn’t lose to Washington because of Cody Kessler coming apart at the seams. Perhaps turning up the head on the pass rush would bother Wentz but so far the Redskins have not shown that they have the ability to do that consistently and Joe Barry seems reluctant to dial up blitzed to make it happen.

—The Eagles are fifth in the league in rushing yards with a true committee approach. Ryan Mathews is the leading rusher with 146 yards followed by three plays, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner, who have between 85 and 100 yards. Wentz is mobile but he has only 35 yards rushing.

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  1. troylok - Oct 12, 2016 at 6:13 AM

    I don’t think Philly has quality depth at corner. Detroit seemed to have a lot of multiple receiver sets. They stacked receivers and overloaded one side of the field. This allowed them to take advantage of Philly’s zone defense.

    On defense, Washington needs to be disciplined and keep everyone in their zone. The team will probably see twenty screen passes in this game so it makes sense to play a little wider on defense. The safeties will get a lot of work.

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  2. redskins12thman - Oct 12, 2016 at 6:16 AM

    Yes, the Redskins defense can rattle Wentz and here’s what they need to do:

    1. Most of the Eagles offense is generated by Wentz, the four RBs mentioned (R. Mathews / Sproles / Smallwood / Barner) and TEs Ertz / Celek / Burton in a balanced attack. These guys cannot be ignored at any point by Redskins D. There must be a player assigned to Wentz and each RB and TE on every play

    2. Mathews and Sproles both run and catch well; Smallwood and Barner run effectively too; RBs do a lot of (delayed) draws effectively so watch for this; even though Wentz only has 35 yards rushing, there are some designed runs for him as well, sometimes clearing out pre-snap the whole side of the field where Wentz will run

    3. There are four athletic WRs (Matthews, Agholor, Huff and Green-Beckham) that are targets. Some of Wentz’s long balls float. I would make Eagles beat us with long throws to WRs, instead of anything to RBs and TEs and short throws to WRs

    For sure, Wentz has a cannon for an arm, but I’m unsure of his accuracy; It’s a risk but one I’m willing to take and won’t blame coaching staff if they try and give up a couple long yardage TDs with Norman / Breeland / Dunbar losing 1-on-1 coverage battles

    4. A lot of Eagles passes are quick releases to within 5-10 yards of LOS, including underneath routes. Need to cover RBs (rush and pass), TEs and all WR crossing routes / screens tightly… anticipate throw to be made to each of them. A bigger test to Fuller and others than the past two games.

    5. As Rich notes, Lane Johnson will be out and either they’ll move Allen Barbre to RT [and insert Stefen Wisniewski or Isaac Seumalo at LG], or they could promote rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai at RT. Either way, Redskins need to attack both LG and RT in the game — hope to continue with some penetration and pressure in the backfield, like we did against Ravens, but look out for running play…

    It would be great to have Breeland (looking better) and Cravens (unsure) back for this game.

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  3. redskins12thman - Oct 12, 2016 at 6:27 AM

    The win in Baltimore was a character win, but this game is huge too.

    This is a home game. We are 1 and 2 at home. We can’t afford to be 1 and 3 at home.

    Moreover, the Redskins could finish 10-6 and easily miss the playoffs if they don’t beat the Eagles and Cowboys because they would be in a very bad position regarding the primary playoff tie-breakers.

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  4. redskins12thman - Oct 12, 2016 at 6:35 AM

    Redskins defense showed improvement in tackling and preventing third down conversions. Can this continue and can they finally have a game where they are effective at stopping the run? These are critical if difficult; their four RBs are illusive; we must contain them.

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  5. Skulb - Oct 12, 2016 at 6:52 AM

    Good defense, but the Redskins have their number. Also, Wentz has had the softest possible start in the NFL. He’ll come down to earth at some point, and with insecurity will come mistakes and a loss of confidence. I love how everyone is hyping the Eagles to death over a three game streak while totally ignoring the Redskins when they go on an identical streak.
    When the Eagles beat the Steelers the Eagles have apparently proved that they are a Superbowl lock. When the Redskins beat the Ravens they have only proved that the Ravens are a horrible team. Coaches never get fired for wetting the bed against the Eagles like Pittsburgh did. When we beat “good” teams it’s like a killing field of fired coaches, benched players and other calamities in our wake. Reality just doesn’t seem to have anything to do with football “analysis” sometimes. We’re bad no matter what we do and the Philly/Dallas/New York are secretly good no matter how poorly they play.

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    • redskins12thman - Oct 12, 2016 at 7:26 AM

      To your point, here is CBS Sports garbage:

      This is a big NFC East game with Dallas off to the fast start. The Philadelphia Eagles are playing consecutive road games, even if this is a short trip. I think that helps. They are the better team. Their defense shuts down the Washington Redskins here.

      Pick: Eagles 30, Redskins 17

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    • Trey Gregory - Oct 12, 2016 at 2:33 PM

      Part of Wentz’s “softest possible start.” Was a blowout of a team at the top of everybody’s power rankings. So, not the softest possible. That team just happened to blow us out too.

      Guys there’s being a fan and then there’s not seeing reality. The way that we won some of these games vs. the way Philly won comes into play. Baltimore beat us. They made more plays to win. They just also made more costly mistakes and so we got the W in the end. The Giants had multiple costly mistakes and were still in a position to get a game winning FG with 2 min left until Eli made the final costly mistake. And we let Cleveland stick around that whole game. With their 3rd string QB. Philly shut them down from the start with their 1st and 2nd string.

      I’m not trying to say Philly is going to the SB, Wentz is the next big thing, or that Philly is even winning the division. But I am saying they look like the better team based off what we know right now and aren’t speculating. And self respecting sports analysts or gambler without a bias would pick Philly as the favorite over Washington right now. It only makes sense. Doesn’t mean Washington won’t win. It’s just where the smart money is.

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      • Skulb - Oct 12, 2016 at 2:49 PM

        The Steelers are erratic. They always have an embarrassing game or two each year. My take is that they completely overlooked the Eagles.
        On the other hand the Eagles are experts at finding flukish wins against elite teams, like last year when they beat the Patriots, before losing at home the next week to the worst team in the NFL.

        There never is any smart money in the NFC East. Any of the teams can win it, usually because they’re all bad. The Eagles might go 3-13. It wouldn’t surprise me.

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      • redskins12thman - Oct 13, 2016 at 1:32 AM

        The Redskins defense that played the Ravens needs to show up, but I do think the Eagles are exploitable on offense and defense. We just need to minimize the mistakes and execute; hopefully with home field support, we pull out a victory.

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        • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 2:11 AM

          I do like that we get first crack at home. I also have a rule of thumb about NFL teams not truly taking shape into who they’re are until sometime around weeks 4-6. Week 6 is a little on the late side. But I keep trying to convince myself that Cousins will settle down and play better as the season goes. This would be a good week to start. If it doesn’t happen by week 7 then I’ll have to stop with my hopeful optimism.

          We can kid ourselves all we want, but this game really comes down to which QB plays better. If Clousins returns to last year’s form then I like our chances A LOT. But If Wentz plays like he did weeks 1-3 and Cousins plays like he has then….eek.

          Each team’s defenses might be able to keep it close but it’s going to take a good showing from the QBs to put it away.

    • greed - Oct 12, 2016 at 3:28 PM

      great post !

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    • COSSkinsFan - Oct 12, 2016 at 8:58 PM

      Hopefully Wentz comes down to earth this week. It appears our qb is more erratic than Wentz. We all know that rookie season success as a qb does not mean long term success. It’s frustrating how the skins get no respect. People can say what they want but we have won the division 2 of the last 4 years.

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  6. sidepull - Oct 12, 2016 at 7:11 AM

    All three units have not put it together yet. When they do, some unfortunate team will be the victim. This week would be a good week to pull that out of the bag. They have it in them, Hope Kelley gets a fair shot at RB.

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  7. colorofmyskinz - Oct 12, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    This is a must Win. I do not want to split games with them. We already lost to Dallas and we cannot afford to lose to the other top NFC EAST team. We need to win both Eagles games and split Dallas. This game is a must Win to put us clearly in the hunt. If we win this and then beat the Lions then we clearly place the Eagle out of the way and put them in the desperate position (because we and most NFC teams will beat the lions).

    We need to put our boots on their throats and not pull up. MUST WIN.

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    • bangkokben - Oct 12, 2016 at 7:34 AM

      No game is a must win and every game is a must win. It’s the NFL.

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      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 12, 2016 at 8:19 AM

        Some games are more must win than other must win games.

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  8. sidepull - Oct 12, 2016 at 8:06 AM

    Can the real Preston Smith show up big? If not take a seat. Murphy is going to get to Wentz. Pancake him Baker.
    And Norman, Dunbar, Fuller, Toler, somebody take it to the house. I need to see a pick six in this game that is not thrown by Cuz.

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    • Trey Gregory - Oct 12, 2016 at 12:48 PM


      Add Hood to the list of guys who will get home. If he’s allowed to play DE. Ioannidis became so important after last game. Not because he’s so good, but because of what he allows Hood and Baker to do.

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      • COSSkinsFan - Oct 12, 2016 at 9:01 PM

        Hood at de is solid, still wish we would sign Knighton or Taylor. Hopefully Ioannidis progresses quickly. We can’t get lucky all year with teams abandoning the run against us. We need to stop the run.

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        • renhoekk2 - Oct 12, 2016 at 10:04 PM

          They will sign a DL when they finally give up on Doctson playing.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 1:27 AM

          Ahhhh that shouldn’t be the reason though! There are other guys we could do without. Sudfield for example. Or Ross. Maybe Lanier if they’re never planning on giving him any snaps.

          I want our young talent on the team. Right now we have Breeland, Cravens, and Doctson out. Those are 3 really talented young players who can make a difference for us. I would rather hold them inactive on the 53 for a couple weeks and get them reps as soon as their ready than put them on IR and maybe, or maybe not, bring one back in 8 weeks.

          I like Jenkins. Really I think he helps in the limited snaps he gets. But signing a true nose may render him irrelevant. Hood, Baker, RJF, Lanier, Murphy, and even Ioannidis can all play DE in a pinch. I And having a true nose would free up Hood for more snaps at DE. Clearly Jenkins is not in the long term plans and it shouldn’t be an issue to release him. But all the other guys I named could be on this team for at least a couple more years if we want. As could Pot Roast and Taylor if they prove their worth. We need guys to play where they can make the most impact. This is really getting ridiculous.

  9. renhoekk2 - Oct 12, 2016 at 10:00 PM

    I’ve seen all of the Eagles games so far. It’s obvious that Wentz is one of those players who the game happens in slow motion for. Not that he’s quite at the same level skill, but just from a way he moves around the pocket and reacts to things he reminds me of Aaron Rogers. Very relaxed and comfortable with what is happening on the field. I don’t see Wentz getting rattled, Doesn’t mean he won’t make any mistakes, just that it won’t come from running around confused.

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  10. wncskinsfan - Oct 13, 2016 at 12:31 AM

    hmmm Redskins pass rush suspect, not enough blitzes called, maybe not enough talent to do that . . . hot garbage for a run defense, maybe the safeties show up? . . . i think the Iggles eat Joe Berrys’ lunch. Maybe Norman or somebody comes up big for us. that would be magic. Maybe our offense steps up . . . Cousins actually hits Jackson, the run game gets going and keeps going enabling our QB to do what he does well, play action. Gonna be a nice test of our O Line. hmmmm, our ST unit is solid if not getting quite good, that could be a game maker, but again, requires some magic. i think it will require magic to win this game. Not prepared to call the Eagles a juggernaut, but there strengths match up well (for them) against our weaknesses. I smell a lot of injuries. And missed opps in the red zone. Not sure we can win this one, but either way, I think it wont be pretty, and is gonna have a high cost.

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    • Trey Gregory - Oct 13, 2016 at 1:32 AM

      Definitely don’t have the talent to blitz a lot. We will send the house and Wentz will throw to the single coverage before they have a chance to get home. This is a bend-but-don’t-break defense. People will get a bunch of yards on us but it’s all about trying to limit them to field goals, force a couple punts, and get a turnover or two. But that only works if the offense is scoring. We have to get at least 3 on most drives and punt less than they do. That’s the formula all year. It won’t get much better if any. So blitzing doesn’t really fit the formula. Because we want to keep the ball in front of us to not give up the big play then crank down in the Redzone when things are tighter. Everything goes out the window if theybstart scoring from 40 yards out.

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