Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 12, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.
—Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.
—Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Lions 11; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 18
First thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles
—This is the biggest game for the Redskins since, well, their last big game. If they win and the Cowboys lose to the Packers they would be tied for first in the division. Last year their sweep of the Eagles was the key to winning the NFC East. If they want to do that again they likely need at least a split with Philly and defending their home turf would be the best way for the Redskins to get that done.
—Last week the Redskins played the defense that was ranked No. 1 in the Ravens. This week they face the second-ranked defense. In fact, the Eagles are just 11 yards behind the Seahawks for the top spot. The Philadelphia pass rush is fierce; they are one of two teams (Broncos the other) who are scoring sacks on over 10 percent of their opponents’ pass attempts. It would not be surprising if the Redskins had to try to win again with fewer than 20 points on the board.
—The news that Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson’s 10-game PED related suspension will be upheld is not at all surprising. The suspension is effective immediately so he will miss the game on Sunday and the game in Philadelphia in Week 14. They have had plenty of time to plan for his absence. Johnson is arguably their best offensive, however, so there will be a drop off when the substitute either rookie Halapouliavatti Vaitai, a fifth-round pick, or move veteran guard Allen Barbie from guard to right tackle. In the bigger picture, Johnson is their plan for the future at left tackle when Jason Peters retires and since another PED violation (this is his second suspension) will send Johnson to the sideline for multiple seasons there has to be some long-term concern beyond if Vaitai can hold down the job.
—Is five games of tape on Carson Wentz enough for Joe Barry to figure him out? Maybe but that’s only part of the battle. The rookie is calm and cool in the pocket; his football IQ is off the charts. The Redskins have not been very good at rattling rookie QBs this year. Dak Prescott never batted an eye at what the Redskins threw at him and the Browns didn’t lose to Washington because of Cody Kessler coming apart at the seams. Perhaps turning up the head on the pass rush would bother Wentz but so far the Redskins have not shown that they have the ability to do that consistently and Joe Barry seems reluctant to dial up blitzed to make it happen.
—The Eagles are fifth in the league in rushing yards with a true committee approach. Ryan Mathews is the leading rusher with 146 yards followed by three plays, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner, who have between 85 and 100 yards. Wentz is mobile but he has only 35 yards rushing.
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