A nice win with a quarterback not completely healthy and against an Eagle team that came to play. The good, bad, and more. Also, their updated playoff situation is listed below.
1. The Defense. Jim Haslett schemed up more pressure on the quarterback than in any game this year. The players also won more matchups than they have in any game this year. Five total sacks with several more hurries. Pressure was a factor all day but most importantly on three key plays. First--the Ryan Kerrigan sack/forced fumble on the final play of the 1st quarter. They were down 7-zip and on the verge of going down more. Second-the 4th and 2 sack at midfield up 20-13 in the 3rd quarter. Again, it was a Kerrigan play pushing the tackle back into Foles for the sack. Third-the final play of the game. Pressure forced the intentional grounding and the 10-second run-off...game over. The two turnovers forced in the first half were huge. I say forced because Kerrigan forced one with the sack and Cofield tipped the ball that Fletcher picked off. By the way, Cofield was very good all day as was Fletcher and Riley.
2. Offensive Playmakers. The Redskins have guys making plays after catches, during catches, and after getting hit. It's as important as anything we've seen during the 6-game win streak. Pierre Garcon makes plays. Joshua Morgan makes plays and was especially effective today. He had an incredible run on a reverse that should've been a loss. His touchdown catch and run was typical of the kinds of plays their receivers are making. Moss's touchdown catch was spectacular. Morris makes plays especially after contact. Royster had a good move on 3rd and short. Niles Paul had a nice catch and run. Attribute it to the scheme, the return of Garcon, or anything you want but the Skins have guys making plays with the ball.
3. Kai Forbath. He's money. 17 for 17 and the new record for most kicks made without a miss to start a career. His two early field goals today were important and gave the Skins some momentum.
4. Kyle Shanahan. He had a quarterback that was clearly less than 100% yet he was able to come up with a gameplan that kept the threat of RG3 as a runner in place without actually running him much. All season long I've felt the talk of him as a runner has been so overrated compared to the biggest benefit which has been the "threat of RG3 running" even when he didn't. There was plenty of pistol and even several read-option plays but he only ran on one read-option. The others were Morris runs or the read-option was used to set up passes. Kyle threw in several wrinkles....two plays stood out. On a completion to Garcon in the first half off the read-option look, Joshua Morgan was in motion than moved into the backfield prior to the snap. They've used that alot on plays where the WR ends up being a decoy on a run play or is used as the pitch back on the option but never on a quick throw off the read-option. The more interesting play was the touchdown run by Morris. That play appeared to be a fake read-option to one side with an old-school counter trey with Trent Williams pulling to the other side. The play broke wide-open for the touchdown.
1. RG3's mobility. It was obvious he wasn't 100% and we saw it early. He seemed uncomfortable on an early read-option run and later on a 4th and 2 bootleg miss.
2. A near-disaster in pass coverage at the end. Madieu Williams did a nice job on a safety blitz but was seemingly out of position (which isn't a first) and very lucky on a pass into the end zone for a wide open Maclin on the final drive.
1. Skins got lucky at the end when #86 dropped a wide-open slant for a touchdown.
2. I think Andy Reid may have gone for 2 and the win if they had scored at the end. He was in a risk-taking mode all day with nothing to lose.
3. The challenge by Shanahan on the RG3 lateral to Moss that lost 17 yards was a bit of a waste.
4. Eagle fans have complained about Reid's clock managment for years and it's easy to see why. He called quick timeouts with still over a minute left in the first half potentially leaving plenty of time for the Skins to score before the end of the half. It didn't hurt him this time but the strategy was wrong.
Skins' Playoff situation:
To Win the NFC East- Beat Dallas. They could also win the NFC East with a tie against Dallas if the Giants lose once. The Skins CAN'T win the NFC East with a loss to Dallas. A 9-7 final record would lose out to either a 10-6 Giants or a 9-7 Cowboys (common opponents).
Wildcard- If they lose to Dallas, they could still qualify for the playoffs as a wildcard but would need 3 of the following 4 things to happen. 1-the Giants to lose once (vs Balt or Philly); 2-the Vikings to lose to the Packers; 3-the Bears to lose once (vs Cards or Lions); 4-Seattle to lose twice (vs SF and STL).
Maybe it's unnecessary angst but the Philly game feels a bit like a trap. The Redskins are the hottest team in the NFC and it was their mid-November blowout of the Eagles that started this run. Philly has lost 9 of 10 and looked at last glance like they had thrown in the season-towel in their 34-13 loss to Cincinnati. Skins fans have already started the "We Want Dallas" chant and Vegas has upped the Skins to a 7-pt favorite on the news that RG3 will likely play.
Nobody is more familiar with playing so-called late-season meaningless games than the Redskins. They've played the "spoiler" role for years. Not always well, but consider this. Last year, they nearly derailed the Giants' playoff hopes with a December win in the Meadowlands. They nearly did the same the year before to the Giants in the final game of the year, a game that was must-win for New York.
No matter how little you're playing for, an NFC East team gets up for NFC East games. And it's this that bothers me more than anything else this Sunday. The Eagles are done but from their perspective, why not take the Redskins with them. Andy Reid's teams are 3-1 vs. the NFC East in late December games that don't matter to the Eagles. And that's the other thing. Andy Reid. This is his last home game and if his team decides to win one for the Gipper, they'll probably try to do it this week in Philly. Add to the "Reid's last home game" spin is the fact that the Eagles have had 11 days off, are getting LeSean McCoy back, and have a rookie quarterback getting comfortable and playing loose as the season winds down. Other than everything mentioned above, at Philly looks easy.
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).
Taking a look at Sunday's (today's) huge matchup in the NFC East that will settle nothing, but go a long way to determining the perception of each team. The Philadelphia Eagles (1-4) are fighting to just have a realistic chance at the playoffs after their bye, while the Washington Redskins (3-1) are simply trying to prove they belong.
Without further delay, here is the Week 6 (Game 5) edition of "Notable, Quotable, Reasonable," our way of previewing a huge game.
**The Eagles and Redskins have split their last 12 games of the head-to-head series, but before that, Philadelphia had won 7-in-a-row. Philly has the 2nd best road record in the NFL since 2000, (58-32-1) and the Birds have become very comforatable at Fed Ex Field, winning 9-out-of-11, and 4-out-of-the-last-5 in front of Redskins Nation.
**Philadelphia's main problem has been turnover differential (tied for worst in NFL @ -10) but they do have the best sack differential in the NFL (2nd-NFL) of + 8. For all of the talk of the Eagles shaky offensive line, it is not a given that you will sack Michael Vick. You might pressure him, and hit him -- but he is still very difficult to sack.
**The Eagles are still pretty good on the money down (3rd) on both sides of the ball. They are converting 44.3% of the time, good for 3rd in the NFC, and 6th in the NFL. More important for the Redskins, Michael Vick has 10 runs for 75 yards, and 6 first downs this year on that key down. Since becoming the starter in 2010, he has 318 rushing yards, on 36 attempts, one TD & a 8.8 yards/carry average. On the other side of the ball, the defense is allowing opponents to convert 38%, but since 1999 -- the Eagles have had the best 3rd Down defense in the NFC (34.7%) and 2nd in the NFL.
**This game will likely come down to 3rd down situations, and if it does -- the Redskins have been terrific on defense. They've only allowed opponents to convert 26% of the time, but the Redskins have only converted 37% of the time.
**The Redskins have outgained their opponents by an average of 60 yards-per-game, and have also only allowed 8 sacks. Rex Grossman must improve his 58% completion percentage, but the silver lining for the Redskins, opponents have only completed 54% of their pass attempts.
Redskins HC Mike Shanahan on Chris Cooley's knee situation
"Monday, there was a little bit of fluid on there and it was a little bit sore yesterday and a little bit sore today (Thursday). [It was] a little bit of a setback... He did have it drained. I'm not sure what day it was."
Redskins OC Kyle Shanahan on if the Eagles’ pressure comes from a four-man pass rush:
“They do it with a four-man [rush]. They have a bunch of good rushers and they have a bunch of them that they keep rolling in there. And it’s the scheme. The scheme is made for getting up the field and it’s tough to go against.”
Kyle Shanahan on the Eagles’ “wide nine” defense:
“It’s real tough. It’s something that I’ve gone against a lot and we played it twice-a-year for years in Tennessee. We played it last year in Detroit. I think it’s a very tough scheme to go against.”
Kyle Shanahan on if he analyzes defenses based on statistics or film:
“It’s pretty much 98 percent off film. We don’t go much off numbers. Usually, the film matches the numbers, but everything you have to take into account. If you just go off numbers, a lot of teams… can look like they are a really bad rush team, but it’s because they have been holding everyone to two-yards-per-carry except for six runs that have all gone for 70 yards. If you have a play like that, it just kills it. You have to look into everything. You can’t just go off the numbers.”
Redskins DC Jim Haslett on linebacker Rocky McIntosh:
“I think he’s playing great this year. I think he really is. He feels comfortable with what we’re doing. He’s tackling well. He’s all over the field. He has a sack. I think Rocky’s into it and he’s done a great job. I don’t know if he’s the least heralded, but he’s playing at a high level.”
Jim Haslett onVick extending plays:
“You have speed on the outside… It’s hard to simulate a guy throwing 70 yards because there are not too many guys that can do it. So unless you have a Jugs machine out there that can launch a ball, corners have to know in the back of their mind that they have to cover longer because 1) he can throw it a lot longer than most guys in the league, and 2) he buys time in the pocket and he runs around. When he launches it, it’s not going to be 55 or 60 yards. It’s going to be 70 or 75 yards. He can throw it that far.”
**It's reasonable to expect both offensive lines will struggle against the pass rush. Jason Babin of the Eagles already has 7 sacks, and had a three-sack effort two weeks ago against San Francisco. Cullen Jenkins, who plays one of the interior DT spots - already has 5 sacks. The difference is the Eagles won't have stud RDE Trent Cole, and DO NOT have any linebackers or defensive backs that strike fear in you as pass-rushers and blitzers. Suffice to say though, because of the 'Wide-Nine' technique that the Eagles employ, Jammal Brown is going to have to really get off on the snap and ride Babin outside, and the interior offensive line of Washington -- is going to have to do a good job combo blocking and scraping the backside attacker on stretch runs.
As for the Redskins front - 7, they should be licking their chops. The defensive line has generated 7-out-of-the-15 sacks the Redskins have, and Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan need to generate as much pressure as they can without Jim Haslett having to send more than 5 rushers. We wrote about a couple of things http://redskins.espn980.com/bloggers/chris-russell/item/229-the-keys-to-a-must-win-game to keep an eye on earlier this week, such as Haslett double-stacking Orakpo and Kerrigan on the same side of the defense, as Pittsburgh likes to do to give offensive units a nightmarish headache. We also mentioned that the Redskins showed a different pressure look several times in St. Louis, with very good results, using the ROLB more in 'space' and shading him (Orakpo/Jackson) to the inside of RDE Stephen Bowen. Maybe Washington does this by flopping the look to the left side. Perhaps, Jim Haslett doesnt' have to get fancy with Todd Herremans likely at LT, after playing RT so far this season and as a long time guard -- and Winston Justice playing RT. Don't forget the Eagles also have two rookies in Jason Kelce at Center, and first round pick -- Danny Watkins at right guard.
** It's reasonable to expect that the Redskins will give up at least one big play, especially with DeAngelo Hall not 100%, Oshiomogho Atogwe still not completely healthy and LaRon Landry only two games back from missing significant time. One big play is understandable, and sometimes you can get away with it (as the Redskins did in Weeks 1 & 2) BUT -- everything else has to be earned by the Eagles. Last year, in Philadelphia -- Washington played a lot of Cover-2 shell looks (both safeties deep back on the hashes) to take away the deep threat -- forcing the Eagles underneath. It worked like a charm, even before Michael Vick went out with an injury. The Redskins have to tackle well in space, and force the Eagles who have 15 turnovers in 5 games, to earn their points on 7 + play drives, increasing the opportunity for a mistake.
**It's reasonable to think that special teams will play an enormous role in this game for both sides. Redskins Punter Sav Rocca, was with the Eagles for the first four years of his career, and now leads the NFL with punts downed inside-the-20. Graham Gano has all the talent in the world, consistency has been the only question. It is expected to be windy at Fed Ex, so it will be interesting to see what effect that has. Brandon Banks said helloooo to the NFL last year in Week 4 against the Eagles, with an electrifying punt return. Special teams coverage needs to be tight (as it was in St. Louis) but legal, as Washington can not take 2 special teams personal foul penalties, and 3 penalties overall in the so-called third phase.
**It's reasonable to think that the tight-ends for the Redskins will have to play a huge role for the Redskins if they are to win. Chris Cooley is expected to play despite his sore knee, he has blocked extremely well -- and matches up well with the Eagles lack of speed, experience and emphasis on the safety and linebacker position. Cooley had a perfectly touchdown in stride down the left seam in Philly last year on third down, and Fred Davis also had a huge play on a Redskins staple throw of play action left, boot right, throwback diagonal left to a usually wide open Davis. The Redskins last executed the play in Week 2 against Arizona for a 40-yard gain, which would have been more if Rex Grossman put a little more mustard on it.
I say this every week - but if the Washington Redskins are truly heading in the right direction (everybody believes they are) and if they are a bona fide playoff contender (jury very much out) -- this Sunday is an absolute must win game.
I have had every game of the four previous as must-wins for completely different reasons, and so far -- so good. The Redskins are (3-1) in my do-or-die warped way of looking at things.
Of course, win or lose on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles - the Redskins 2011 season will go on as planned, nothing will end and nothing will be guaranteed.
That said, this is a golden opportunity. It's not a once in a lifetime deal, but it would be a dagger blow to the Eagles and a monster statement to the rest of the league. Kind of like the one that the really good teams make or the really good up-and-coming teams make.
As a point of comparison, Green Bay won a 'revenge' game in Atlanta on Sunday Night; and Detroit thumped Chicago to both remain undefeated. They took care of business against less desperate teams. Atlanta may have been strongly motivated, but not like the Eagles will be or have to be.
Simply put, the Eagles with a loss drop to (1-5) and would be (0-2) in the NFC East and perhaps more important for tie-breakers sake if they made a remarkable recovery, Philadelphia would be (1-4) in the NFC.
The Redskins would be (4-1) overall, (2-1) in the NFC East and the same (4-1) in conference play - and while they clearly do not stack up talent wise with the New Orleans and Green Bay's of the world (even Detroit) -- certainly they would at least be invited to the same HOA meeting.
OK now that all of that nonsense is out of the way -- here is some basic (and not so basic) concepts the Redskins will have to do on Sunday to win.
After watching the Eagles in chunks over the last few weeks, it is clear that they are a dysfunctional mess. Blame it on Andy Reid, or the players or just bad luck -- they have executed worse then the 'Sisters of the Poor' would against the football version of the 'Bad News Bears.' They are extremely talented, BUT.......
***Michael Vick is easier to control then most people think, and the Redskins are a much better defense compared to Buffalo, San Francisco or last years Redskins unit. I don't give one ounce of credence, and I never have -- to Vick being the most 'exciting' player to watch in the league's history. I simply don't care about exciting. He is dangerous on his feet, in the open field if you don't execute your defense -- not if you do. It is easier said then done, but take for instance the loss against Buffalo. Vick had a 53-yard run off of a play-action roll to his left side, upon making the one read that he wanted - he pulled the ball in and sprinted up the middle of the field with a convoy a foreign dignitary would be jealous of. The problem was, the Bills were in man coverage and turned their backs to defend all the way up the field with their respective assignments. That left one Buffalo defender in the middle of the field, who was easily blockable and Vick exploited it. How do you avoid this? Very simple, if the Redskins play more zone concepts (expected) and keep a survey spy on Vick (expected), they will be able to limit the damage. Teams that try and play man (over the top) and turn their backs to Vick will be exploited. Jim Haslett knows this, everybody knows this. You can't let it happen across the board. The Redskins new and improved defense will not allow a run anywhere near that long in my opinion. In other words, they might give up a big play or two (very likely) but I believe it will be over-the-top and not because of Vick's legs.
**If the Redskins can confuse Vick with different concepts and looks - pre snap movement will be a key -- Vick and more importantly the Eagles offensive line will not be able to consistently hold up. I look for Ryan Kerrigan to have a monster game rushing from Vick's blind side against a right tackle that has struggled consistently. In Washington's last game against St. Louis, they showed a couple of different blitz looks that produced tremendous results. The key was the placement of the ROLB, one time it was Brian Orakpo and once it was Rob Jackson. Both times, the rusher was lined up on the 2nd level of the defense -- but shaded to the inside of RDE Stephen Bowen. It was a non-traditional look, that generated a sack for Bowen in a killer spot (with Orakpo crossing to his outside to confuse the Rams) and an enormous pressure/hit on Sam Bradford by Jackson for an incompletion. The problem was Jackson drove Bradford to the ground, for a personal foul, which was the 100% correct call. Maybe this week, Jim Haslett shows that SAME exact 'look' but flipping it with Kerrigan inside of LDE Adam Carriker in the base defense. Or perhaps, this is the week -- that we see Kerrigan and Orakpo lining up on the same side - a concept the Steelers have used at times with enormous success.
**Turnovers have killed Vick and the Eagles who threw three legitimate interceptions (four total) vs. Buffalo. Obviously any game comes down to controlling your own turnovers and generating as many as you can. Jason Avant had a huge day catching the ball -- but was stripped for a fumble and recovery by Buffalo and then had the final Philadelphia INT go in-and-out of his hands for a back breaking blow to the Eagles comeback hopes. Washington can not count on Vick and the Eagles to be that sloppy, but surely you can expect that they will try and jump some of the staple 'West Coast' routes that Andy Reid likes to dial up, and will be hacking at the ball any chance they get. They must do, it while not forgetting how to tackle correctly. That critical area, feeds into the next point on both sides of the ball.
**If the Redskins can do a good job over-the-top in coverage, Vick is a sack or a turnover waiting to happen. Adam Caplan, a veteran NFL scribe who covers the league, and the Eagles for the PhiladelphiaEagles.com responded to one of my tweets - backing up my point which is that Vick is waiting entirely too long to make his decision in most cases. Caplan said this via twitter, "@Russellmania980: He doesn't throw (when the) WR/TE open, (Vick) waits till they get open, which causes him to take too many hits. Very apparent each week." Obviously the more hits he takes, the greater the opportunity for fumbles or interceptions. Last week in Buffalo, Vick had a ball batted up in the air for an interception on a strangely designed play-action fake, then was crushed blind side -- as he was throwing -- for a George Wilson pick. On another, Vick was hit by a safety pressure head on just after he released the ball, but because he is late making some of his reads - the inside linebacker for the Bills just read Vick's eyes and essentially did what Sean Lee and James Laurinaitis have done to Rex Grossman the last two weeks.
**Of course, the Redskins offense needs to limit their mistakes to no more then 2 turnovers, preferably one. That's easier said then done, but the Redskins need to force the Eagles to tackle them. Philadelphia has been awful all year in this area, and have guys in their secondary that look scared to aggressively put their nose in to a collision. I expect the Redskins to run the ball yes, but to throw a lot of screens, smokes, slants and hitches to put their athletes in space with the Eagles linebackers and defensive backs. If what we have seen over the last few weeks holds up, the Redskins will be able to make plenty of plays.
**The Redskins must execute perfectly on special teams, starting with controlling punt returner DeSean Jackson. Sav Rocca (the former Eagle) has been brilliant so far, and the coverage teams were on target in St. Louis, but had entirely too many penalties (fair or not) and gave the Rams great field position. You CAN NOT do that against the Eagles. Graham Gano must be perfect, in a game where the Redskins will need every point they can get. Brandon Banks had a huge punt return early in the game at Philadelphia last year, which ignited a strong first half -- the Redskins offense could really use a huge boost from the speedy and elusive Banks.
**Some things to watch out for - from an Eagles perspective on offense. They love to take deep shots (as a lot of teams do) on the plus side of the field (opponents half) on first down. This is especially something to watch out for after a Redskins turnover or a huge momentum swing. Also inside the 5-yard line, Philadelphia loves to run a shovel pass to the very dangerous LeSean McCoy.
Much more to come during the week, including "Notable, Quotable, Reasonable" but for now -- put this in your mind as 1 PM comes up on Sunday.