5 Eagles to Keep Your Eye on Against the Redskins
Andrew Gardner: Gardner played ok against the Colts, while replacing Allen Barbre (who was replacing Lane Johnson) at right tackle. Though Colts' linebacker Erik Walden had early success against Gardner, he was able to make the adjustments in the second half to help provide a more stable pocket for quarterback Nick Foles. The Redskins' Ryan Kerrigan will be a tougher test for Gardner. Kerrigan is explosive, very athletic and and will pose a huge threat all game long. In order for the Eagles offense to sustain drives, Gardner is going to have to build upon his success from the second half against the Colts, and keep Kerrigan from disrupting plays and getting after Nick Foles.
Emmanuel Acho: Acho will be asked to fill in for the injured Mychal Kendricks at inside linebacker. Kendricks is easily the most athletic defender on this Eagles defense and their best open field tackler. Acho has received the bulk of the snaps this week at practice, and looked much better against the Colts than Casey Matthews. Led by Alfred Morris, the Redskins have the fifth best rushing attack in the league, through the first two games. Acho will certainly be called upon to do a lot come Sunday, and the defenses success maybe contingent upon his.
Trent Cole: Trent's best moment this season came in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville, sacking Chad Henne and forcing a fumble. Though Trent certainly helped in the pass rush that held Andrew Luck to only 173 yards passing last Monday, Cole only accounted for two tackles, and failed to record a sack. Cole needs to have a big game, resembling more of the Trent Cole from the second half of last season (eight sacks in the last eight games), as opposed to the first half (no sacks in the first eight games). With Kirk Cousins under center instead of RG3, Cole and this Eagles pass rush need to find a away to get to him early, and often.
Riley Cooper: Cooper has five receptions for only 37 yards through the first two games of the season. As I mentioned in an article yesterday, Pro Football Focus has him graded as the worst wide receiver in the league. That can all change on Sunday, if Cooper can have the type of game we grew accustomed to last year. The type of game that saw him haul in 47 receptions, 835 yards, and 8 touchdowns. There is no doubt Cooper will have his chances against an average Redskins secondary. Lets hope the offensive line can maintain the pocket, Foles can find him, and Cooper will make the best of his opportunities.
Nick Foles: This is an important game for Foles. After two games, despite being the second leading passer in the NFL, Foles has given his skeptics every right to continue to question whether Nick is truly a "Franchise" quarterback. He looked indecisive and uncomfortable against Jacksonville, and was inaccurate, while struggling to connect with his wide receivers against the Colts. The always aggressive Jim Haslett (Redskins' defensive coordinator), will be certainly dialing up heavy blitz packages all game long. Foles is going to have to do a better job of reading the defense, getting the ball out of his hand quicker, and connecting with his wide outs to keep this defense honest. This is a chance against a division opponent, for Foles to make a statement, and silence his critics.