Eagles-Redskins: Five Things to Look For

The Eagles' first divisional match-up of the season would open up a sizable first-place lead with a win, though the Redskins pose a formidable challenge.

Cousins and the Deep Ball

Following Allen Hurns' early havoc against the Eagles in Week One, Philly's defense has done a fine job of taking the deep ball out of the equation. Philadelphia ranks 11th in least amount of yards-per-completion allowed, an even 10.0. Against a steady quarterback like Kirk Cousins, one who takes a conservative tack to the liking of Jay Gruden, the defense should expect plenty of play-action from Cousins, and an attempt to demonstrate pocket presence, before the understudy throws it deep.

In return, the Eagles secondary should be playing a very physical form of press, with lots of bump and run at the line. DeSean Jackson, during his time with the Eagles, was known to respond poorly to pressing at the line, and if Jackson doesn't immediately win the battle off the snap, he's proven easy to rattle. Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, and even Nolan Carroll will likely rotate on the ex-Eagle star to keep everyone fresh.

Can Foles Put it Together Early?

The Eagles are bound to play a complete game sooner or later. After two wins, Nick Foles and company have proven they don't need to play consistently strong (they've only led for seven of 120 minutes), even though the team would certainly prefer not having to string together the recent Herculean comebacks.

With teams likely to key on Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles following their recent wave of heavy production, Foles may well-served to check down to Jordan Matthews in the slot in the early going, creating some momentum with an unlikely target. Hard to say if the high number of drops by various receivers have thinned Foles' confidence in certain players, but building that rapport early leads to stronger starts, naturally.

Breakout Shady

Forget the ridiculous flimsy-tip story. LeSean McCoy has a bigger issue this season, and it's been his lack of utter dominance. The 'Shady' that jukes on his toe-tips and darts in another direction has yet to show himself in 2014. McCoy's best production has come on wide sweeps to the outside, beating slower defenders to the turn. Overall, McCoy averages 3.73 yards a run after two games.

Last season, in two games, McCoy ran for five-plus yards on 24 occasions against the Redskins, with nine of those runs going for ten-plus yards. Inserted guard Dennis Kelly, filling in for Evan Mathis, proved to be a highly-aware run blocker on Monday night, mirroring Jason Kelce's second-level presence with tremendous downfield blocking. After the Redskins stuffed Toby Gerhart and Jacksonville's running game on Sunday, the reality of McCoy and Darren Sproles will be a rude awakening. To what degree McCoy sticks it to the Skins remains to be seen.

Redskins Pass Rush: Is It For Real?

Eagles give up five sacks in Week One, none in Week Two. Redskins can't get a sack in Week One, sack the Jaguars ten times in Week Two. While Jacksonville's troubled line is easy to credit for allowing so many breaches, something has to be said for the Redskins having a healthy defensive corps, complete with the addition of gap-shooting Jason Hatcher.

With Kelly and Andrew Gardner taking their places on the Eagles line, the group as a whole deserves credit for keeping Foles vertical against the Colts, no matter how bad the Colts pass rush is with Robert Mathis absent. Foles was gifted the luxury of time behind his line, although Jim Haslett's group, led by Ryan Kerrigan, won't be so easily stifled.

Inside Linebacker Situation

With Alfred Morris a capable through-the-middle runner, the Eagles may have to respond without their fastest linebacker. Chances are, Mychal Kendricks will likely miss Sunday's game with a calf injury, necessitating Emmanuel Acho to step up in his place. Acho would probably get the nod over Casey Matthews, whose awful play in surrogate on Monday saw him yanked in crunch time.

DeMeco Ryans played a tremendous game on Monday night, helping solve the unbalanced run-blocking lines of the Colts in the game's later stages. Although Ryans was to have seen reduced snaps this season, particularly on third-and-long (Kendricks was slated as the only on-field linebacker in 4-1-6 dime packages), the aging Ryans will be relied on more than any other linebacker on Sunday. If that means playing every defensive snap, then so be it. Kendricks' injury isn't expected to be long term, and Ryans can bear the load for at least one week.

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