Eagles Wake-Up Call: Leftovers From D.C.
Some notes from my time at the Redskins facility Wednesday:
— Washington running back Roy Helu was in the middle of a media scrum when he was asked about the prowess of Chip Kelly‘s high-powered, up-tempo attack and the problems it causes for the opposition.
“You know I play offense, right?” he responded, drawing laughs.
Outside of the obvious DeSean Jackson angle, many of the questions directed at the Redskins Wednesday were about the dangers that the 2-0 Eagles present. The players weren’t exactly going out of their way to pump the opposition up any more than the national media already has.
Washington is coming off a 41-10 win over the Jaguars in which they were able to sack Chad Henne 10 times. The Eagles, meanwhile, got to Henne three times in a come-from-behind 34-17 win over the Jags in Week 1. They rallied against the Colts as well to pull out a last-second 30-27 win. Or, as safety Duke Ihenacho put it:
“They stole one. I think they stole one. They got out of there with a win. Kudos to them.”
The Eagles head into their Week 3 division matchup boasting the top-ranked offense in the NFL. A lesser-known fact is that the Redskins have the top-rated defense in the league when it comes to yards allowed, and are fourth in points against (13.5 ppg.) through two games. The 1-1 Redskins feel like they can stand toe-to-toe.
“This week we have a great opportunity to play a team that has a lot of pub and everybody’s been congratulating them for the things they’ve done good,” said Jackson, “and hopefully we can go out there and exploit them and win the football game.”
— LeSean McCoy effortlessly broke the ice when he started his conference call with Washington reporters by saying: “Hey, uh, this is DeSean Jackson. How you guys doing?”
He knew what line of questioning was coming and spent the next 10 minutes really talking up Jackson, calling him a “great teammate” and lauding his on-field production. There seems to be no doubt in McCoy’s mind that Jackson will be on the field Sunday.
“I don’t need the coaches to tell me he’s going to play. I know him. I know what this game means to him. I’m sure he’ll play this game. We’re scouting for him,” he said.
“He’s looking to come in here and put a show on, so we have to do the same on the other side.”
— Whatever locker room issues Jackson may have created in Philly, Redskins players and coaches insist it has not carried over.
“He’s been great,” said head coach Jay Gruden. “He’s shown a lot. He hasn’t been an issue, hasn’t been a problem as far as being late, as far as any personal problems. He comes out to practice, works hard. I don’t have any problem with him. I don’t know what the issue was in Philly, I can’t speak on Philly, but ever since he’s walked through those doors he’s been fine with the players and with me.”
Clifton Geathers has played with Jackson in both Philly and D.C., and says there is no noticeable difference in the way the receiver is carrying himself.
“Being able to come to Washington and play for the Redskins, since Day 1 since I stepped in here with this organization, myself, I didn’t really change,” he said. “They accepted me for who I was. I didn’t really have to prove anything because they knew what type of player and person I was. That was the best reason that I chose to play here in Washington.”
Gruden says he believes he has the right locker room to handle any issues that may arise. To this point, that hasn’t been tested.
“The more [leaders] you have, the less you worry about somebody like DeSean who has a bad reputation,” said Gruden. “But none of those bad reputation things have followed him. He’s been fine with us. On time, works hard, prepares hard. He’s a fun guy to be around…every now and then.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Mychal Kendricks misses practice and is labeled day-to-day.
Due to Kendricks’ injury, first round pick Marcus Smith II is practicing at inside linebacker.
DeSean Jackson is eyeing his return to Philadelphia.
Sheil breaks down the Eagles’ offense against the Colts.
And here’s his breakdown of the defense.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Bill Barnwell from Grantland writes about Darren Sproles.
Sproles is certainly benefiting from playing in a great offense — as he has for virtually an entire career — but he also makes the offenses around him better. It’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have been worth a fourth-round pick to a team that could use a third-down weapon with big-play ability, with teams like Atlanta, Baltimore, and even Denver coming to mind. How could a player so impactful fall through the cracks?
By virtue of his archetype, of course. The pass-catching running back is an undervalued asset in football, a player who often spends his career moving around the league and reestablishing himself as a worthwhile talent in each stop.
Paul Domowitch of the Daily News writes about the change in dynamics at wide receiver.
Last season, when Jackson was on his way to his best pro season and rookie tight end Zach Ertz still was trying to get his arms around Kelly’s offense, and Darren Sproles still was employed by the New Orleans Saints, Jackson and the team’s other wideouts were the main focus of the passing game.
They were targeted on 61 percent of the Eagles’ pass attempts. They had 56.4 percent of the receptions, 61.7 percent of the receiving yards, 62.5 percent of the touchdown catches.
They also were responsible for 63.3 percent of the team’s receiving first downs and 58.8 percent of its third-down receptions.
In the first two games this season, almost all of those numbers have dropped dramatically. The wideouts have been targeted on only 48 percent of Foles’ attempts. They have only 32.7 percent of the team’s receptions and 37.5 percent of the receiving yards.
We’ll speak with Kelly prior to the Eagles’ 11:55 a.m. practice.