Redskins vs. Eagles: What to Watch
Here are my keys to the game and what to watch for in the Redskins vs. Eagles Monday Night divisional showdown:
1. How will Robert Griffin III play in his first game action?
Not many quarterbacks step into week one without taking a single preseason snap but Griffin will do that on Monday. Griffin did not get much preseason action as a rookie and played tremendous week one in New Orleans. Much like the Saints, the Eagles come to DC with a defense many think will struggle. I am not really concerned with Griffin’s lack of game action and think he will do just fine.
It will be interesting to see the game plan used and more importantly the decisions Griffin makes with the ball to protect himself better. I think Washington will run the same offense that was highly effective in 2012 with the read-option, pistol, etc. But will Griffin play smarter? That is a huge question we will have to wait and see.
2. To me one of the biggest matchups on Monday night will be Ryan Kerrigan facing off versus Eagles rookie Lane Johnson.
Johnson was highly drafted and to no one’s surprise will be put right into the lineup by Chip Kelly. It will be interesting to see how Johnson plays after darting up draft boards in April to go 4th overall. Many see him as a perfect fit for Kelly. With three offensive tackles in the top four picks, odds have to be that at least one ends up not being the dominant tackle their team expected.
As for Kerrigan, this is a huge game. Everything is in his favor to have a monster season and Monday night would be a good time to start. His buddy Brian Orakpo will once again line up on the other side from him. The preseason showed some interesting wrinkles added to the Redskins pass rush as Jim Haslett used Kerrigan, Orakpo and rookie Brandon Jenkins effectively to get pressure. I would expect that to continue versus the Eagles. Although Orakpo is the one in the contract year, it would be nice for Kerrigan to get off to a quick start.
3. Last season Washington gave up way too many big plays on defense. And everyone remembers what Mike Vick did to them last time they played Monday night at Fedex. So it will be a must that the Redskins limit and prevent this from happening again.
For starters, Laron Landry isn’t there to start crap before the game thankfully. The Eagles suffered a huge loss when Jeremy Maclin went down with an ACL but DeSean Jackson is still there. Even though he fears going over the middle near London Fletcher, he can still get behind defenses.
With Brandon Meriweather a huge question mark due to health, the Redskins will be putting a lot on rookie Bacarri Rambo. Even though the Eagles have major questions at receiver without Maclin, Washington still has major questions with their cover guys heading into week one. What will help? The pass rush we discussed in #2. Vick struggled last season but so far has got solid reviews running Kelly’s offense. Washington has to do what they did last season and force turnovers on Vick.
4. Speaking of turnovers Washington thrived in that category in 2012 and hopes to continue that into 2013.
What Griffin did last season was remarkable only throwing 5 interceptions in the 15 games he played in. I don’t think he gets enough credit here even if a lot of the passes were short. Then again I believe he did lead the league in yards per attempt. But, the Skins must not turn it over and give the Eagles a chance. Tyler Polumbus cannot be a turnstile at right tackle. Hankerson and Robinson cannot have drops. And new punt returner Chris Thompson has to protect the football first before looking for the big return.
Success in 2013 starts by winning the turnover battle each week. It worked last season and will this one. Although they won the turnover battle, the penalty situation is a different story. Washington continued to pile up penalties and many were of the 15 yard kind. This needs to stop. We are not the Detroit Lions.
5. Simple one. Make Fedex Field the home advantage it was down the stretch in 2012.
This needs to keep up this season. Even though the air was taken out of the stadium when RG3 went down at the 5 versus the Seahawks, I expect the crowd to be back Monday night going strong. It will be nice to send the Eagles fans wearing their Mamula and Freddie Mitchell jerseys back up 95 losers.