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Redskins Eagles After Further Review

Redskins Eagles After Further Review

Had the Washington Redskins managed to beat the Cincinnati Bengals last week or the St. Louis Rams in mid-October, yesterday's 10-3 win over the Eagles would have been a landmark game with a legendary finish. It would have propelled them into a position to snag a spot in the playoffs by beating the 49ers next Sunday.

In the real world, however, it was a somewhat entertaining game that featured a mix of good defense and bad offense on the part of both teams.

The Washington secondary swarmed over the Eagle receivers most of the game. Donovan McNabb frequently was unable to find open receivers and that gave Jason Taylor a chance to rack up two sacks, more than doubling his total for the season. One of those sacks was accompanied by a strip of the ball, and London Fletcher's subsequent recovery and return set up the Redskins' only touchdown.

When McNabb had time to throw—and he did frequently—his receivers were getting rocked. LaRon Landry, who had his best game in a long time, smacked the Eagles' receiver DeSean Jackson on a couple of occasions, once sending the rookie into the locker room to have the medical staff take a look at his ribs.

In another, less spectacular but equally effective play in the fourth quarter, Shawn Springs executed a classic strip of the ball on a McNabb to Jackson pass over the middle.

That was the good defense part. The bad offense came when the Eagles got a severe case of the dropsies. First it was tight end L. J. Smith dropping a couple of short passes with a lot of green grass in front of him. Then Jackson couldn't get the handle on a couple of deep passes, including one in the end zone that would have tied the game in the late going. Someone in the press box counted seven drops (presumably not counting Assante Samuel's drop of an interception that cost the Eagles some 40 yards of field position).

The Eagles had ample opportunity to drop passes since Andy Reid had McNabb drop back 48 times and hand off just 16 times. Even if you take out the 15 passes that McNabb attempted in that final drive you still have a pass to run ratio of two to one. This in a game that the Redskins led by more than a touchdown for just over four minutes on a cold, windy evening and that Philly entered with two of its top receivers inactive. It appeared for a while the Reid was buying into the concept of offensive balance but it certainly eluded him in this game.

It's hard to say whether or not the Eagles played great defense since the Washington offense was its usual unproductive self. The one sustained scoring drive, a 16-play field goal march that consumed 8:31 of the second quarter was nice but it ended with three points instead of seven.

About the best you can say about the Washington offense was that it did move the chains and thus was able to give the defense some rest. They didn't have any three and out series in the first three quarters.

The D needed the time on the sideline as the Redskins went three and out on three straight drives in the fourth quarter. Two of those started in Eagle territory but the Redskins, thanks primarily to some ultra-conservative play calling by Zorn, couldn't salt it away.

The defense got the job done, forcing four straight three-play Eagle possessions. They had enough left in the tank to stop their last drive a yard short of the end zone.

Again, if this game had playoff implications the high-low stop of Reggie Brown by Fred Smoot and Landry would have been wall poster material. I asked Landry if he'd ever heard of Ken Houston and, to my disappointment but not to my surprise, he said that he had not. The stop wasn't exactly like the solo tackle of Walt Garrison that Houston made in 1973, but it was the closest thing we've seen since. There was no question that the ball never crossed the plane of the goal line but everyone had to wait another minute or so for that to be confirmed by replay.

Zorn and the locker room were appropriately "medium" after this one, certainly happy to get a win in a game that had meaning to the other team (and, technically, meaning for the Redskins as it unfolded as it was on at the same time as the Falcons game) but far from giddy over breaking their three-game losing streak.

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Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 5, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:05; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 17; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 25

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Long's concussion could force roster move

First look at Redskins vs. Eagles

The last time: The Redskins won 27-20 at FedEx Field in Week 6 in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Redskins outgained the Eagles 493 yards to 239 and had the ball for 10 more minutes. Philly scored on a kickoff return and an interception return in a three-minute span in the second quarter and that was about all they had. The Redskins have now beaten the Eagles four straight times. 

The Eagles leaders: Quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start, posting three passer ratings of over 100 in his first four games. In eight games since his passer rating is 70.1 and his high in a game is 91.4. Leading rusher Ryan Mathews had his first 100-yard game in Week 10; he shares the load with Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Jordan Matthews (57 receptions, 686 yards) is expected back after missing last week with an ankle injury. Sacks leader Brandon Graham (5.0) has only one sack in the last six games.

Be on the lookout: The Eagles have been getting it done on special teams for years. This year they have two kickoff return touchdowns and Darren Sproles averages 13.7 yards per punt return including a 66-yarder.

Hodgepodge: A Washington win would put them 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles with three to play. Barring a Philly win out/Redskins lose out scenario the Redskins would be out of last place in the NFC East in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-2003 . . . The Redskins already are ensured of avoiding double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 . . . The Eagles have allowed over 400 yards of offense in two of their last three games.

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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