It feels like forever since the Eagles and Redskins played on Monday Night Football to open the season, doesn’t it? It generated a ton of excitement. We saw just how high-powered the offense could be and the first half defense led us to believe that maybe the unit wasn’t as bad as we had originally expected.
Since that time, there has been plenty of changes. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. We saw the offense deliver at a high-level, but we also saw them fizzle at times. We have seen a change in the quarterback position from the guy who was the clear cut starter out of Training Camp to a guy who could be the potential quarterback of the future. We saw the defense snap back to reality and then saw them make a ton of improvements.
Regardless of what has happened, it’s Week 11 and we have to live in the present. Come Sunday, the Eagles have a chance to move into sole possession of first place with a victory. With six games remaining, they control their playoff destiny. The journey to the playoffs starts at the Linc on Sunday against the Redskins, and here are three keys for the Eagles to get one step closer to the postseason.
1. Slow down the real RGIII
When the Eagles faced Robert Griffin III in the opener, it was clear that he wasn’t himself. He didn’t have his usual mobility and the Eagles were able to take advantage of that. You can’t hold that against them, but this time around things will be different. A lot of time has passed since that game and RGIII looks much more like the quarterback you’d expect to see.
After a beat down against the Broncos three weeks ago (we know what that’s like), RGIII has been putting up solid numbers. In this last two games, he has completed over 65% of his passes, throwing for 572 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also added 61 yards on the ground.
The Eagles had trouble in containing an athletic Terrelle Pryor and RGIII has just as much speed and mobility as the Oakland quarterback. Mychal Kendricks has the speed to contain a mobile quarterback, but his status is still up in the air and it’s hard to say he’ll have the same speed coming off a knee injury if he is in the lineup.
Although RGIII is a very talented passer, the Eagles will want to force them to beat them with his arm and limit what he can do on the ground. They will need to keep him in the pocket and get better pressure then they’ve done throughout the course of the season.
2. Balanced offensive attack
The Redskins defense is giving up 31.9 points per games which is second worst in the NFL to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. They’re allowing over 110 yards on the ground which ranks 18th in the league and almost 275 yards through the air which ranks them 26th.
The Eagles rank in the top 10 in both rushing (1st) and passing (9th). Come Sunday, they’ll need to hit the Redskins with a strong balance of both. We’ve seen how well Nick Foles can distribute the football in the last two weeks and we also saw a return of LeSean McCoy and the run game. Both Foles and McCoy will need to have strong outings and both should be a strong fantasy football play.
It’s all going to have to start with Foles. He’ll need to hit the Redskins defense with a pass when they’re expecting run and be able to get them to bite on the play fake and throw the ball when they’re thinking run. He’s done a great job in fooling the defense since returning as the starter and will need to continue that trend this weekend. The Eagles offense will need to be able to put up numbers through the air and on the ground so the Redskins have no chance in focusing in on one or the other.
3. Get a lead and ride the home crowd momentum
The Eagles haven’t won a game at home since Donovan McNabb was the quarterback. Ok, maybe my math is wrong but it sure feels that way. Season ticket holders (like me) and the entire Eagles fan base are sick and tired of seeing the Eagles drop games at home. They deserve better and the Eagles need to end the streak.
With the momentum the Eagles are currently riding, the fans are read to see the Eagles perform. There’s no denying that fans are upset with how the Birds have played at home but we all know that the fans have short memories. If the Eagles can get out to an early start and connect on some big plays, the fans will be right behind them. However, you know that every fan walking into that building knows how long its been since the Eagles got a victory at the Linc.
Playing at home is supposed to be an advantage, and it’s one that the Eagles should be taking advantage of with four of their last six games in Philadelphia. I fully believe that the Eagles will come out jacked up on Sunday and they should be able to get even more hyped if the fans are behind them. Eagles fans want to get behind the team more than anything, but the players need to take the first step. If they can do that, they should be able to ride the momentum of the crowd and go home with a victory.