5 Things to Watch in Eagles – Redskins
The start of September always bring hope and optimism for the coming NFL regular season. With a new head coach, fans of the Philadelphia Eagles have more intrigue then ever before -- excitement is abundant across the Delaware Valley for the season to finally get underway.
Fans will get their first taste on Monday night of how this version of the Eagles will look, and they'll see them against a Washington Redskins team that won the division and swept the season series last year.
How will Monday play out? Here are some things to look for when the Eagles and Redskins square off at FedEx Field on Monday Night (Listen on 97.3 ESPN).
1) The start of a new era: Chip Kelly's debut
- The highly anticipated debut of the Chip Kelly era will happen in Landover, MD on Monday. Kelly, thought by some as a offensive genius, will be under the microscope as all NFL eyes will be on him and what his up-temp, high octane offense will look like at the pro level. Expect the Redskins to try and make Mike Vick nervous with pressure from all angles based on their film review of Oregon. Starting offensive tackles Jason Peters and rookie Lane Johnson have a big job ahead of them, with both Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo combing for 45.5 sacks in their careers. Make no mistake about it; all eyes will be on what Kelly's offense will look like when the lights go on for real Monday Night.
2) Can the Eagles catch Washington off-guard?
- Going up against Washington in Week 1 of the season may seem like a bad way to start things off this year - they are the defensing NFC east champs. However, keep in mind, it was just one season ago, the Redskins opened the year stunning the Saints in New Orleans by scoring 40 points. How did they do that? The Redskins debuted for the first time the pistol, read-option offense, something they never showed during the preseason, and caught the Saints off-guard and unprepared. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Hasslet has had no substantial game tape to review on Kelly in the NFL other than the preseason games they gave and any tape from Oregon. The mystery surrounding exactly how Kelly will call his offense might catch the Redskins off-guard and the Eagles could jump out to a quick start because of it. Kelly could end up being the true wild card and if Vick is able to move the offense down the field the Eagles could have a solid beginning to the contest and catch the Skins on their heels all-night-long.
3) McCoy is back
- A lot of focus thus far has been on the new parts of the offense, and one of them will greatly benefit the guy man think is the Eagles best player: LeSean McCoy. Eagles fans have yearned for years to see the Eagles run the ball more frequently, expect McCoy to get the ball in bunches on Monday and throughout the season. Don't just look at carries, McCoy could also have a big impact on the passing game as well. A certain part of the Eagles' game that didn't get all that much run during the preseason will likely help McCoy find open field in the run game. Going back to Kelly's time at Oregon, they ran the read-option quite a bit. Now with Vick as his quarterback, who is very accomplished in running the football at the position, expect to see him run the ball, which in turn should make McCoy's job much easier. All he needs is a defender to hesitate slightly for him to be able to blow by for more yardage, and that's exactly what the read-option is designed to do to a defense. If that part of the Eagles' game starts working early on, McCoy could be in line for a big day against a shaky Redskins defense.
4) In Washington, offense is the name of the game
- Eagles fans got a chance to see Robert Griffin III up-close-and-personal last season. He burned them for six touchdowns and 398 yards in the two meetings. He also added 88 yards rushing, add in his favorite receiver Pierre Garcon, Alfred Morris and tight end Fred Davis and Griffin has three favorite toys on offense. Garcon should be matched up against Cary Williams for most of the game, and Williams hasn't shown to be all that consistent when he's actually not running his month and on the field through training camp and the preseason of 2013. As long as Garcon is healthy, he's battled foot injuries throughout his time in Washington, and Griffin is throwing to him, there may not be a cornerback on the Eagles roster that could limit his production on the field.
5) Put pressure on Griffin III
- Besides the potential mismatch between Pierre Garcon and Cary Williams, the entire secondary could be in for a long day against perhaps one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL today. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher and safeties Patrick Chung, Nate Allen and Earl Wolff will be tested early and often. Williams and Fletcher will start at cornerback, while Chung and Allen will get the nod at safety. Allen's struggles have been well-documented, Fletcher hasn't impressed much in camp, Williams struggled mightily in coverage in the preseason and training camp, and Wolff will be making his first regular season appearance of his life at safety. Due to all of those factors, it's absolutely essential that defensive coordinator Billy Davis dials up enough unique blitzes to force Griffin to make early decisions and limit how much he can beat the Eagles. Getting to Griffin quickly with the likes of Trent Cole, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and others will be the defense's best friend when they trot out a shaky secondary.
Out: Tackle Dennis Kelly (Back)
Prediction: Redskins over Eagles
- While the Eagles can come out and surprise the Redskins a bit in the early going with looks on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, it may not matter when the game goes final. In the end the talent of Griffin against a weakened secondary and poor run defense, will give Washington the edge over Philadelphia on Monday night. Don't blink, however, because you may end up missing something. Both these teams are going to push the tempo and run a lot of plays on Monday.
Redskins 38, Eagles 35