The Eagles are preparing for their seventh game of the season and their final matchup against Washington this year. After coming away from FedEx field with a victory, the Eagles now have home field advantage and a ton of momentum in their corner…but what do they need to do in order to go 2-0 over their divisional rival?
Establishing the run:
The Eagles struggled to get the run game going against the Redskins when they met in week one, but have since put up five consecutive games of 100 yards on the ground or more. The trick to a win here will be looking to extend that streak to six.
LeGarrette Blount was held to just 3.3 yards per carry and 46 yards in the season opener. Since then however, he’s amassed a further 344 yards and his average per carry is up to 5.6. It’s safe to say that the tuning of the offensive line and a physical running style from Blount have developed over that time and began to synchronize perfectly.
The Redskins have allowed 253 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns in their last pair of games, potentially opening the window to a strong outing from an Eagles Offense that has thrived when finding a balance between the run and the pass.
Containing Chris Thompson:
Last week, Thompson may have only rushed for 33 yards, but turned four receptions into 105 yards. Over the last few seasons, one of Philly’s biggest defensive weaknesses has been their ability to cover running backs out of the backfield. Thompson may have 175 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns on the season, but his 340 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns show just how dominant he can be.
Against the Eagles in week one, Thompson amassed just four yards on the ground and 52 through the air. If a slightly banged up Hicks is unable to go come gameday, it will fall on the shoulders of Nigel Bradham and Michael Kendricks to be at their best in coverage situations.
Thompson has thrived in a marginalized Redskins Offense and keeping him under wraps (which involves stopping a tackle breaking touchdown run this time) will be absolutely crucial if the Eagles are to win on Monday Night.
Monday Night Lights:
The Eagles are in a primetime spot for the second week in a row and this time it’s at the Linc. The Eagles are defending their home turf in a matchup that has a tendency to see tempers flare. With six home games remaining, the Birds’ come into this matchup undefeated at home so far this season and of course were 6-2 when playing at the Linc last year. This is a tough spot for Washington, but you simply cannot overlook how much of an advantage the Linc really is.
Lincoln Financial Field has become a fortress over the last 12 months and one that the Eagles have defended valiantly in that timeframe. The environment will be hostile for the visiting Redskins, so look for the Defense to pump up the fight song chants and the offense to thrive off of the energy sent surging around the stadium by the Eagles faithful.
Patrick Robinson, Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas have all been picking off passes with ease this season, and even though Cousins has been a very stable arm…the slightest error could send the Eagles crowd into a cheer so loud it could end up on the Richter scale.
It’s all about the trenches:
The Redskins have a very stern offensive front and much like the Eagles, their pass rushing efforts have to be commended also. Just like the last time they met, this game is going to come down to who can get the most pressure on the opposing quarterback. The good news for Wentz is that he’s used to pressure at this point.
Carson Wentz is officially the most blitzed QB in the NFL coming into this weekend, having been rushed on on 39.3% of his dropbacks. Wentz has thrown 5 TDs & 0 INTs in those instances. Yes, Ryan Kerrigan may have 3.5 sacks on the year and has been a consistent thorn in the side for Philadelphia in recent years, but Wentz has come on leaps and bounds since the first time he faced Washington.
On the other side of things, Derek Barnett is coming off of a game in which he earned his first NFL sack and is of course supporting DE group that consists of Brandon Graham who currently has 4 sacks to his name, an improving Vinny Curry and the unrelenting motor of Chris Long. In the middle, both Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan should compete alongside each other once again with the injury bug having removed its claws, meaning the Eagles pass rush will be at its strongest it has been for a long time.
Two esteemed offensive fronts vs two dangerous defenses. Who wins? There’s only one way to find out…
Punishing a wounded secondary:
The Redskins secondary Is anything but full steam ahead right now. Both Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland have been limited in practice all week while rookie Fabian Moreau has been battling both a shoulder and a hamstring injury. The Eagles passing offense has been nothing short of incredible this season, with a full committee effort taking place. If it’s not Zach Ertz leading the charge, Nelson Agholor’s four touchdown receptions or Torrey Smith’s home run hits have been able to fill void.
This may on the contrary be the game where Alshon Jeffery finally breaks out and leads the team in receiving for the second time this season. 317 yards and 2 touchdowns don’t sound like overly dominant numbers, and that’s because they’re not. But you cannot overlook the impact Jeffery has had on the flourishing of the Eagles Offense. After drawing Josh Norman to his presence all game, the all-pro cornerback could well be either out or less than 100% on Monday Night, giving Alshon Jeffery a chance to dominate a banged up secondary on the road.
Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports