The Eagles enter week 4 following a surprising win over the New York Jets. Whilst it was a huge step forward in many areas, it wasn’t as convincing as some people would have liked. The birds will be looking to dominate against a weakened Redskins team, but here are the factors that could be the difference on Sunday.
5: No DeSean Jackson
With four interceptions in three games, Redskins Quarterback needs all the help he can get this Sunday. Especially considering that the Eagles come into this game with the best run defense in the league, Cousins has to make some plays. Unfortunately for him, former Eagles speedster DeSean Jackson is still out with injury and hasn’t practised at all this week. This is a blessing in more than one sense for the Eagles because not only does it take a weapon away for Cousins, but it once again gives the Eagles cornerbacks a lighter week. We saw what Julio did against Maxwell and whilst recent signs of improvement are encouraging, somehow coming up against DeSean Jackson wouldn’t be the easiest thing in the world for a corner who struggled in weeks 1 & 2 to keep the play ahead of him. This is a big advantage for the Eagles.
4: Deep threat
We have already spoken about why this could be the week Sam Bradford finally unleashes some deep passes and if he does it could be an absolute game changer. For a full insight you can read our article here, but to keep it short and sweet..the Eagles finally got the running game going last time out but after a while the Jets adapted. The Eagles were unable to get the short pass going against Dallas because they adapted. Adding that extra element when all cylinders are firing will keep even the most intimidating Defenses guessing, let alone one with a weak secondary.
3: Guess who’s back..kind of
Yet again, DeMarco Murray’s availability for Sunday is said to be a “gametime decision”. However, he has practised fully for the previous two days so signs are encouraging. If Murray does return against the Redskins, he could change the complexion of the game entirely. We saw how dangerous the running game can be if they go back to basics and don’t play to Murrays strengths. If the 2014 rushing leader plays to the teams strengths then we may finally see a glimpse as to how euphoric this three headed monster truly is.
2: Rise of the rookies
Jordan Hicks stole the show last weekend as he was thrust into a game and expected to perform. With Kiko Alonso out for a month and Mychal Kendricks absent, a lot of fans began to fear the worst..that was before Hicks exploded against the Jets Offense alongside Eric Rowe. Another big game from these two is not only going to make life miserable for Cousins and company but further prove the naysayers wrong in showing that this Eagles Defense does have the potential to rank inside the top 10. Whilst Rowe’s ball hawking ability is a constant threat, Jordan Hicks is definitely a playmaker and against a team who have a turnover ratio of -5..he should thrive.
1: Bradfords beginning..
Whilst Sam Bradford can be criticised for not throwing a deep pass against one of the best defenses in the NFL, he can;t be criticised for not committing a single turnover. He now faces a Redskins Defense that has not intercepted a pass all season..surely, if there’s a time for Sam Bradford to emerge and make a point..it’s now. If Bradford can put up over 20 points in the first half against some of the biggest names in the league, on paper he should run rampant against the Redskins. A few touchdown passes and a mix of short & deep throws could see Bradford potentially not just take home the game ball..but be in contention to take NFC Offensive Player Of The Week Honours. We have seen glimpses of brilliance shrouded by uncertainty in all three games so far, it’s time to put all the pieces together.