Sunday Six Pack: Eagles at Redskins

The early-season woes continued for some Eagles in Week 3, despite the team stepping up in the absence of many starters to claim the first victory of the season.

With the first one out of the way, maybe a Week 4 divisional game is when the Eagles kick it into gear. Of course, there is a chance this is still only the beginning for the Eagles struggles.

In Washington, the Eagles will look to put the first three games of struggle and the two losses to open the season far behind them. 

Here are today’s six keys to the game. 

Bradford, Again – We’ll be talking about this every week until he puts it all together. Sam Bradford wasn’t at his best again in Week 3. Passes continue to be off-target, overthrown, underthrown, you know the drill by now. Eventually, Bradford has to get it together or someone else will be asked to figure it out instead. And the last thing Eagles fans want to see at this point is another season on the shoulders of Mark Sanchez.

But Really, It’s the O-Line Too – With Andrew Gardner now done for the season, the already struggling offensive line faces an even greater task. Really, it falls more on the play of Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. There is so much more expected out of them, especially Peters and Kelce, that it is almost shocking to see them struggling as much as they are. Throw in the first start for Matt Tobin this season, the game could really be won in how well the offensive line plays. 

Stretching the Field – Three weeks in and we really haven’t seen Bradford go for the big play. This week, that should change. Chip Kelly needs to come up with an effective way to keep the running backs and tight ends involved in the passing game while allowing the receivers to stretch the field and open things up for a big play.

Eagles Secondary: Keep the Momentum Going – Not having DeSean Jackson will help, but the Eagles are coming off their best defensive game of the season, and they still almost let the lead slip late in the game. Still, you have to give the Eagles defense, especially the secondary which is in fact showing signs of improvement, a ton of credit. The Eagles were in all three of the games they have played this season mainly due to the success of the defense. They need to keep that up against an offense that has struggled to protect the ball and is known for turning it over. 

New Kicker – This will also be the first chance to see Caleb Sturgis take the field. How much he is used is certainly still a question. There may not be a hurricane coming through, but wind conditions will certainly not be calm, making for what could be an interesting afternoon. On the bright side, if Sturgis looks good on a day like this, he will probably prove his value as the “backup” kicker. 

In Certain Areas, Repeat Last Week – There’s no question the Eagles have a lot of areas where they can improve. But there are two things from their Week 3 win that are worth repeating in the next game in Washington: no turnovers and time of possession. The Eagles and Jets basically shared the ball in the last. The Eagles time of possession was 28:11. In the previous two weeks, the Eagles total time of possession was 19:35 and 24:33 respectively. Similarly, the Eagles only committed one turnover in last week’s win as compared to five over the first two weeks. Protecting the ball is crucial to the Eagles success because of what it does to time of possession. The Eagles offense runs fast. Opponents try to wear out the defense with long, drawn-out drives. So making sure both sides get as close to equal time on the field as possible should be a goal every week for the Eagles. 

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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