By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Birds are coming off a thrilling, comeback victory in overtime against the lowly New York Giants. I won’t complain though. At this point, a win is a win.
This week the Eagles travel to Landover, Maryland to play the Redskins in the Bird's home away from home: Fedex Field. My goodness that place is an embarrassment.
My bet is that you will never see the Linc like that. As for the Redskins as a football team, well, they are about as good as their stadium.
Leave it to the Eagles to make them look better than they actually are, though. Even after a big win last week, I simply cannot bring myself to be sold on this team.
That being said, with the Cowboys being just as bad, the Eagles find themselves tied for first place in the woeful NFC East. They kept themselves in it with a win last week, and need to win again on Sunday to make sure they stay right where they are.
Eagles Offense vs. Redskins Defense
My oh my, how things have changed since week one. When the Eagles played Washington in the season opener, Philly’s offense looked so much different. Alshon Jeffery had two touchdowns, DeSean Jackson had two 50-yard scores and Jordan Howard still had a shoulder.
🏥 OUCH! Eagles Injuries on Offense— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) December 13, 2019
🏥 WR DeSean Jackson (IR)
🏥 WR Alshon Jeffery (IR)
🏥 RB Darren Sproles (IR)
🏥 RB Corey Clement (IR)
🏥 RB Jordan Howard
🏥 WR Nelson Agholor@6abc #Eagles pic.twitter.com/g7KLuChlpF
Alas, the Eagles season must continue with whatever troops they can assemble. As it stands right now, with Nelson Agholor not expected to play after not practicing once this week, the Eagles projected receiving core this week will likely look like this: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward Jr., Robert Davis. Sweet merciful heavens.
At running back, things are sort of looking up for the Birds. Even with Jordan Howard still nursing that nagging stinger he suffered (checks notes) six weeks ago, Miles Sanders has really looked good running the ball in his place. I still think that he needs to be getting more touches, both in the run game and the pass game.
Also, there is no one that could convince me that Boston Scott isn’t just a younger clone of Darren Sproles. Fifty years from now, my grandchildren will be asking me: Where were you for the “Boston Scott Game” on Monday Night Football?
This is the best angle on the Boston Scott juke. pic.twitter.com/cZ6HADnTpC— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) December 11, 2019
The Eagles offensive line is also banged up this week, as Lane Johnson has already been announced as out for Sunday’s game. Lucky for them, the Redskins best pass rusher and notorious thorn in the Eagles side Ryan Kerrigan, has already been ruled out for Sunday’s contest.
So, as has been the story of the Eagles 2019 season, a lot is going to fall on the shoulders of quarterback Carson Wentz. If he plays anything like he did in the second half on Monday night, the Eagles will be in good shape.
In order for that to happen, he will need to rely heavily on Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and maybe even some of Josh Perkins. He will also need Doug Pederson to call a game that is the similar, aggressive style that he had in the second half and overtime against the Giants. When Pederson made things simple for the young skill guys, it made it easier for Carson, too.
The Redskins defense is...not terrible? Okay, I wouldn’t say they’re good. That being said, they are certainly better than I had anticipated.
Washington ranks right in the middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed per game, as well as points per game (23.85). Where the Redskins are vulnerable is the run game. They are allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game, an astounding 135 yards per game. If I’ve said it once, I’ve screamed it at my television a million times: run the (fill in the blank) ball. ESPECIALLY with the wide receiver group the Eagles will be trotting out there. That should be enough motivation to keep the ball on the ground. Good lord.
Injury Report: Eagles at Redskins
Eagles Defense vs. Redskins Offense
The Eagles defense rebounded well from a putrid performance in Miami, and played pretty lights out on Monday night. Except for Ronald Darby. What the heck was that Darby? His strength is supposed to be his speed, and he got flamed on two deep routes by a rookie. Don’t even get me started on his awful tackling abilities. Pathetic.
As for the rest of the defense, they showed up. The defensive line dominated the game, and was constantly in the goofy face of Eli Manning. Everything with this defense runs through the defensive line. If they play well, the rest of the defense plays well. If they don’t play well, Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like Dan Marino.
The linebacking unit was once again dominant in the run game and around the line of scrimmage. The defense containing Saquon Barkley the way they did on Monday night had a lot to do with the linebackers. T.J. Edwards, who was filling in for an injured Kamu Grugier-Hill, really impressed me. He was constantly around the football, which is exactly what you want to see from a linebacker.
After a surprisingly quiet season to this point, safety Malcolm Jenkins made his presence felt against the Giants. He was flying around in the secondary and made multiple plays at the line of scrimmage. If the Birds defense wants to make it to January, Jenkins needs to continue to leave his impact on the game.
The defense will be tested again this week. No, not because Washington has a good offense. That could not be any further from the truth. Instead, I think the test for this defense is going to be their focus. They should suffocate this offense with ease if they play the way they’re capable of playing.
The last time these two matched up, the Redskins inexplicably scored 27 points. That cannot happen again. This Eagles offense won’t even sniff 27 points.
The big difference between the week one and this week’s match-up with Washington is the change at the quarterback position. This Sunday, Washington will trot out rookie first-round pick Dwayne Haskins. Haskins has had a rough start to his NFL career, as in seven games played he has just three touchdowns to go along with ten turnovers.
Fun fact sidebar: With Haskins anticipated to start, this means that the Redskins will have started a different quarterback in each of their last five meetings with the Eagles. Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy (who was replaced by Mark! Sanchez! due to injury in that game), Josh Johnson (who is now in the XFL), Case Keenum and now Haskins. Incredible.
To say that this offense is bad would be an insult to the word bad. Washington’s offense is dreadful. They are last in yards per game, at a measly 262 yards per game. They are last in passing yards per game, with just 161 yards per game. They are also last in points per game at a woeful 14.46 points per game.
There was a stretch in the middle of the season where the Redskins didn’t score a touchdown in 16 consecutive quarters. Go ahead, read that again. You didn’t read it wrong.
The Redskins haven’t scored a touchdown in 35 DAYS?! pic.twitter.com/m4i6PdIE8q— Kazeem Famuyide 🍎 (@Kazeem) November 17, 2019
16 consecutive quarters. No touchdowns. That is literally four full games where they didn’t put the ball in the end zone. Not one touchdown, in four games. Honestly, that’s kind of impressive, in a pathetic sort of way. Could you imagine if the Eagles did that? Philadelphia would have Pederson’s head on a stake, and have it paraded down Broad Street.
The Redskins have one playmaker that actually worries me. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin is a speedy receiver who catches everything. He burned Rasul Douglas for a 70-yard touchdown in week one. At the time, no one really thought anything of it, because that happens to Rasul Douglas fairly consistently. But, McLaurin keeps balling out, and has been the lone bright spot of this anemic offense.
Washington’s offensive line is not good. The Eagles defensive line should feast against this unit. I anticipate that the Redskins will have a similar strategy as the Giants did last week: try to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly. Hopefully the Eagles secondary worked on some tackling drills in practice this week (looking at you, Darby).
This is the definition of a trap game for the Eagles. Playing a bad team, on the road, the week before Dallas comes to town to likely determine the division title. Do not be surprised if the Eagles lose this game. Hope for the best, expect the worst.
The Eagles offense comes out strong, and gets the running game going early. They also get the young receivers some early opportunities to make plays to instill some confidence in them. They won’t make the plays, but the opportunity will be there.
The Eagles try to play a ball-control game, and will attempt to chew up clock at every opportunity. Because of that, along with the fact that both offenses stink out loud, this will be a low-scoring game.
The Eagles defense starts off poorly, as it appears that they’ve taken the Redskins for granted. They eventually settle down after their rocky start, and dominate the rest of the game.
The Eagles are physically incapable of dominating an opponent for 60 minutes. This game will be a lot closer than some might expect, but I honestly have no expectations for this Eagles team with the roster they’ll be trotting out there on Sunday. Eagles win an ugly nail biter, 19-16.
Bettor’s note: the over/under for this game is 38.5. That is extremely low. I don’t care, take the under.
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP
Online: NFL Gamepass