Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Defense Vs. Redskins’ Offense

Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Redskins’ offense:

1. The Redskins are averaging 25.1 points per game (11th). Football Outsiders ranks them 14th overall – 18th passing and second rushing. The Eagles are giving up 24.6 points per game (22nd). They are 13th in Football Outsiders’ rankings – 13th against the pass and 14th against the run. Washington has managed just 25 points in the past two games (both losses) against the Panthers and Steelers. The Redskins have lost three in a row and four of their last five. They are coming off a bye. The Eagles have lost five straight. Both teams enter the game with a 3-6 record.

2. With Washington, we must of course start with Robert Griffin III. The second overall pick in last year’s draft is completing 65.6 percent of his passes (eighth) and averaging 7.61 yards per attempt (seventh). He’s thrown eight touchdowns and been intercepted just three times in 262 attempts. Among NFL starters, only Tom Brady is being picked off at a lower rate. The Eagles have just seven interceptions all season (tied for 19th). We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the giveaways. But the Eagles have produced just 10 takeaways. Only three teams in the NFL have fewer.

3. While Griffin has a healthy yards-per-attempt number, that doesn’t mean he’s chucking it downfield a lot. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. According to Pro Football Focus, only 6.9 percent of his attempts have traveled 20 yards or more from the line of scrimmage. That’s the second-lowest percentage in the NFL, ahead of only Christian Ponder. And 189 of Griffin’s 262 attempts, or 72.1 percent, have been within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. The Eagles’ passing defense has been picked apart the last three games, allowing opponents to complete 75.6 percent of their passes. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Tony Romo averaged 8.7 yards per attempt and tossed seven touchdowns without an interception.

4. Eagles players and coaches talked this week about needing to be disciplined. One reason is the Redskins’ use of play-action. Griffin’s run play-action on 36.3 percent of his throws, the highest percentage in the league, per PFF. It’s been incredibly effective too. Griffin’s completing 66.7 percent of his play-action passes and averaging 11.3 yards per attempt (third-highest). The Eagles have been susceptible to play-action all season long. Teams have not had much success blitzing Griffin. According to STATS, Inc., he’s completing 59.6 percent of his passes and averaging 9.1 yards per attempt (5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) against extra pressure. The Eagles had some success blitzing Romo last week. One look had Nnamdi Asomugha rushing the passer.

5. Griffin could have an even higher completion percentage, but the Redskins have dropped 24 of his passes on the season, per PFF. Josh Morgan leads the Redskins with 29 catches and 42 targets. Leonard Hankerson leads the team with 342 receiving yards (41 targets). Griffin spreads the ball around. Washington has four different receivers with 20+ catches and five receivers with at least 200 yards. Eight different receivers have at least two catches of 20+ yards; Hankerson and Santana Moss lead the team with five apiece. Moss leads the team with five touchdown catches; no other receiver has more than one. The Redskins lost tight end Fred Davis (24 catches, 325 yards) to an Achilles injury. Pierre Garcon, who has only played in three games, could return from a foot injury. For the Eagles, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has struggled as of late. He leads all cornerbacks with nine penalties, per PFF.

6. The Redskins are one of the top rushing teams in the league. They average 31.3 runs per game, second-most in the NFC. Their 5.3 yards-per-carry average is second to only the 49ers. And the Redskins have run for 12 touchdowns (second-most). Griffin leads all quarterbacks with 529 rushing yards and is averaging 9.0 yards per attempt. Griffin has three runs of 20+ yards, but has fumbled eight times. Alfred Morris, a rookie sixth-round pick, is seventh in the league with 793 rushing yards. He’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry. The Eagles are allowing 4.2 yards per carry. The last two weeks, the Saints and Cowboys came out and ran all over them early in the game. This week poses a much bigger challenge.

7. The Redskins’ offensive line features Trent Williams (LT), Kory Lichtensteiger (LG), Will Montgomery (center), Chris Chester (RG) and Tyler Polumbus (RT). Williams, the fourth overall pick in 2010, will match up with Trent Cole, who has not produced at his usual level this season. The Redskins have allowed 21 sacks. Jason Babin has one hurry and no sacks in his last three games. Fletcher Cox had his best game as a pass-rusher last week with a sack and six hurries. Rookie Vinny Curry continues to wait for a chance to play. He’s one of two second-round picks yet to see the field this year (the other is 49ers RB LaMichael James).

8. Let’s get back to the theme of staying disciplined against this offense, using an example from the Redskins-Panthers game. Look at how Washington is set up pre-snap.


Eight blockers at the line of scrimmage with Griffin and the running back directly behind him. The Panthers have to respect the run. But Griffin executes a nice play-fake.


You can see Griffin’s back is to the defense as Panthers players react to a possible run. Meanwhile, tight end Logan Paulsen leaks out into his route.


The outside receiver runs a deep out, attracting the only two defenders on that side of the field. Griffin rolls to his left and hits Paulsen for a 12-yard gain.


9. The Eagles will see a lot of Washington’s triple-option attack. That means pressure particularly on the defensive ends. Take a look at this play from the Panthers game.


Griffin fakes the handoff to the tailback and gets pretty much the entire defense going that way.


Again, the key is the defensive end. You can see he’s still attacking the tailback even after Griffin has gotten outside. The Redskins now have a major numbers advantage. There’s one linebacker in the picture. Griffin can either keep it or toss it to the right. The linebacker looks to funnel the play inside where he has help.


Meanwhile, Chris Cooley is out there to block him when he finally does try to attack the ball. The result is a 9-yard gain, as Griffin slides feet-first and avoids contact.

Really good breakdown of the Redskins’ triple option attack right here on HogsHaven.com.

10. The Redskins are 14th in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 53.6 percent of the time. The Eagles are seventh in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 41.4 percent of the time. …The Redskins have been terrible on third down, converting just 28.6 percent of the time (31st). …The Eagles’ third-down defense is eighth, allowing conversions 35.1 percent of the time. …Good job here by Chris Brown of Grantland, explaining how the Redskins have adapted their offense to fit Griffin’s strengths.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

  • defroe81

    The result is a 9-yard gain, as Griffin slides feet-first and avoids contact… feet first too bad our qb cant perform like this… instead head first with concussions is what we get…

  • Cranky Caucasian

    Lots of play-action? Maybe Coleman should not bother wearing his jock strap this week, he’s just going to get faked out of it all day anyway.

  • brian donnelly

    Sheil, When you say that so much depends on our defensive ends it makes me wonder what the scoring record is as I’m sure the Skins will probably score in the 60′s. I don’t think I have a strong enough stomach to watch this game. Its going to be ugly.