PHILADELPHIA (CBSDC/AP) — Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense that made a big splash in his coaching debut might be even better now.
That’s bad news for the Washington Redskins, who get a second crack at trying to slow down the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at the Linc.
The Eagles (5-5) started the season with an impressive 33-27 win at Washington that raised expectations in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. They followed it with three straight losses, but Nick Foles has them back on track.
Foles has thrown 10 touchdown passes in consecutive victories at Oakland and Green Bay. Now if the Eagles can just find a way to win at home they could win a mediocre NFC East. They’ve lost a franchise-record 10 straight games in Philly.
Meanwhile, the Redskins (3-6) are looking to turn things around the same way they did last year. They were 3-6 at this point in 2012 before beating the Eagles to start a seven-game winning streak that gave them their first division title since 1999.
“You have to win games you’re supposed to win and we’re going to have to win some games we’re not supposed to win. It’s always a must-win,” Redskins safety Reed Doughty said.
Robert Griffin III looked rusty in his first appearance following major knee surgery in the season opener against the Eagles. He’s playing better now, though he’s still not the 2012 version of RG3.
“You can see more mobility from him,” Philadelphia defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. “I think the coaches kind of find what they can do with him and without him coming off that knee injury in this first year. I think they’ve grown their package, and he looks a lot more mobile than he was in the first game.”
Here are five things to watch for when the Redskins visit the Eagles on Sunday:
WHERE’S THE RUSH?: After getting 15 sacks in the first four games, the Redskins have only seven in the last five games. Perhaps facing Foles instead of the elusive Michael Vick will help the Redskins this week. They sacked Foles nine times in two games last year.
“We’ve played a lot of mobile quarterbacks this year,” said Ryan Kerrigan, who has a team-high 6½ sacks. “I think we have had to rely too much on blitzes to get pressure and you don’t want to do that. You want to be able to get pressure with your down four.”
GROUND GAMES: The Eagles lead the NFL in yards rushing (1,535) and yards per carry (5.06). The Redskins are fourth in yards (1,361) and second in yards per carry (5.05). Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy leads the league with 932 yards rushing, while Washington’s Alfred Morris is third with 825. So expect to see them run plenty, right? Well, both teams are in the top 10 in passing.
“A lot has changed since Game 1,” said McCoy, who had 184 yards rushing in the opener. “We don’t really look at that game and think we’re going to have the same results. I’m curious to see how they play us and what type of different stunts they pull.”
D-JACK VS. D-HALL: Riley Cooper catching five TD passes in the past two games only makes DeSean Jackson tougher to cover because defenses now have to focus on both wide receivers. Jackson has 23 catches for 320 yards and two TDs in four division games this year. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall gets the coverage assignment.
“It’s about executing, getting down to the fundamentals, tackling, doing the little things that we’ve been doing since we were little kids to be successful in football,” Hall said.
NO SCORE ZONE: Opponents have scored just two touchdowns in the last 10 trips inside Philadelphia’s red zone, a significant improvement for a defense that has played well after an awful first month.
“Bend but don’t break,” safety Patrick Chung said. “When we get down there, you just have to build a wall. We take pride in that. If they even get there, we want zero, but keeping them to three is good.”
INJURY WATCH: The Eagles could be missing three defensive starters. Rookie safety Earl Wolff is out with a knee injury. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks has a knee injury and cornerback Bradley Fletcher didn’t play last week because of a pectoral injury. Also, five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters (quadriceps, pectoral), tight end Brent Celek (hip) and special teams player Jake Knott (hamstring) are iffy.
Meanwhile, the Redskins are quite healthy.
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