Reid Pleased With Defense, But Not Satisfied

Despite holding the Cowboys to 71 yards rushing, Eagles' head coach Andy Reid isn't about to consider his defense's ability to stop the run completely solved. The Eagles made several changes for Monday's win over Dallas, and more moves will likely be needed on Sunday.

(PHILADELPHIA) -- Two weeks ago, coach Andy Reid watched his defense give up 252 rushing yards to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last week, he watched the defense hold the Dallas Cowboys to 71 rushing yards on 24 carries.

Is he ready to say that his defense's season-long difficulty stopping the run has been solved? Hardly.

"It was better," he said. "Do we have room to improve? Absolutely we do. And we're going to keep working in that direction. By no means are we complacent because of what happened defensively against the Cowboys. We need to get better and we'll keep doing that."

Truth is, the Cowboys' running game isn't very good. Eddie George, who gained just 39 yards on 11 carries against the Eagles, is on his last legs at age 32.

Reid will feel much more upbeat if his defense can be as effective against the run this week when the Eagles take on the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field.

The 'Skins are 3-6. They're starting a rusty, young quarterback (Patrick Ramsey) who has been on the bench the first nine games and will make an inviting target for the Eagles' tenacious pass rush.

But the Skins also have a potent running game that features one of the league's most dangerous backs, Clinton Portis. And if their defense can keep the Eagles from jumping out to a quick double-digit lead, they hope to give the ball to Portis a lot Sunday and really see what the Eagles' run defense is made of.

After a slow start, Portis has rushed for 469 yards in the Skins' last four games, averaging 4.5 yards per carry in those four games.

After giving up 686 rushing yards in their previous four games, the Eagles made a couple of defensive lineup changes against the Cowboys.

They benched struggling weak-side linebacker Nate Wayne and moved undersized middle linebacker Mark Simoneau over to Wayne's spot. They replaced Simoneau inside with bigger, stronger Jeremiah Trotter, who isn't as technically sound as Simoneau but is a better point-of-attack player and is better equipped to take on the blockers that tackles Darwin Walker and Corey Simon haven't been tying up.

They also substituted backup tackles Hollis Thomas and Sam Rayburn more frequently.

"We just want to go out and handle our business," free safety Brian Dawkins said. "Whatever guys around the league or you (media) guys say (about our run defense) is what you're going to say.

Even at that, it's going to be said that the offense scored points (against the Cowboys), so (the Cowboys) couldn't run the ball.

"We'll just have to go out and when they do run the ball this week, we're going to try to stop them. We can't really buy into what everybody else is talking about. We just have to go out and do our job. And for the most part last week, I think we did that."

The Eagles' ability to stop Portis and the Redskins' running game could be hindered by injuries this week. Up front, both Simon and Walker are nursing injuries. Walker still hasn't completely recovered from a calf strain, and Simon sat out most of the final three quarters Monday night with a groin injury that may or may not allow him to play this week.

Then there are the linebackers. Simoneau sat out the second half of the Cowboys game with a concussion. Wayne suffered a hamstring injury playing on special teams. Keith Adams, who replaced Simoneau at weak-side linebacker, sprained his ankle and wasn't able to practice Wednesday.

If Simoneau, Adams and Wayne all can't play Sunday, Reid said Ike Reese, who is one of the club's two linebackers in their nickel packages, probably would line up on the weak side. Another less likely possibility would be moving strong-side linebacker Dhani Jones over to the weak side and replacing him on the strong side with Reese.

SERIES HISTORY: 139th meeting. Redskins lead the series 73-60-5. Eagles have won the last five meetings, including both games last year. They edged the Skins in Philadelphia in early October, 27-25, then beat them handily in the final week of the regular-season, 31-7.

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