Changing of the Guard
Let’s be honest we didn’t see this coming…at all. In the last two weeks leading up to Sunday’s game we have been painfully reminded over and over again that the Eagles drubbed the Skins 59-28 last time they met on Monday Night Football. But nobody and I mean NOBODY (the above Eagle fan included) saw Sunday’s match-up with Philly Shaping up like this.
The Redskins are 3-1 and sitting pretty on top of the NFC East, and for the most part healthy coming off the bye week (Chris Cooley had his ailing knee drained again and is uncertain for Sunday’s game).
Philadelphiaon the other hand is a beaten and broken team entering Sunday’s game. Starting left Tackle Jason Peters has all but been ruled out again with his hamstring injury and yesterday 2nd string left tackle King Dunlap missed practice with back spasms. Defensive End Trent Cole has not practiced this week with his calf still bothering him and DT Cullen Jenkins (who many thought was on his way to Washington this off-season) Missed Wednesday practice altogether and was limited during Thursday.
In a game where Philadelphia virtually has to win to keep there season alive and miss total collapse, these injuries are the last thing they need.
A loss to the Redskins virtually ensures that the “Dream” season for Philly can be ruled a nightmare. Since 1990 out of the 100 teams who have made the playoffs, only 5 of them have started 1-4 and made the post season. None of those 5 teams started 0-5. Zero…ever.
Truthfully it is very early in the season and and there is a chance Philly turns this thing around. But the fact is the Eagles are 3 losses away from post season elimination, and the biggest disappointment of a season I have ever seen. Sunday, the Redskins have a rare opportunity to step on the throat of a division rival and turn the East into a three team race.
We know the Skins have not been the best team in the East for the better part of 20 years. In fact if they can beat Philly on Sunday it will be the first time since 1999 that the Redskins have been first in the division this late into the season.
Since 1991 the Redskins have visited the playoffs a grand total of 3 times (‘99, ‘05, and ‘07). In 05 and 07 they got in winning games late in the season and never had the division in hand. Sadly we have not seen a New England or Indianapolis like season in the last few years, with the Skins battling for a division early and letting players rest late in the year.
Philly on the other hand has been the most dominant team in the East winning the division six times since 2000. After last years NFC East Championship season expectations in Philly were as high as they could be but so far it’s just not been the case.
A lot of people questioned promoting an Offensive Line Coach into a Defensive Coordinator, but Andy Reid typically gets a pass on moves that seem nuts do to his winning track record.
Sadly for Andy that hasn’t quite worked out.
This Eagle defense is not very good. Even after signing big time Free Agents like Cullen Jenkins and Nnamdi Asomugha, the 15th ranked overall Defense has definitely left people worried.
Philadelphia’s inability to stop the run has earned them the 30th ranked run defense in the league, but that is just one of there problems. The offensive line is also pretty bad, Mike Vick though he loves to scramble has literally been running for his life and forcing passes leading to turnovers in bunches. Vick threw 3 interceptions in last week’s game alone.
I expect Jim Haslett to dial it up early and often for this one. Philly has not seen a pass rush like the Redskins have with guys like Orakpo, Kerrigan and Landry. You have to imagine that those three are going to be an absolute nightmare for Vick.
Don’t let the stats and standing lie to you though, this Philly team is DANGEROUS. They have the fastest team in the league and are explosive at every offensive skill position.
Everyone knows Vick can destroy a defense (like he did to us last year), but I don’t think that LeSean McCoy gets the credit he deserves. Mike Shanahan said earlier this week that he thinks McCoy is the arguably the best back in the NFL (mentioning you have to argue Adrian Peterson as well), and McCoy just may be.
The guy is one of the most complete runners in the league not just because of his speed and elusiveness, but because of his vision. The guy just finds ways to rip off big runs and stopping him is going to be crucial to a Redskins Victory.
For the Redskins this week marks the 2nd time the Skins have faced a sub 30th ranked rushing defense. Two weeks ago Ryan Torain put on a clinic against the Rams, given his solid number against Philly in last years early match up, he is primed to make a big impact on Sunday. Expect the Skins to establish the run early setting up play action throughout the game.
Don’t kid yourselves Eagle fans (and Redskins fans for that matter), Sunday is a HUGE game. For the Redskins it represents finally getting over the hump they have been climbing since 1999 and to take control of the NFC East and gain momentum as they come off the bye.
For Philly this game is everything. With the noose already tightening around Andy Reid’s neck this game is going to go along way in determining what his future in Philadelphia even is.
Six weeks into the season who would have guessed that things would have played out this way? I know I didn’t and as a Redskins fan you have to be excited that they have.