1. We asked: How will the replacements do?
We thought the Eagles would try to exploit both matchups and worried about Todd Wade's rust as well as Demetric Evans size mismatch against Jon Runyan. Both players did very well. I don't remember Wade ever looking either rusty or overwhelmed. Granted, he's a vet and that accounts for a lot. But he looked solid. Evans did a nice job and the Eagles did not do much damage running his way. What we didn't count on was another replacement -- Jason Fabini. OK, he had the false starts, but aside from that he was solid while playing out of position. The Redskins will have to find another guard, but he showed that he still could help.
2. We asked: What does Jason need to do?
We said he had to be more careful about where he looks and to stop eyeing receivers. Lo and behold, that's what he did on his first interception. He has a tendency to do that way too much. But we were impressed with his poise. Yes, he missed some throws but he made some big plays with his arm and his legs. What continues to impress about the kid is his poise and how bad plays don't rattle him. Guess that's why the kid has always won. The pass to Chris Cooley was beautiful, showing Campbell has touch and power.
3. We asked: Has the defense really turned it around?
We said we'll get a better idea of that tonight. A bad game would not have meant gloom and doom. But another good one would be a major sign of growth. And that's what we saw. Now, first things first: Donovan McNabb looked very, very off with his rhythm and timing in the passing game. It's not because he has bad receivers; it's because he's off. That's the way it is. But the Redskins' D did an excellent job of limiting big plays and forcing the Eagles to be more patient than desired. McNabb is not the most accurate passer; make him become one. That's what they did and it worked, especially in the red zone. The defense is confident. And it will continue to carry this team.
4. We asked: How will the D-line fare?
Despite good interior Eagles' play, I wasn't worried about the Redskins DTs, but I was concerned about the ends. Philly hurt Washington running to its left side and off the edge. But overall the line did a decent job and applied enough pressure. Cornelius Griffin continued his good start. It would be nice if Anthony Montgomery made a couple plays, but he's doing a good enough job of occupying space.
5. We asked: Are the Eagles' special teams problems fixed?
We didn't think the signing of Reno Mahe would solve all their woes. The funniest sight was to see the Eagles give him a standing ovation after fielding one punt cleanly. But it was the Redskins who had a botched punt return, though Antwaan Randle El recovered his own mistake.
6. We asked: Can the Redskins get the ball to Chris Cooley?
In the past four games against Philly, he'd caught 16 passes for 178 yards and no touchdowns. We thought he would be a factor. He was, with two catches for 25 yards, including a 16-yarder for a score. However, he dropped one ball that would have resulted in a long completion and he and Campbell could not connect on a few other occasions. Cooley's blocking was better than last week.
7. We asked: Will the Redskins have success on the ground?
We thought they would and they sort of did. Actually, they had enough success to help as Clinton Portis rushed for 69 yards on 17 carries, including 45 yards on 8 carries in the second half. He ran through a linebacker's hands on his six-yard TD run in the fourth quarter for a 20-9 lead. The line remains able to block and the more big plays they hit in the passing game, the better they will run.
8. We asked: Are the Redskins ready to win a big road game?
We thought it was hard to say and leaned toward no, thinking they would need to show a little more and then spring a big road win later. Their confidence has been evident and they've done a better job since camp opened of finding ways to win. And a good defense can help any team on the road. Still, we were wrong about this one. Like Fonzie, that's a tough word to use for us.
9. We asked: Will Shawn Springs play more?
We said yes, and not just because of Fred Smoot's hamstring injury that left him inactive. Springs played a good game, with three tackles and one pass defensed. His presence automatically meant the Redskins had one corner capable of covering anyone. He also played through cramps.
10. We asked: Will the Redskins win?
Um, what was that word we used two answers earlier? Wrong? Hard to say again. But very true as we thought the Eagles would win 21-14. I overestimated where the Eagles were at and underestimated the Redskins.
I love this linebacking unit and Marcus Washington had his best game since camp opened. That group is clearly the heart and soul of the defense. And the resiliency of the offense showed in how well Wade and Fabini held it down on the right side.
Can they do it for 14 more games? Who knows. But they did it for one. This is a huge win for obvious reasons and a 3-0 start is staring them in the face with the Giants coming to town. They could overcome a loss to New York, but if they want to contend, these are must-win games.
Yes, it's early and problems could develop, but after Monday night, they have to think of themselves differently. Or, rather, we do.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins 20, Eagles 12
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