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Can the Eagles Shut Up and Play?

Can the Eagles Shut Up and Play?

When two teams with identical records meet in a game that marks the midpoint of the NFL season, there is usually a checklist of factors to consider when trying to figure out who is going to win. In the case of this Sunday’s night game between the Redskins and Eagles, that checklist doesn’t tell us much.

Injuries: The healthier club has an advantage, often a large one. In this case, the healthier team is neither. The injury list for the two teams is 26 names long with 14 Eagles and 12 Redskins appearing on it. Although nobody is listed as doubtful nine players are questionable, meaning that there is a 50/50 chance that the likes of Philly’s Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens, and Jevon Kearse and Washington’s Cornelius Griffin. These are not fringe players.

Coaching: Joe Gibbs has the superior lifetime resume. Andy Reid, having taken his team to the Super Bowl last year, has the edge in the “what have you done lately” department.

Statistics: Not much to go on here, either. The Redskins’ worst statistical weakness, their 25th- ranked run defense, is offset by the fact that the Eagles rarely run the ball.

Momentum: Both teams are coming off of ugly road losses, losing by a combined 54 points. They both have figurative wounds to lick as well as the literal ones.

Stepping back a bit, though, looking at it in the longer term, this may be where we find the key. The Eagles could well be coming into this one with three straight losses with a miracle win on a blocked field goal against San Diego coming in between blowout losses to Dallas and Denver. Their swagger seems to have disappeared.

They may not be in a slump, they may be imploding. Setting the charges, of course, is none other that Owens, who had some, well, head-scratching things to say in an ESPN interview.
ESPN analyst Michael Irvin recently said the Eagles would be undefeated if Favre was the starting quarterback.
Asked for his thoughts on Irvin's comment, Owens said: "That's a good assessment, I would agree with that, just with what [Favre] brings to the table.
"A number of commentators will say he's a warrior, he's played with injuries. I feel like him being knowledgeable about the quarterback position, I feel like we'd probably be in a better situation."

It’s not exactly like the QB that the Eagles do have, McNabb, is a wuss who doesn’t know the game. Owens went on to point out McNabb’s third-quarter interception, which came with the Eagles trailing just 28-21, as the reason the Eagles lost last Sunday.

The slams weren’t just for the quarterback. Owens also took one at the entire organization:
Owens also hard harsh things to say about the Eagles for not publically recognizing his 100th career touchdown catch Oct. 23 at home against the Chargers.
"That right there just shows you the type of class and integrity that they claim not to be," said Owens, who became the sixth receiver in NFL history to reach the milestone. "They claim to be first class and the best organization. It's an embarrassment. It just shows a lack of class they have. My publicist talked to the head PR guy and they made an excuse they didn't recognize that was coming up. But that was a blatant lie. Had it been somebody else they probably would have popped fireworks around the stadium."
The key line is, of course, “It just shows a lack of class they have.” TO has shown that he has a lot of class. Unfortunately, all of it is low.

Certainly, turmoil doesn’t preclude winning. Teams that are winning quarrel all the time, sometimes in public. But it’s a different deal when a team is losing—and make no mistake, the Eagles are in that category. That’s the time when needs to close ranks, shut up and play.

Speaking of shut up and play, ex-Redskin Jeremiah Trotter said in an interview earlier this week that the Redskins had “no heart” and Kearse said that the Redskins were the Eagles “b—ches”.

Apparently, Reid is continuing his laissez-faire approach to Owens and letting TO be TO and did not comment on the comments by Trotter and Kearse. Reid takes the “they’re grown men, let them handle it” philosophy. When you’re winning, that’s the enlightened approach; when you’re not, the inmates are running the asylum.

All that being said, what Kearse said isn’t far from the truth. The Redskins have lost seven straight to the Eagles and most of the games haven’t been close. Have the Redskins improved enough and have the Eagles imploded enough to change this?

The initial gut feeling earlier this week was no. The thought here was that the Eagles would circle the wagons one last time and have enough to beat a good but still shaken Redskins team.

Then, as the week went on, I realized that those weren’t wagons being circled up I-95 but rings being added to the circus. I went to Redskins Park on Wednesday. This is not a shaken group of players and coaches. To a man, they had put the Sunday’s debacle behind them and were focused on the Eagles. There is no false bravado here. We know that well from the team under previous coaches and this is different. The confidence is in the players’ eyes as well as in their words.

Like just about everything for the 2005 Redskins, it won’t be easy. Washington will jump to an early lead, but the Eagles will fight back, perhaps even take the lead. But their lack of a running game won’t allow them to hold it and the Redskins will pull back ahead in the second half. Washington will have to repel one or two late Philly bids to win it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 20

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The best players left in the draft for the Redskins—Offense

The best players left in the draft for the Redskins—Offense

The Redskins have seven picks in the final four rounds of the draft today. Here are some of the top players available on offense. Will look at the defense a little later this morning.

Offensive line

G Dorian Johnson, Pitt—The Redskins probably would want him to add a few pounds to his frame, as at 6-5 he currently carries “only” 300 pounds. He’s smart, tough, and athletic.

G Nico Siragusa, San Diego State—At 6-4, his weight is about right at 319 pounds. A three-year starter with a great power game and pass protection skills that will need to be coached up.

RELATED: Redskins focus on defense in first 3 rounds

Tight end/receiver

TE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech—He’s big enough to be your blocking tight end and athletic enough to line up split out wide.

WR Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma—One of the most productive receivers in the country and a Heisman finalist. He’s a little small at 6-0, 178 but he has excellent deep speed.

Running back

RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma—As a true freshman in 2014 he set the national record by rushing for 427 yards in a game against Kansas. He probably doesn’t have that kind of monster game in him at the next level but he will be a solid, reliable back who can handle a heavy workload.

RB Jeremy McNichols, Boise State—A very productive runner and pass catcher who posted over 2,200 yards of offense last year.

MORE REDSKINS: Three reasons to like the pick of Ryan Anderson 

Quarterback

QB Nathan Peterman, Pitt—Nobody would have batted an eye if he had gone off the board in the third or maybe even the late second round. If the Redskins are concerned about Kirk Cousins leaving as a free agent, Peterman carries a very similar set of skills.

QB Brad Kaaya, Miami—Another QB many thought may be off the board by now, Kaaya has the mental makeup to succeed at quarterback but his game needs a lot of polish.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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