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Prediction: Will more Eagles plays equal more turnovers?

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Prediction: Will more Eagles plays equal more turnovers?

Week 1 games are difficult to predict. Without looking it up, I’m sure that I picked the Saints to win comfortably a year ago today as the Redskins went to New Orleans for RG3’s debut. I don’t think I saw them beating the Giants behind Rex Grossman in 2011. Perhaps I called the win over Dallas to open the Mike Shanahan era but even if you give me that one out of three isn’t a great track record.

I have to say that it’s tough to be confident about predicting tonight’s game. For a change, the Redskins are the known quantity, assuming that Dr. Andrews’ repair of RG3’s knee is sound. It’s the opponent, the Eagles, that is the mystery. They have a new coach (Chip Kelly), a new offense (some sort of up tempo spread) and a new defense (a 3-4, even though Kelly won’t call it that).

The Eagles do have many of the same players running Kelly’s new offense—running back LeSean McCoy, receiver DeSean Jackson, and quarterback Michael Vick. While there may be very limited game film of the NFL version of Kelly’s offense there is plenty of tape on these players, especially Vick. He has played in 121 NFL games so there is ample data available to study his tendencies.

And if the best guesses on Kelly’s offense are correct, it calls for Vick to do things that he has not done well during the course of his career. It calls for quick decisions and that isn’t Vick’s strong point. Soon after he was hired Kelly said that he wants his quarterback to release his passes within 1.6 seconds after the snap. He hasn’t talked much about that lately as it took Vick about 3.6 seconds to get his passes off during the preseason.

Kelly’s offense is designed to get off more plays. His logic is that more plays equals more yards. Yes, but with Vick more plays could also equal more turnovers. In the past two years he has started 23 games and he has 24 interceptions and 21 fumbles. More snaps could be the proverbial double-edged sword for Philly.

Will the fast-paced attack work in the NFL? Kelly likes to point to a 2010 game when Oregon had 21 minutes of possession time to 39 for UCLA. The Ducks won 60-13. But that was a bad 4-8 UCLA team. There are no such talent disparities in the NFL.

On the other side of the ball, it looks like the Eagles are having a rough go at transitioning to the 3-4 defense. This is pain the Redskins know well, having one through it in 2010 and at least into 2012. They will take many of the 4-3 players who were members of the 2012 Philly defense, a unit that ranked 29th in points allowed and 23rd against the run, and have them adapt to the new scheme.

It seems to be a safe bet that the Redskins will put up some points. Despite the fact that he was hobbled by a knee injury in their second meeting, Griffin was deadly efficient against the Eagles last year. He completed 77 percent of his passes, averaged 10.2 yards per attempt, and threw six touchdowns to one interception.

But the key could be Alfred Morris. There was no sign during the preseason that the Eagles will be any better against the run. Morris didn’t run wild against them last year (167 yards combined in the two games) but if he gets rolling that will help keep the Eagles’ offense off the field and help the Redskins put up some points?

How many will they score? They averaged 27 a game last year. Let’s give them another TD and go with 35 with two TD’s being the result of takeaways.

And they’ll need to score a lot to keep from sweating this one out. Even though a lot of the time the Eagles’ offense will be a lot of movement and sound and fury that doesn’t accomplish much. They’ll break a long play, maybe more than one. McCoy could have a pretty big day. But many drives will die because Vick, the guy pulling the trigger, will make a mistake to kill it. A few succeed, perhaps one or two because of a big play. It won’t be enough.

Redskins 35, Eagles 21

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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