Eagles-Redskins scouting report, prediction | Paul Domowitch
The Eagles will need turnovers Monday night. If their front four can pressure Redskins QB Colt McCoy the way they did Eli Manning on Sunday, they might get them.
Here is a scouting report, a look at matchups and keys, and a prediction for the big NFC East battle Monday night between the Eagles and Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field:
When Eagles run the ball
The Eagles have been trying to find a dependable lead back since Jay Ajayi went down in Week 5. Undrafted rookie Josh Adams looks like he might be the guy. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Adams, who opened the season on the practice squad and had just 11 carries in his first five games, is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He was instrumental in Sunday's comeback win over the Giants, rushing for 80 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in the second half. Adams had five of the Eagles' six rushing first downs.
The Eagles are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry in the first quarter, a big reason they have scored a league-low 21 first-quarter points. The Redskins have a very good front, but are only 14th in opponent rush average (4.3). They've allowed 130-plus rushing yards in three of their last four games. Opponents have averaged 4.8 yards per carry in those four games. Washington has given up 17 runs of 10 yards or more in those four games.
When Eagles throw the ball
Carson Wentz bounced back from his horrible performance against the Saints with a solid effort in Sunday's win over the Giants. Wentz's 69.7 completion percentage is the fifth best in the league, but he's 18th in touchdown percentage. Wentz has thrown just three touchdowns in the last three games. The Eagles are 20th in sacks allowed per pass play.
Tight end Zach Ertz continues to be Wentz's go-to guy. He is tied for third in the league in receptions (84), and is sixth in receiving first downs (47). He racked up his sixth red-zone TD catch last weekend. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery needs to be more involved in the offense. In the last four games, he has just 15 catches for 155 yards and no TDs. In his first four games after returning from shoulder surgery, he had 25 catches for 306 yards and four TDs.
The Redskins are tied for sixth in interceptions (11) and tied for ninth in sacks (32). They have a pair of ball-hawking safeties in D.J. Swearinger and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who have combined for seven of their 11 picks.
When Redskins run the ball
Adrian Peterson was a godsend for the Redskins after rookie second-round pick Derrius Guice tore his ACL in the preseason. The 33-year-old Peterson rushed for 90-plus yards in five of their first seven games. But with a slew of recent injuries to the offensive line, his production has fallen off. He's averaging just 3.0 yards per carry in the last four games, and just 2.8 on first down. Season-ending injuries to their two starting guards, Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao, were big blows to both the run and pass games.
Quarterback Colt McCoy, who has replaced injured Alex Smith, is a threat to run, both on scrambles and designed plays. He's averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
The Eagles have struggled against the run. They've allowed 6.0 yards per carry in the last six games. Sunday, they were gashed for 110 yards on 11 first-half carries by the Giants before settling down in the second half (seven carries, 16 yards). The Eagles are 27th in opponent rush average (4.9). They've struggled to get off blocks and have tackled poorly. Having two linebackers with casts on their hands isn't going to help that.
When Redskins throw the ball
The Redskins lost Smith to a gruesome leg injury in Week 11. He's been replaced by career backup McCoy. McCoy has just five starts in the last six seasons, including last week's loss to Dallas. He's a smart guy with good mobility, but takes more chances with the football than Smith. He had three interceptions in the loss to the Cowboys. Third down isn't his strong suit. He has a 73.5 career passer rating on third down and has completed just three of nine attempts and been sacked three times on third down since replacing Smith.
Jordan Reed is a talented tight end whose biggest problem has been staying healthy. He averaged six missed games in his first five years in the league, but has stayed healthy this year and leads the Redskins in receptions with 50. Their other tight end, 34-year-old Vernon Davis, caught a 53-yard TD from McCoy last week. With all the injuries in their secondary, the Eagles need to get pressure on McCoy and keep him in the pocket.
Jake Elliott has made 17 of his 21 field-goal attempts, including a 43-yarder to beat the Giants last Sunday. Just two of his four misses have been from less than 54 yards. Elliott is sixth in touchback percentage on kickoffs (.765), which has helped, since the Eagles' kickoff-coverage unit hasn't been very good. They're ranked 27th and gave up 46- and 31-yard returns to the Giants on Sunday.
The Eagles' decision to release wide receiver/punt returner DeAndre Carter hasn't turned out very well. Carter was averaging 10.3 yards per return. His replacement, Golden Tate, is averaging 2.6 yards on five returns so far. Punter Cam Johnston is third in net average (42.7). He has put six of his last 10 punts inside the 20, and has just one touchback in the last nine games.
Redskins placekicker Dustin Hopkins has made 18 of 21 field goal attempts and is second in the league in touchback percentage (.808) on kickoffs. Punter Tess Way has put an NFL-high 31 punts inside the 20. Just 18 of his 52 attempts have been returned. Rookie punt returner Trey Quinn had a 30-yard return vs. the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Both of these teams have injury issues — the Eagles in their defensive secondary and at linebacker, and the Redskins on offense, where they've lost both their starting guards and their starting quarterback. The Eagles have just five interceptions, third fewest in the NFL. But they could get some opportunities Monday night against risk-taking McCoy.
Redskins 24, Eagles 23
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson vs. Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan: Johnson hasn't played as well as he did last year when he was a first-team All-Pro selection. Kerrigan leads the Redskins in sacks with eight.
Eagles defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Chris Long vs. Redskins right guard Tony Bergstrom and right tackle Morgan Moses: Bennett, Long, and Fletcher Cox spearheaded the pass-rush pressure on Manning last Sunday. Moses has given up a team-high five sacks and 24 total pressures. Bergstrom has given up six pressures in the last two games.
Eagles slot receiver Nelson Agholor or Golden Tate vs. Redskins slot cornerback Fabian Moreau: The Eagles aren't getting the slot production they did a year ago from Agholor. He has had just three 50-plus-yard receiving games, and has just five first-down catches in the last five games. Tate is averaging just 8.8 yards per catch in his three games with the Eagles.
Corraling Colt: The Eagles have only five interceptions this season, but they might get some opportunities Monday night if the front four can pressure McCoy. The career backup is a risk-taker with a tendency to throw it up for grabs rather than throw it away when under pressure.
Ground control to Major Pederson: The Eagles ran the ball effectively in the second half against the Giants and need to do the same Monday against a run defense that is better than the one they faced Sunday. If they can keep the Redskins defense off balance with the run, Wentz could have a big night.
Tackle: The Eagles' tackling has been just awful the last five to six games. Failure to wrap up. Head in the wrong place. Taking bad angles to the ball. No swarming to the ball. The Redskins are going to hand the ball to Peterson a lot. The Eagles can't let him get rolling downhill. And when their pass rush has a chance to bring down McCoy, it needs to do it.