A Redskins win on Monday Night Football would bring them to within a game of the top of the NFC East. But beating the Eagles won’t be easy. Here’ s five things Washington must do to beat the Eagles.
1. Protect Donovan McNabb
McNabb has spent more time alluding pass rushers than looking downfield lately. Washington’s given up 17 sacks in its last 4 games and the Eagles have tallied at least a sack in 27 consecutive contests. That’s the second longest streak in the NFL behind Pittsburgh. If McNabb’s not upright and able to survey Philadelphia’s defense, the Redskins will be in big trouble.
2. Collapse the Pocket on Vick
Brian Orakpo has gotten consistent pressure from his outside linebacking position. He’s a safe bet to add to his season sack count (7 through 8 games). But he ne needs help collapsing the pocket, namely from Albert Haynesworth and Washington’s interior. If you just get pressure off the edge’s against Mike Vick, he takes off between the tackles for big gains on the ground. The bulk of the Redskins’ pressure has to come from the middle of Washington’s defense.
3. Feed Ryan Torain
The Eagles have done a much better job against the run in recent weeks. It’s been more than a month since a rusher got anywhere near 100 yards against the Eagles’ defense. But that doesn’t mean you can’t run the ball on Philadelphia, or that you shouldn’t. The Redskins were more physical than the Eagles in the first meeting and Torain sealed Washington’s win with 31 tough yards on Washington’s final drive. He, and the Redskins’ front, wore Philly down. They’ll have to do the same thing tonight.
4. Hit DeSean Jackson
Like the quarterback throwing him the football, DeSean Jackson is a guy you can rattle with a big hit. Back in Week-4, Jackson was quiet against the Redskins because Carlos Rogers, DeAngelo Hall and Phillip Buchanon played a physical brand of coverage. They jammed him at the line, knocked him off his routes and pressed him throughout the game. He doesn’t respond well to that. You have to hit Jackson early. He seems like the kind of guy who remembers a big shot.
5. Make a Special Play on Teams
With Brandon Banks likely out, this won’t be easy. Chad Simpson and Buchanon will likely be asked to handle the bulk of the kick and punt returning duties for Washington in Banks’ absence. One of them has to make a play. It doesn’t have to be a touchdown, just something to change the field position game into Washington’s favor. Something to get the crowd fired up. Expect to see Santana Moss or DeAngelo Hall get a chance to return a punt, too.