Coming off a loss indescribable because of a load of negative factors against the lowly Oakland Raiders, the Eagles, who hold a 3-2 record and seemingly have a lost identity, will face their first division rival of the season in the Washington Redskins. Fortunately for the Birds, the Redskins are in the midst of an utter collapse, seeing that there have been constant rumors of their head coach–Jim Zorn–being fired, as well as non-stop QB controversy and a ton of questions of the team’s overall character. While the Eagles are looking to keep up with the NFC East-leading Giants with a victory, the ‘Skins are merely attempting to avoid falling deep within their division’s basement. Because of what we witnessed last week (a major upset of the Eagles by a terrible team), there should be no counting out the Washington football team in this matchup, and all in all, tomorrow night’s game should be a contest well-worth watching.
Week 7 Opponent: Washington Redskins
2008 Record: 8-8
Last Meeting Between Teams: Week 16, 2008: PHI-3 WAS-10
Evaluation: Ever since Joe Gibbs departed from the Redskins’ head coaching position following the 2007 season, the Washington organization has been in a downward trend. They began the ‘08 season appearing to be potential postseason contenders, going 6-2 in their first eight games, but in the stretch of the year, they crumbled, falling to a final record of 9-7 and missing the playoffs. In the offseason, there was an immense amount of rumors surrounding the team regarding a possible trade for another Quarterback. This sparked somewhat of an anger in their starting passer–Jason Campbell–but no deal ever surfaced. Nevertheless, they have looked quite awful this season against some lousy opponents. Their first win of this year came in Week 2 against the dismal St. Louis Rams by a score of 9-7, and losses to the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and Kansas City Chiefs followed (those teams combine for a 3-14 record). Against the Eagles, the Redskins will face a tough defensive unit that has allowed very few big plays, and an explosive offense that will strike frequently if executed properly.
MLB Will Witherspoon (PHI) vs. RB Clinton Portis (WAS): Although Jeremiah Trotter remains a situational LB for the Eagles who primarily plays on opponents’ running plays, Witherspoon, who joined the team earlier in the week via a trade with the Rams, will man the majority of the defensive snaps at the Middle Linebacker position. This means that Redskins’ starting RB Clinton Portis, who has always been a threat to the Philly defense, will be mostly occupied by Witherspoon. This should be a good test of whether Witherspoon can adjust to the middle of the LB corps well after little preparation, especially against a runner as talented as Portis.
OG Todd Herremans (PHI) vs. DT Albert Haynesworth (WAS): Haynesworth, Washington’s prized free agent signing of over $100 million, has been a dominant force on the defensive line thus far, and will need to be contained well for the Eagles to have a successful offensive game. Herremans will play in his first game of the season after missing the first five because of surgical rehabilitation on his foot. He has been one of the most consistent lineman for the Birds, but will need to perform very well tomorrow, as he’ll be matched up with Haynesworth throughout the game. This battle of the big men may prove more significant than others, as it may completely support or crush the play of the Eagles’ offense.
CB Asante Samuel (PHI) vs. WR Santana Moss (WAS): Samuel has been around the ball many times this season, and has already notched 4 interceptions. However, he hasn’t been solid while tackling, and will be responsible for covering physical Washington receiver Santana Moss. Of course, it could be argued that Moss isn’t physical because of his 5′10″, 200 lb. frame, but he plays with passion every game, and doesn’t give up. The Redskins have relied on Moss to lift their offense, and he’s already done so this season, catching a winning TD pass versus the Buccaneers in Week 4. Samuel will need to play solid against him to insure that the Philadelphia secondary will have a large part of their duties taken care of.
RB Brian Westbrook (PHI) vs. MLB London Fletcher (WAS): Westbrook gained 50 yards off of only 6 carries last week, and now that the Eagles have seemingly realized that they need to establish a running attack to defeat opponents comfortably on a regular basis, their starting RB should play a big factor vs. Washington and their leader in the middle of the defense, London Fletcher. Playing in his 12th season, Fletcher continues to perform at a high level, and will attempt to contain Westbrook, who, as most know by now, is a weapon on the ground and through the air as a receiver. If the Eagles can get a running strategy going, then this player matchup should be very intriguing.
What to Watch For…
–This season, the Eagles’ defense has allowed their opponents’ Tight Ends to have phenomenal games. This problem has been blamed primarily on poor coverage by the team’s Linebackers, but there are certainly other factors that should be included, such as blown coverage deeper in the field by Safeties or Cornerbacks, but no matter, the issue must be solved. The Redskins have a Pro-Bowler in Chris Cooley, and that makes the Eagles’ lack of Tight End containment even more of a focus in this game. Be sure to keep an eye on Cooley and how the Eagles approach covering him to attempt to end their streak of allowing monstrous performances.
–DE Trent Cole has had at least a half a sack in each of the Eagles’ games this season, and leads the team with 4.5 total. Judging by this statistic and his overall aggressiveness on the defensive front, it is obvious that Cole is perhaps the most dominant of the defenders on the team. Against a struggling offensive unit and a shaky starting QB, the talented Defensive End should have plenty of opportunities at grabbing another sack. When observing the Birds on defense, take some glances in the direction of Cole.
–Although there aren’t any former Eagles on the Redskins’ roster, there are a few interesting player situations to ponder as you watch the game. Backup DT Antonio Dixon, who has become a decent reserve over the past few weeks while being used in a Tackle rotation, was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by Washington, and after they chose to release him, the Eagles signed him. He typically doesn’t see a lot of playing time, but when he is on the field, it should be fun to see how he reacts against his former employer. In another area of intrigue regarding certain players, the brother of Eagles’ RB Brian Westbrook–Byron–will be playing for the Redskins as a backup CB and special teams player. Although he probably won’t be involved in significant plays, there will definitely be a unique sibling rivalry present, and that should be worth noting throughout the contest.
Injury Report (Eagles):
QB Donovan McNabb (fractured rib) Probable
RB Brian Westbrook (twisted ankle) Probable
WR Jeremy Maclin (bruised foot) Probable
WR Kevin Curtis (surgery; sprained knee) Out
OT Jason Peters (knee contusion, ankle sprain) Questionable
OG Todd Herremans (surgery; foot stress fracture) Will Play
OG Max Jean-Gilles (strained shoulder) Questionable
OG Nick Cole (knee pain) Probable
LS Jon Dorenbos (foot pain) Probable
DE Darren Howard (strained calf muscle) Questionable
DE Victor Abiamiri (sprained knee) Out
DT Antonio Dixon (strained hamstring) Probable
DT Brodrick Bunkley (rib contusion) Probable
OLB Akeem Jordan (hip pain) Probable
MLB Omar Gaither (surgery; Lisfranc sprain) Out
MLB Will Witherspoon (gluteus muscle pain) Probable
CB Dimitri Patterson (strained quad muscle) Out
CB Sheldon Brown (abdominal strain) Probable
Projected Team Lineups:
QB Donovan McNabb LDE Juqua Parker
RB Brian Westbrook LDT Mike Patterson
FB Leonard Weaver RDT Brodrick Bunkley
WR Jeremy Maclin RDE Trent Cole
LT Jason Peters WLB Akeem Jordan
LG Todd Herremans MLB Will Witherspoon
C Jamaal Jackson SLB Chris Gocong
RG Nick Cole LCB Asante Samuel
RT Winston Justice FS Macho Harris
TE Brent Celek SS Quintin Mikell
WR DeSean Jackson RCB Sheldon Brown
QB Jason Campbell DE Phillip Daniels
RB Clinton Portis DT Cornelius Griffin
FB Mike Sellers DT Albert Haynesworth
WR Santana Moss DE Andre Carter
LT Stephon Heyer SLB Brian Orakpo
LG Derrick Dockery MLB London Fletcher
C Casey Rabach WLB Rocky McIntosh
RG Chad Rinehart RCB Carlos Rogers
RT Mike Williams FS LaRon Landry
TE Chris Cooley SS Reed Doughty
WR Malcolm Kelly LCB DeAngelo Hall
We are nearing the Eagles’ first division matchup of the season, and no matter how bad you may still feel following last week’s crumble, there is plenty of reason to look forward to the road ahead!
Current: Coming Soon!