Here is what we will be watching during Monday night's Eagles-Redskins game:
1. Walk, don’t run. The last time the Eagles faced the Redskins, they were having major issues with their run defense. The Redskins gashed them for 57 rushing yards on their first 2 possessions and finished with 169 yards on 35 carries. Since then, though, the Eagles have been stout vs. the run. They’ve held their last 4 opponents to 69 rushing yards per game and a paltry 3.2 yards per carry.
2. The Vick-Jackson connection. DeSean Jackson has been much more of an offensive factor with Michael Vick at quarterback than Kevin Kolb. Vick’s ability to extend plays with his feet, which has been essential given the instability of the offensive line, has afforded Jackson the opportunity to use double moves on defenders. Jackson’s got 8 catches of 25 yards or more, and 7 of them have been thrown by Vick. In the 15 quarters he’s been on the field with Vick, Jackson has 21 catches, 3 TDs and a 20.6 yards-per-catch average. In 13 quarters with Kolb: 5-1-14.2.
3. Limiting the charity. The Redskins have given up a ton of yards this season. They are 31st in total defense and 28th in first downs allowed. But they have been adept at forcing turnovers. They are tied for the league lead in takeaways with 19, including a league-best 10 fumble recoveries. A year ago, they forced 17 turnovers the entire season. But the Eagles have been very good at ball security this season. Their 9 giveaways are the second fewest in the league.
4. Early wake-up call. In their Week 4 win, The Redskins ambushed the Eagles defense early, scoring on its first 3 possessession and forcing the Eagles to play catch-up. The ‘Skins ran the ball on 9 of their first 11 plays in that game and averaged 8.0 yards per play on those first 3 possessions, just 3.3 the rest of the game.
5. Third-down defense. The Redskins are 31st in third-down offense, converting just 23.8 percent of their third-down chances. But they converted 5 of 11 against the Eagles in Week 4. McNabb’s 31-yard TD pass to Chris Cooley came on a third-and-5. His 57-yard completion to Anthony Armstrong came on a third-and-15. McNabb also had 2 third-down runs for first downs. And a pair of Eagles penalties on third down also kept Redskin drives alive. The Eagles, who are 20th in third-down defense, need to be able to get off the field tonight.
To read our earlier posts, click here.