The Eagles are running out of time to get their season back on the right track. After suffering a humiliating loss at the hands of Tony Romo and the Cowboys last week, Philadelphia (3-5) is now at the bottom of the NFC east and has very little room for error for the rest of the season if they still hope to make the playoffs. With a big division game against Washington (5-3) coming up, here is a look at three players who need to step up and play well on Sunday for the Eagles to have a chance at winning:
McNabb is coming off a forgettable performance against Dallas that had many people beginning to question whether he should still be the starting quarterback for the Eagles. Against the Cowboys, McNabb had a completion percentage under 60% for only the third time this year and was responsible for three Philadelphia turnovers. On the first play of the game, McNabb held the ball too long looking for an open receiver and fumbled after being hit from behind by Marcus Spears. He also threw two interceptions in the game.
Last time McNabb faced off against the Redskins, he was playing in only his second game since returning from a serious knee injury he suffered last season, and the rust showed. McNabb finished the game with 240 yards and no touchdowns while completing 58.7% of his passes. The offensive looked stagnant throughout the game and converted on 6 out of 15 third down attempts.
This week, the Eagle's quarterback will try to silence his critics and lead the attack against a defense that has allowed 215.6 yards per game through the air. On the season, McNabb has thrown for 2044 yards, which ranks fourth highest in the NFC, and nine touchdowns.
Mikell saw significant playing time early this season, replacing Brian Dawkins when the all pro safety went down with an injury in week two, and he will be asked to step into the starting line up once again. With Sean Considine landing on the injured reserve list with a shoulder injury, Mikell will play at strong safety this weekend against Washington. The fifth-year veteran out of Boise State has impressed coaches so far this year, currently ranking third on the team in tackles with a career-high 44 stops. Mikell also has a sack and a fumble recovery this season. His improved play has been a big reason that the Eagles have the third best-run defense in the NFC. With more playing time, Mikell will be asked to take on more responsibility in both coverage and run support against a solid Redskins offense led by Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley.
The thing Brown probably remembers most about the Eagles last meeting with the Redskins is not a big catch or score, but getting laid out by safety Sean Taylor while trying to catch an under thrown ball from McNabb. Against Washington in week two, Brown was a non-factor in the 20-12 loss, hauling in 2 catches for a mere 27 yards. After leading Philadelphia in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season, Brown has failed to come close to matching that kind of production this year. While he was expected to play a big role in Andy Reid's offense in 2007, the third-year receiver out of Georgia has been inconsistent catching the ball and has failed to make big plays. So far this season, Brown has 27 catches for 374 yards and has yet to score a touchdown. He will face a Washington secondary on Sunday that has allowed nine touchdowns through the air.
Andrew Pluta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.