1) How will the replacements do?
Both RT Todd Wade and DE Demetric Evans have tough matchups. Wade is making his first start since last December and he spent the entire offseason working at another position. But he's made 86 starts at right tackle so he should be OK. What I worry about is his rust; the last time he played right tackle was in the preseason finale and he showed it in that game. But that was almost to be expected. How much further along is he? Plus he's going against Jevon Kearse, who played well in the opener. As for Evans, if Phillip Daniels doesn't go, he'll face massive tackle Jon Runyan. Evans has been a quality backup and when pressed into a starting role in the past he's done fine. But the Eagles will try to exploit both matchups.
2) What does Jason need to do?
Be more careful about where he looks. He still has a tendency to eye the receivers way too long – see the Cooley interception last week. Philly's safeties, especially Brian Dawkins, will kill him if he does that tonight. The Redskins worked on this area all offseason, but doing it in a game is another matter. At times he'll do it, but not consistently enough. This is Campbell's first Monday night game, so it'll be interesting to see how he reacts. Too often he throws high to his receivers. Perhaps that's a function of his being seven inches taller than most of them. Or it's a sign that he's too amped to make certain throws and they sail. If it's the latter, then he must do a better job staying calm on his throws tonight.
3) Has the defense really turned it around?
We'll get a better idea of that tonight. If they don't play well, it's not cause for concern, but it will be a reminder that they're still not a complete D. However, a strong night – following an excellent summer – will mean they're back. The Dolphins' offense didn't provide much of a challenge, but the Eagles should. Donovan McNabb is 8-3 against the Redskins and Brian Westbrook had 276 combined yards in two games vs. Washington last year. Look for them to again play that cover 3, making sure they don't get beat deep and perhaps keeping an extra coverman in the box area to slow Westbrook.
4) How will the D-line fare?
They were fantastic last week, keeping the Dolphins' linemen off the linebackers almost all game. And the linebackers' speed makes it hard to get to them. But the Miami line was horrible; Philly's is pretty good. One matchup to watch is DT Anthony Montgomery against Pro Bowl RG Shawn Andrews. Montgomery had no tackles last week, but played well by holding up linemen and drawing some double teams. I worry less about the tackles in this game than I do about the ends.
5) Are the Eagles' special teams problems fixed?
We'll see. But it doesn't sound as if signing Reno Mahe will cure everything. Of course, all he must do to improve the situation is catch the ball. We're guessing they'll be better.
6) Can the Redskins get the ball to Chris Cooley?
In the past four games, Cooley has caught 16 passes for 178 yards and no touchdowns. He'll be a factor. With a backup corner starting tonight, the safeties might need to pay closer attention to the outside than they normally would. If that's the case, then Cooley will get free. Antwaan Randle El's big game last week should help open things up. However, it wouldn't be surprising if teams continue to force Randle El to prove himself against man coverage for a bit longer than one game. Still, Cooley should have a bigger role. What I'd like to see, however, is better blocking from him in the run game. He had a terrific block on Clinton Portis' touchdown run last week, but he missed on too many others.
7) Will the Redskins have success on the ground?
Yes. This is who they are. Their offensive success lies in the passing game and the development of Jason Campbell. But they've established that few teams run the ball better. Takeo Spikes' presence should help the Eagles, but last season Washington rushed for 210 yards vs. Philly in Week 14. Even without Jon Jansen, the line will be good against the run. Wade, if nothing else, is a big, powerful guy who can drive people back.
8) Are the Redskins ready to win a big road game?
Hard to say. They were loose during the week; having Fred Smoot back helps with that. He livens up the locker room like no other. Jon Jansen's injury showed their confidence level because nobody is panicking about what could happen without him. But winning on the road is about winning things such as the turnover battle and not making the sort of mistakes they made last week. The Redskins likely will need to build more confidence before they spring a big road win. Then again, Cleveland scored 51 points Sunday, so anything is possible.
9) Will Shawn Springs play more?
We say yes, based on Jerry Gray's comments last week and based on the fact that Fred Smoot might not be able to play much with his hamstring injury. The coaches admit they're better when Springs plays so last week doesn't appear to be anything more than coaches looking out for a player possibly hurt. Springs loves to play the drama role well, which helped escalate this supposed ‘'conflict''. Joe Gibbs' inability to fully communicate what was going on didn't help either. Anyway, Springs' return is needed because the Eagles will test Washington deep. Donovan McNabb will see if Sean Taylor still guesses a lot and if Carlos Rogers has really developed. They need a sure thing and that's Springs. McNabb was not accurate last week, but everyone knows there's a big game waiting to happen for him. That's why Springs has to be ready for more action.
10) Will the Redskins win?
I think the Eagles have their share of holes, but the Redskins still have more questions. Will Campbell play better tonight? He has to be more accurate. Will the DL repeat its performance? It has to. But the Eagles are at home; it's a Monday night and they're coming off a tough loss. When healthy, they've been better than Washington for a while. Have the Redskins closed that gap? Not yet. Eagles 21, Redskins 14.
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