It's the Washington Redskins (3-6) and the equally miserable (3-6) Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at 1 PM, on the day of WWE's annual "Survivor Series" pay-per-view.
That's the nice way of putting this game (Survivor Series). It also could be viewed and billed as PURE, UNADULTERATED "Hell in a Cell" or as I said on the radio the other day, a loser-leave-town steel cage match. The WWE used to do some skit with the Undertaker called a "Buried Alive" match. You can make a fair argument that both of these teams deserve that kind of treatment.
Either way, no-matter what you want to call it -- the winner keeps their faint playoff hopes alive at (4-6) and breaks a multiple game losing streak (Redskins - 3, Eagles - 5) and the loser basically gets to pound sand and give their bitter fan bases more opportunity to fire people that work 100 hours a week.
With that glorious back drop set, we begin our pre-game coverage at 9 AM from FedEx Field with Larry Michael's Redskins Game Plan, featuring John Keim & myself. At 10, the official KIA Motors Pre Game show begins with Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980 & the Washington Redskins Radio Network. Doc Walker, Sonny Jurgensen, Rich Campbell and I will join Kevin live from the stadium. The exclusive play-by-play begins just before 1 PM, Brian Mitchell joins me for half time, and then Al Galdi has the MBUSA Redskins Post Game show featuring exclusive interviews with Robert Griffin III, Mike Shanahan and more players.
Now - we go "Inside the Numbers" Week 11 style as the Redskins play their first of two division games in the next five days.
***RUN, RUN, RUN - The Redskins must run the ball effectively in order to win. With a healthy dose of Robert Griffin III, the Skins ran for 151 yards on 32 carries in the loss against Carolina, but of course the penalties negated a lot of the positives for Washington. Against Pittsburgh, the Redskins only ran for 86 yards on 21 carries. As a result - between the run game being a little less effective, Robert Griffin III being more erratic, the penalties, drops and turnovers -- Washington has only totaled 25 points in the last two games combined.
***The Eagles run defense is middle of the road (112.7 YPG allowed, 15th) and while they haven't allowed a 100-yard individual rushing game (Ray Rice-99 yards -Week 2) they've allowed between 101 (Dallas) and 146 (Atlanta) yards in each of their last five games/losses. The notion that the Redskins will have to throw the ball 40 times, is not realistic. Philadelphia misses tackles on a regular basis (even with an upgraded linebacking corps, featuring DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks). Watching the Cowboys - Eagles game last week, it seemed to me like Felix Jones ran an awful lot of inside zone runs, with some traps & modified draws, exploiting the up-the-field pursuit of the Eagles wide-9 front and attack.
***The Redskins do have seven 150-yard rushing games (most in the NFL) this year - and would be looking for their ninth 100-yard team rushing performance of the year (NFL high). With much due credit and respect to Redskins PR - Washington would be able to match the most 100-yard rushing games in their first ten games, a feat they have done six times since 1970, most recently in 2000.
**TIME TO SCORE MORE - The Redskins totaled (offense & defense) 201 points in their first 7 games (28.7 PPG). In their last two losses, they've totaled just the 25 total points or (12.5 PPG). Overall, their 226 points over nine games, equals (25.1 PPG) so that is a total drop of 3.6 PPG in the last two losses. Of course, a huge part of the problem is as the offense has struggled - so has the defense in terms of generating turnovers and the points that they were feeding, either directly or off-of. While the Redskins defense currently ranks 2nd in the NFC & NFL in defensive touchdowns (4) and they are 5th in the NFC/Tied for 9th in the NFL in take-aways at 16 - the unit has not generated a turnover since having two interceptions in the Giants loss. In the last two losses, they've also had one sack combined. Not a good combo, for this defense which was fueling the Redskins offense in the first 7 weeks. The Redskins have scored 24 points on offensive series that came from turnovers, combined with the 24 points that the defense has directly scored, for a total of 48.
The good news? The Redskins haven't turned the ball over themselves in the last two games, and are a + 7 in turnover ratio (8th in NFL) and take on an Eagles team that is a eye-opening -11 (31st in NFL). They take on a rookie Quarterback in Nick Foles, who played in his first regular season game last week against Dallas. Foles played reasonably well (22-32-219- INT-TD) with the interception accounting for a touchdown return. It was more of a freak bad-bounce type of play, but ball placement is highly important and my recollection is that the pass (slant?) was behind the target, causing a freaky batted ball play.
The bad news? The Redskins as we all know are (0-8, 0-4 since 2009) in their last eight games against a rookie quarterback, and as I mentioned on twitter earlier this week - they are (3-9) against quarterbacks with 1 or 2 years of experience since 2009. Those are the only numbers I really care about (since 2009) because outside of a few defensive players (London Fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander, Kedric Golston, Reed Doughty) nobody that has any significance in Sunday's game, will even be a factor in determining the outcome.
***THIRD DOWNS DOWN - The Redskins have been pathetic in every way on both sides of the ball on third downs. While everybody concentrates on how bad the defense has been, it has to continuously be pointed out that the offense is an awful (32-112, 28.6%) on the year. After improving over the Minnesota and Giants games (12-25 combined), they are right back to levels of hideous proportions in their last two at (6-27). Staying on offense, they are (9-63, 14.3%) on 3rd & 7 + and a stellar (3-40, 7.5%) on 3rd & 10 +. That's more than 1/3 (35.7%) of the Redskins 3rd down opportunities on offense(40/112) coming on 3rd & 10 or longer. NOT GOOD.
Now onto to everybody's favorite game of "pin the tail on the donkey" with Jim Haslett conveniently (not for him) serving as the donkey and a horses rear-end, in 98% of the fan bases mind. The Redskins defense is not good. We all know that. The Redskins are allowing opposing offenses to convert on (49-112) 43.8% of their opportunities. How ironic is it that the offense and defense has faced the SAME EXACT amount of third-down situations as each other. This is not the kind of disparity you want, however. The number of 3rd & 10 + opportunities that the Redskins offense has faced (3-40) is a lot more than what the Redskins defense has forced (7-30), and again the differences are pretty revealing.
***SPECIAL TEAMS HAVEN'T BEEN SPECIAL - In addition to the blocked punts in the first two weeks, and the blocked extra point in Pittsburgh, along with disaster that was Billy Cundiff - it's safe to say that the Redskins have been on life support when it comes to the not-so special teams. Cundiff was perfect in New Orleans (4/4) and did have the GW kick in Tampa, but everything outside of that was a complete debacle. He was replaced by Kai Forbath, who is a perfect (8/8) on field goals since taking over, including (5-5) between (40-49). Sav Rocca has been gutting out his punts with a knee injury, so his numbers have OK, but less than spectacular.
Then there's Brandon Banks. The Redskins rank 29th and 19th, in punt and kickoff return average, respectively, in the NFL this season. Washington is one of 10 teams that has not scored a special teams return touchdown since the start of last season.
Banks is averaging only 6.2 yards per punt return, which ranks 24th in the league, per our ESPN 980 Redskins Insider Rich Campbell of the Washington Times, http://bit.ly/UMCeBQ. Banks is averaging 24.6 YPR on kickoffs, (19-467).