A Strong Defense is Always Important in D.C.
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — A strong defense is always a goal for politicians inside the Beltway. For the Washington Redskins, it might be a necessity.
Not much is expected of the 'Skins when they hit the Lincoln Financial Field turf against the highly-regarded Eagles on Sunday but the game isn't exactly Alabama against Mercer either.
All NFL teams have very good players and the Eagles are cognizant that Washington has plenty of difference-makers who could turn an expected blowout into a competitive football game very quickly.
It starts on the defensive side of the football where Ryan Kerrigan, a notorious Eagles killer, has earned Philadelphia's respect with Mike Groh calling Kerrigan a "rolling ball of butcher blades" Thursday.
"This guy is a heck of a player in all phases," the Eagles offensive coordinator said of Kerrigan. "Run game, he certainly creates and generates a pass rush. We have to be very conscious of where he is at. Heck of a player. High motor. He's smart. You're not going to fool him on a lot of stuff. He's one of those guys that we certainly spend time talking about. We want to make sure we got the right guys on him."
That came on the heels of All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson confessing "it sucks" when asked what it's like trying to block Kerrigan.
“Anytime I go against him, you gotta be on your A-game,” Johnson said. “In this league, you can’t really slack, and if you do, you’ll get exposed. As far as him, he’s a class act, a fearless competitor and really the heartbeat of their team.”
Others on the Washington defense who could give the Eagles some headaches are Jonathan Allen, Da'Ran Payne and Montez Sweat, consecutive first-round talents on the front seven, and back-end stars Josh Norman and Landon Collins.
"Obviously we know Josh Norman, he's going to follow [WR] Alshon [Jeffery], which he has the last couple of seasons. That's obviously something we want to continue to monitor, watch and check out during the game," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Kerrigan is a guy that can -- he picks his spots. He's talented. He can rush and get after the passer. He's a good player and they move him around a little bit. I think with him and [Redskins LB Montez] Sweat now on either side, this is a pretty good pass-rush on defense. That's obviously something we got to watch out for."
Redskins coach Jay Gruden is an offensive-minded head coach but even he realizes who has to carry the water this season if Washington plans to be competitive in the NFC East.
"Defensively, we have a chance to be special," Gruden said. "If we have to win 17-13, we'll win 17-13 with a great defense."
-Much has been made about the changes Carson Wentz made in his training habits and we caught an up-close look at the QB1 working on his flexibility before practice.
-All of the Eagles players who were limited Wednesday: Jason Kelce (non-injury) Brandon Brooks (Achilles), Derek Barnett (shoulder) and Rudy Ford (Achilles) were practicing in some form today. DeSean Jackson (finger) wasn't running routes with the other WRs in individual drills while Jordan Mailata (back) was absent for the second consecutive day.
-It was reported that QB Kyle Lauletta got $20,000 per week to sign in the Eagles practice squad, a sharp increase from the typical stipend of $8K per week.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen