Welcome back to the B&G Report’s second installment of “Skins Q&A”! I received some great questions and I’m excited to post my responses. Without any further ado, here we go!
*B&G– Great question Dante, I hate them too! The Skins will have to do a lot more than three things to pull this game out. I’ll focus on what’s realistic for the Redskins, but injuries are my biggest concern at the moment. Bringing down Eagles QB Carsen Wentz is imperative. If the Skins defenders get a hand on him, they need to wrap up. Early indications are Josh “The Cerebral Assassin” Norman might be able to go, but a broken rib is more than just testing his pain threshold. It’s definitely a concern that Norman could make the injury worse, but I think he’ll give it a shot. My three keys to victory will be as follows; establish the run early, but that doesn’t necessarily mean breaking off huge runs. What I want to see is 3-5 yard gains, which will lead to manageable downs and distances. If they can manage decent gains on 1st-2nd downs, that would lead to a believable play action game. The question is who’ll be starting at RB? No news on RB Robert Kelly might be good news, but I’d like to see RB Mack Brown more involved regardless of who’s starting. I doubt Coach Gruden activates 4 backs on game day, but we will see. My second key to victory is getting Chris “Might Mouse” Thompson involved early. The screens and the short passing game have brought out the best in Thompson. The short passing game might not be exciting, but it sets up all types of options for Kirk Cousins. If the Eagles are forced to put more defenders in the box, it will open up the field for the other Skins pass catchers. I’d love to see Cousins take some deep shots to Doctson/Pryor, continuing to utilize the short game could set up those opportunities. Lastly my #1 key to victory is defensive line pressure. As I previously mentioned, with John Allen headed to IR, this will be an opportunity for other players to get more playing time and make an impact. I have faith that Defensive Line Coach Tomsula will have his troops ready, especially DE Anthony Lanier & AJ Francis . Allen played a variety of roles including DE, NT and even stood up as an odd rusher. I think that could play to Lanier’s strengths as a former basketball player. There is an unusual GB Packers exotic defensive front, known as the “Nascar Package”, led by ILB/OLB Clay Matthews, in which the entire D-Line and linebackers rush from a standing position. This creates confusion in which O-line gaps can be attacked with multiple rushers. With the 6’6 Lanier being a former basketball player, he could be used in similar fashion. The bottom line is the Skins defense needs keep Wentz uncomfortable and in the pocket. The Eagles second year signal caller has been compared to Ben Roethlisberger, but with more speed and elusiveness. Pressure won’t be enough on Monday Night though. If the Redskins don’t force at least 2 turnovers, it will be an up hill battle to win. The kicking situation will also be worth watching with the recent signing of Nick Rose, who has never kicked in a regular season NFL game. (80 yard FG YouTube video below)
*Alex in CO– “The Eagles are red hot right now. What match ups can the Redskins exploit to give them a chance at victory?”
*B&G– I would say that flexing TE Jordan Reed more often into the slot, would be the first mismatch the Skins could exploit. Unfortunately this isn’t the Jordan Reed from years past, but his backup Vernon Davis has looked great this year when given the chance. Reed just can’t get healthy this year and asking him to block on run plays is absurd! Reports are Jordan is currentlly dealing with shoulder, chest and most notably a banged up big toe. Reed received a shoe orthotic for his lingering toe issue weeks ago, which hasn’t seemed to help his play on the field. Reed just doesn’t have the same juke in his route running, but he still forces teams to account for him with an extra linebacker or safety. I’d like to see Vernon Davis continue to run sideline routes because let’s face it, none of the Skins tight ends can run block! The Redskins are better off using a swing tackle in the run game, rather than using their tight ends. The biggest matchup advantage I see for the Redskins is on offense. Kirk Cousins needs to utilize his receivers and tight ends superior height advantage, over the smaller Eagles DB’s. Eagles best DB Ronald Darby is questionable to play, but even he’s only 5’11. With the exception of rookie CB Rasul Douglas (6’2 209), the rest of the Eagles backs are 5’11 or smaller. Douglas mostly plays on special teams and is a liability in coverage, so I doubt we will see him covering receivers 1-3. Although Pryor (6’4) and Doctson (6’2) have had quiet seasons thus far, this will be an opportunity for them to show what they can do to stretch the field. The advantage of having height in the passing game, is the ability for Kirk to throw jump balls in the red zone. Even if jump balls don’t result in completions/touchdowns, it will dramatically increase the odds of drawing defensive pass interference/holding calls. Continueing to utilize Thompson could be a matchup advantage as well, but not with the Eagles defense playing at their best. Their speed on defense will force the Skins offense to be creative and will dare Cousins to take shots deep. The threat of Cousins to scramble has also become a real staple in the Skins playbook. He’s running the read option better than any pocket QB in the NFL at the moment. This added threat could help in the screen game as well. It’ll be very hard to get on the outside of this Wide 9 Eagles defensive front. This formation splits their D-Ends and LB’s out wide. So forcing plays up the middle with the Skins Guards might be key. Guard Brandon Scherff is playing better than any guard in the league at the moment. Matching Scherff vs Eagles DT Cox could be the best matchup of the night. Other than that I really don’t see any other matchup advantages, mainly due to the injuries the Skins are currently facing. Having Norman play would be huge, but he won’t be the same “Cerebral Assassin” we are used to seeing until he’s fully healed. Cornerbacks Kendall Fuller along with rookie Fabian Morea will need to step up and force turnovers. If Breeland can play on a sprained knee, that would be big for the Redskins as well. Coach Gruden refered to him as “Gumby”. In the end I do see the Redskins getting the victory, with the defense coming up with a pick six to win the game! Redskins Player Profile and Eagles Monday Night Showdown Primer coming soon! HTTR!🏹🏈
Redskins 27 Eagles 19