Here are 10 things to know about the Eagles' Week 6 matchup against the Redskins:
1. Rex Grossman has put up pedestrian numbers through the first four games, completing just 58 percent of his passes and averaging 6.9 yards per attempt. He’s thrown six touchdowns and five interceptions for a QB rating of 78.7. Grossman’s been terrible on third down, completing just 44 percent of his passes and posting a QB rating of 49.0. Remember how earlier in the week I said part of turnovers is just luck? One of Grossman's interceptions against the Rams went right through Santana Moss' hands. Meanwhile, I counted three other passes that Rams defenders had a chance to intercept, but couldn't come up with. Grossman also had a fumbled snap, and Ryan Torain lost the ball on another play, but the Redskins recovered both. Sometimes the ball bounces your way; sometimes it doesn't.
2. Grossman’s favorite target has been veteran Moss. He leads the Redskins in targets (36) and catches (21). He set a career high with 93 catches last year, to go along with 1,115 yards. Jabar Gaffney (remember him, right?), was the team's leading receiver in the Redskins' win over the Rams. He has 25 catches for 238 yards on the season, including four grabs of 20+ yards.
3. The Redskins' best big-play threat might just be tight end Fred Davis. Davis leads the Redskins with 248 receiving yards. He has seven catches of 20+ yards. That’s tied for seventh-most in the NFL with guys like DeSean Jackson, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson. It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles try to match up with him. According to Pro Football Focus, Davis has played 86.7 percent of the team's snaps, compared to 58.4 percent for Chris Cooley.
4. The Redskins rank 14th in sack rate, according to Football Outsiders. Grossman has been sacked eight times on the year, but Washington held the Rams without a sack in its last game. Will the Eagles blitz? In 2010, Grossman completed just 42.5 percent of his passes and averaged 4.68 yards per attempt when blitzed. This year, those numbers are up, according to PFF: 60 percent and 7.5 yards per attempt. But Grossman's has been sacked five times and intercepted three times against the blitz. Against the Rams, he beat the pressure with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Moss as St. Louis sent seven defenders at Grossman in the red zone.
5. When I re-watched their last game, it was clear Much of what the Redskins do offensively is built around running the ball and working in play-action passes. At this point, we're not sure which running back will see the bulk of the action: Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain or Roy Helu. Hightower is banged-up, and his status is unknown. He's been the team's leading rusher (233 yards), but is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. Torain was a beast against the Rams, rushing 19 times for 135 yards (7.1 YPC). He had a pair of runs of 20+ yards. On a 39-yard pickup, the Rams had a chance to bring him down after 6 yards, but Torain broke a tackle and took off until Quintin Mikell finally brought him down. It was hard not to be reminded of Fred Jackson against the Eagles' defense when watching the play. Helu, meanwhile, has 24 attempts for 126 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
6. The Eagles' offensive line faces a test against the Redskins' pass rush. Washington ranks just behind the Birds with 15 sacks on the season (the Eagles have 16). Brian Orakpo leads the way with 3.5; 2.5 of those came against St. Louis as Orakpo was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He easily could have had another sack, but Sam Bradford just got rid of the football. Jason Peters didn't practice yesterday so it could be King Dunlap matching up with Orakpo. Dunlap played very well last week against Buffalo, but this will be a different kind of test.
7. The Redskins are getting good production from first-round pick Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan has two sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and a touchdown. In college, he tied an FBS record with 14 forced fumbles. Orakpo has also forced a pair of fumbles. It will be imperative for Michael Vick to feel the pressure and take care of the football. He has already fumbled seven times this season, having lost three of them. The Redskins also added a pair of veteran defensive linemen in the offseason, grabbing Stephen Bowen from the Cowboys and Barry Cofield from the Giants. Adam Carriker has three sacks. Overall, Washington had seven sacks and 10 QB hits against the Rams. Pressure came from various spots as seven different players hit Bradford.
8. Washington is holding opponents to 4.3 yards per carry, which ranks 19th. Steven Jackson had 46 yards and averaged just 2.6 yards per carry against the Redskins. Kerrigan and Orakpo each made good plays to stuff Jackson. Veteran linebacker Rocky McIntosh was also very active against the run. And the Redskins still have London Fletcher, who turned 36 this offseason.
9. The Redskins got to Bradford with blitzes on multiple occasions. McIntosh came on a delayed blitz and crushed Bradford to force an incompletion. Hard-hitting safety LaRon Landry lined up on the slot receiver and then went after Bradford, forcing an incompletion. According to PFF, Landry has blitzed 15 times in the past two weeks. The Redskins rushed five defenders 31 percent of the time last year, fifth-most in the league, per FO. But only three teams rushed six or more less than the Redskins in 2010. As I mentioned in Mike Check, when opponents are blitzing the Eagles, they are generally doing so with just one extra pass rusher, not all-out blitzes.
10. Washington is limiting opponents to a 73.5 QB rating. The Redskins are allowing just 6.7 yards per attempt and have given up a total of three passing touchdowns. No team has given up fewer. At cornerback, the Redskins go with DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and Kevin Barnes, although Phillip Buchanon could make his season debut.
EXTRA POINT: The Redskins' offense is only slightly better than the Eagles' in the red zone. Washington has converted 46.67 percent of its opportunities into touchdowns (T-18th in the league). The Eagles rank 23rd at 41.67 percent. Defensively, the Redskins have been very good in the red zone, allowing TDs 36.36 percent of the time (4th). The Eagles are dead last (again) at a whopping 78.57 percent.
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