Graham Understands Eagles Must Slow Down Cousins
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If you want to boil down the recent success the Redskins have had against the Eagles you can really focus on one thing, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The prolific Cousins, who has passed the football for over 4,000 yards in the prior two seasons and nearly reached 5,000 in 2016, has lit up the Philadelphia defense since taking over for Robert Griffin III for the Redskins.
In five career appearances versus the Eagles, which bridges the Chip Kelly era into the Doug Pederson one and the Billy Davis defense to the Jim Schwartz brand, Cousins has thrown for 1,579 yards with 12 touchdowns versus three interceptions.
And it's time to change that, according to Eagles star defensive end Brandon Graham.
"Some of those games, we made it a little easy for him," Graham admitted on Thursday when discussing the season opener between the two teams on Sunday. "We didn't put too much pressure on him. We've got a nice little game-plan to get things done [this time]. He's going to see a different Eagles team, starting Game 1."
That different Eagles team features a fortified defensive line in support of the stars, Graham and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. A healthy Vinny Curry, the interior push Tim Jernigan should provide, and the natural pass-rushing skills of first-round pick Derek Barnett should all help.
"Just get him off his timing," Graham said when asked what the Eagles need to do. "Just make sure that we do what we're supposed to do up front, and that's get after him."
The big issue comes with who is protecting Cousins in that Washington has a pair of really impressive tackles in Trent Williams and Morgan Moses as well as a top-10 guard in the league in Brandon Scherff.
"Trent Williams is the best in the game," Graham admitted when talking about the Redskins' star left tackle before realizing Jason Peters might be in earshot. "Besides, Jason Peters. He's really good at being a technician. He's really good at his technique. He doesn't put himself in bad positions. He gets lazy sometimes but sometime's that's when plays are away from him. It's not when plays are at him. He's perfect for the way they run their offense."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen