Eagles-Redskins: What We're Watching
Here is Paul Domowitch's list of the five things he will be watching during the Eagles-Redskins game Sunday:
Is This the Week They Stop the Run?: The bad-tackling, can't-get-off-a-block Birds have allowed a disturbing 140.2 rushing yards per game. They're giving up an equally disturbing 5.0 yards per carry. But they showed some improvement against the run in the second half last week, giving up just 51 yards on the Bills' final 17 carries. The Redskins almost certainly will try to try to run it down their throats on Sunday. Stopping them and putting Rex Grossman in obvious passing situations is Job One.
Short Yardage: The Eagles are third in the league in total offense and sixth in third-down efficiency, yet continue to struggle in short-yardage. They are just 11-for-21 on third downs of three yards or less. Last week against the Bills, they had 3 or less yards for a first down seven times and converted just four of them. Running back LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, but has converted just 9 of 16 short-yardage situations (2 yards or less).
Enough With the Mother Teresa Act: The Eagles' biggest problem in the first five games has been turnovers. They've got an NFL-high 15 already, which is 11 more than they had last year at this time. Andy Reid's teams have had a negative turnover ratio just twice since he got to Philly. This year, they're already at minus-10. And counting.
Protecting Mike: The Eagles' offensive line has allowed just eight sacks in five games and only five in the last four. But that number is misleading. They have allowed a lot of pressure – and a lot of hits – on quarterback Michael Vick, which has contributed to his 10 giveaways. With LT Jason Peters still on the shelf with a hamstring injury, they're going up against a Redskins pass rush that is second to the Eagles in sacks per pass play.
Close the Screen Door: When the Redskins aren't running the ball Sunday, they're likely going to be following the Bills' Week 5 lead and attacking the Eagles with screens and shovel passes. Nine of Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's 21 completions last week were screens or shovel passes. The Eagles must be ready for them, and must keep them to minimal gains.
John Beck might have had the most interesting job this week. Beck, the Redskins' backup quarterback, ran the scout team as Michael Vick.
"Even though he doesn't have the speed like Vick, he gives us a good look," coach Mike Shanahan told reporters.
The Redskins had a late addition to their injury report Friday, with cornerback DeAngelo Hall listed as questionable with a knee injury. He was a limited participant in practice.
Hall's injury was revealed after Shanahan had spoken with the media.
Running back Tim Hightower (shoulder), tight end Chris Cooley (knee), receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) and cornerback Phillip Buchanon (neck) also are listed as questionable.
Cooley was not happy that Shanahan revealed to the media this week that he had his knee drained. He told reporters he expects to play against the Eagles.