Semi-coherent Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins preview


After coming away with comeback victories in each of their first two games, the Philadelphia Eagles are 2-0. Their next opponent is the Washington Redskins which means that, based upon preseason expectations, 3-0 is a realistic possibility.

Then again, the Redskins looked very good last week. Playing against a Jaguars team that gave the Eagles all sorts of trouble in week one, the Redskins dominated from start to finish in a 41-10 romp.

So maybe we should hold off on declaring this one as an easy win.

So wait, maybe the Eagles aren’t that good?

Sep 14, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) runs with the ball as Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) tackles in the second half at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 41-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was great to see the Eagles turn things around in the second half of their game against the Jaguars. But that feat seems a lot less impressive considering that the Redskins were able to dominate the Jaguars from start to finish.

Did the Jaguars simply play above their heads for the first half against the Eagles before crashing back to Earth for the next three halves? Are the Eagles worse than we thought if they can allow a lousy team to look so good for thirty minutes? Or are the Redskins maybe better than most people thought?

The last time they met

When the Redskins visited Lincoln Financial Field in November 2013, the Eagles hadn’t won a home game in over a year. In the previous contest at the stadium, the Eagles had lost to the awful Giants, so it felt like they might never win another home game.

But the 2013 Redskins were the next team to come to town, and they had a habit of improving the fortunes of just about every team they faced.

Nov 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) makes an interception of a Washington Redskins pass during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The game appeared over when the Eagles held a 24-0 lead entering the fourth quarter. That’s when things began to get a bit hairy. The Eagles’ offense couldn’t effectively chew up the clock, and the defense had some breakdowns, allowing two long passes that got the Redskins right back in the game.

As time was winding down, the Eagles’ lead had diminished to eight, and the Redskins were driving towards the end zone. Thankfully, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III took the opportunity to show off his questionable decision-making ability.

Facing pressure, Griffin threw the ball up for grabs in the Eagles end zone, and Brandon Boykin was there to do what he does best: Come up with a game-sealing interception.

What’s new with the Redskins?

The Redskins may once again be a bad team in 2014, but they won’t be an uninteresting one. Because nothing makes a bad team more interesting than a good old-fashioned quarterback controversy!

Would-be franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered an ankle injury last week, and was replaced by backup Kirk Cousins who went on to have a huge game. It isn’t clear how long Griffin will be out, but even if he is able to return soon, a healthy number of Redskins fans would prefer that Cousins keeps the job.

Jul 24, 2014; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy (16), quarterback Robert Griffin III (10), and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) prepare to throw the ball during practice on day two of training camp at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Cousins appeared in five games for the Redskins in 2013, and while he did some good things, he was far from amazing. (Unless, of course, you’re amazed by a 52% completion percentage to go along with four touchdowns and seven interceptions.) He was the starter for the final three games of the season, and the Redskins failed to win any of them.

For some reason, there are people who think that Cousins should have been the starter over the guy who was the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and the guy they traded away four draft picks to obtain.

Listening to DC-area sports talk radio, I’ve learned that Redskins fans are unable to discuss Griffin with any sense of sanity. Some people were so excited by his apparent arrival as a franchise savior in 2012 that they have become unabashed apologists and can’t seem to accept that he might not be as good as they hoped. (It appears that the team’s owner may fall into this category.)

Others fans are not quite as enamored with “RG3.” Some critics believe that Griffin is either too fragile or too reckless in his plays and is doomed to continually suffer injuries. Other critics are worried that he’s already lost some of his excellent running ability, and without that, he’s no longer a dangerous quarterback.

Griffin also takes heat for not being as much of a leader as some would like. After Griffin played a decent, but flawed game in week one, I actually heard a radio host claim that while Griffin’s play may have been good, he was more encouraged by the way that Griffin blamed himself in post-game interviews.

To be honest, many fans were turned off by the way that Griffin seemed to blame everyone but himself for his (and the team’s) troubles in 2013. But as a survivor of the Andy Reid years, I can tell you that while accountability is nice and all, it isn’t ultimately worth too much.

If a player keeps performing poorly, nobody is going to care all that much that he is accountable for his poor play. They’re just going to start looking for someone else who might play better.

Oh, and there’s another fun twist to the quarterback debate: Griffin is an African-American and Cousins is a Caucasian. Do you think that might be shaping some people’s opinion as to which player is the superior option behind center?

Letdown vs. letdown

This has the feel of a classic trap game for the Eagles.

They’re coming off an emotional comeback victory on Monday night and have a short week of preparation. They’ll be facing a team that isn’t highly regarded. They’ll be opposed by a backup quarterback. And the following week, they travel to San Francisco to face a 49ers team most people consider to be a Super Bowl contender.

Kirk Cousins. Image Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On the other hand, the Redskins are facing a dangerous “second game with the backup” situation.

Throughout NFL history, there have been many games where a backup quarterback is brought into the game and plays well. The team will often rally to play well behind the backup, prompting a barrage of “the team won’t miss a beat” talk.

What often ends up happening is that the backup – and the team – turn in a dud performance in their next game. Why does this happen? Sometimes, it’s because the team loses that “rally around the backup” mentality. It’s also possible that the next opponent – given a full week of preparation – are more prepared to handle the substitute.

Long-time Eagles fans may recall the first two games of the 1991 season. After Randall Cunningham suffered a knee injury against the Packers, backup Jim McMahon came in to lead the team to victory. The following week, McMahon and the Eagles were pummeled by the Phoenix Cardinals.

Will Cousins and the Redskins suffer a similar drop-off this week? Or will the Eagles be caught looking ahead to the following week?

The return of DeSean

DeSean Jackson. Image Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, the Eagles released wide receiver DeSean Jackson this past offseason. Most people assumed that he’d sign with either the Redskins or Raiders, and he presumably went with the Redskins just so he could have the opportunity to stick it to his former team twice a season.

He suffered a minor shoulder injury last week, but has said that he’s determined to play. Even though he doesn’t run with his shoulder, I wonder if this will limit his effectiveness. Remember, Jackson was never the type to look for contact, and an injury might make him a bit more gun-shy to venture into the path of a safety.


After two not-so-great games, confidence in Foles has slipped a bit. Aside from the first half of the Jaguars game, he hasn’t been awful, but it feels like the offense isn’t quite clicking, and much of that is on Foles.

It bears mentioning that even though the offense isn’t quite clicking, the Eagles are still leading the NFL in points scored.

Catching up with Andy

Although he’s now been gone for over a season, I’m sure that some Eagles fans still miss former coach Andy Reid. Therefore, every so often, I’ll take a look at what “Big Red” is up to, now that he’s moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The scene: Chiefs general manager John Dorsey enters the office of Andy Reid who is busy working on the next week’s game plan.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Dorsey: Bad news, huh, Coach?

Reid: What’s that?

Dorsey: The news about Jamaal Charles.

Reid: (Stares blankly for a few seconds before he begins to page through one of the binders laid out on his desk in front of him) You said, Jamaal Charles? (Flips through a few more pages) He’s our starting running back.

Dorsey: Yes. He suffered a major injury last week. He’s going to be out for a while.

Reid: (Begins writing notes in the binder) Thanks. I’m updating his file now.

Dorsey: You honestly didn’t remember him getting hurt last week?

Reid: No, I wasn’t paying much attention to the game. People kept telling me I needed to work on my clock management, so I was focusing on that.

Dorsey: How were you focusing on clock management without paying attention to the game?

Reid: I was busy watching the clock. And it seemed to be working correctly, so I think I did a good job of managing it.

Dorsey: So then how did you call in plays or – (sighs) Right, you script out all the plays beforehand.

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Reid: Exactly.

Dorsey: So how are we going to overcome losing Charles? Are you working in some special plays for the backups?

Reid: You know I’m not really a big fan of running the ball, right?

Dorsey: Yes, that has become somewhat apparent.

Reid: Well this happened once in Philadelphia. That pudgy guy we had at running back- You know who I’m talking about, right?

Dorsey: You mean Duce Staley?

Reid: Sure. Well, he got hurt. So then I had a great excuse to not run the ball for the rest of the season, and nobody could get mad at me for it. We didn’t even bother to find a replacement. We just hired some actor who looked like a running back and never gave him the ball.

Dorsey: So should I even bother checking to see if we can bring in any other backs to help out?

Reid: Nah. I wouldn’t.


If Jackson plays, the Redskins will assuredly throw at least a couple of deep balls to him. He might even catch one of them. But I don’t think that will be enough for the Redskins to win.

Cousins might be a good backup, and could conceivably be an adequate Alex Smith-level starter at some point. But the Redskins’ defense will probably have a tough time slowing down the Eagles, and I don’t think Cousins provides enough firepower to keep up.

Eagles 33, Redskins 14