The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Washington
Here’s a look at how the Eagles match up with Washington.
WHEN THE EAGLES RUN…
The Birds have failed to reach any kind of consistency with their running game all season long. LeSean McCoy has carried 274 times for 1,132 yards (4.1 YPC). The offense had some chances last week against the Cowboys, but after the Eagles got down by 21 points early, McCoy carried just 16 times for 64 yards.
Chris Polk had a couple carries for 6 yards, but he scored on both of them. Darren Sproles has seven carries for a total of 5 yards in the last two games.
Up front, right guard Andrew Gardner has struggled, and right tackle Lane Johnson has not made a significant leap from Year 1 to Year 2. Jason Kelce has admitted he’s not playing at the same level he was at in 2013. Jason Peters and Evan Mathis continue to be the strength of the offensive line on the left side.
Overall, the Eagles rank 21st in rushing DVOA, per Football Outsiders.
Washington very well could be without its top defensive lineman in Jason Hatcher. It will rotate guys like Chris Baker, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins and Barry Cofield up front. Ryan Kerrigan is one outside linebacker, and rookie Trent Murphy replaces an injured Brian Orakpo at the other OLB spot.
Inside linebacker Keenan Robinson had a great game against the Eagles earlier this season, but he’s been bothered by a knee injury and might not play.
The Eagles managed just 54 yards on 24 carries (2.2 YPC) in the first matchup against Washington. And overall, Jim Haslett’s unit has been good against the run, ranking ninth in DVOA.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASS…
It’s weakness on weakness here. Washington ranks dead-last in passing DVOA, while the Eagles’ offense ranks 21st.
Mark Sanchez has struggled to push the ball downfield. He attempted two passes of 20+ yards last week, and both were incomplete. Sanchez has also had a problem with turnovers. His 4.0 percent interception rate is fifth-worst among quarterbacks who have attempted at least 100 passes.
Sanchez has completed 61.9 percent of his passes (21st) and averaged 7.86 yards per attempt (seventh). He’s thrown 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions, ranking 23rd in passer rating (84.5).
Jeremy Maclin has had a monster season with 78 catches for 1,207 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had eight catches for 154 yards in the first matchup against Washington. Jordan Matthews (56 catches, 709 yards, seven TDs) has played well, but he was held without a catch last week against Dallas. Riley Cooper is averaging 34.8 receiving yards per game and 10.1 yards per catch. Josh Huff flashed with a 44-yard catch and run against the Cowboys.
Washington is young at corner with second-year player David Amerson and rookie Bashaud Breeland. There’s not a lot of talent at the safety spot with veteran Ryan Clark and Phillip Thomas. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 31 touchdowns and five interceptions against Washington. Its 109.9 opponents’ passer rating is the worst in the league.
Sanchez gets rid of the ball quickly, and the Eagles have held up well for the most part in pass protection.
Washington is 13th in adjusted sack rate and will bring the blitz. Ryan Kerrigan has 12.5 sacks on the season and could give Johnson and Gardner problems.
WHEN WASHINGTON RUNS…
Alfred Morris is averaging 4.1 YPC and has totaled 948 yards. The Eagles handled him in the first game, limiting Morris to 77 yards on 23 carries (3.3 YPC).
The difference in this matchup is that the Eagles will have to worry about the quarterback running. Robert Griffin III picked up 46 yards on five carries last week.
“Is he athletic?” said Chip Kelly. “Yeah. And if you sleep on that guy, trust me, you guys will be sitting here after the game going, ‘Boy, he went for a hundred yards against you, how did that happen?’
“That kid is athletic as heck and he can run really, really well. Trust me, we have to understand where he is on every single play.”
The Eagles’ run defense has been good all season, and it starts with the guys up front. Fletcher Cox has played at a Pro Bowl level and has looked downright un-blockable at times. Cedric Thornton has been consistent all season long, but has played especially well recently. And Bennie Logan has been really good at nose tackle.
Last week was not Mychal Kendricks’ best outing, but he’s played well overall. Brandon Graham will get the start at ROLB in place of Trent Cole (hand injury).
Washington’s defense ranks 22nd in rushing DVOA, while the Eagles’ defense ranks sixth.
WHEN WASHINGTON PASSES…
Griffin went 18-for-27 for 236 yards and a touchdown last week against the Giants. On the season, he’s completed 69.3 percent of his passes and averaged 7.6 YPA. Griffin has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Eagles got lit up for 427 yards and three touchdowns against Kirk Cousins in the first meeting. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson combined for 16 catches on 27 targets in that game. They torched the Eagles for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
On the season, Jackson has totaled 957 yards and five touchdowns; he leads the NFL in yards per catch (19.1). Garcon is more of a volume guy and leads Washington in catches (62) and targets (95).
Bradley Fletcher obviously struggled last week, and Cary Williams did not play well either. Nate Allen will give up his share of completions, while Malcolm Jenkins has been solid for the most part.
Griffin was sacked seven times last week against the Giants. Washington ranks 30th overall in adjusted sack rate and has struggled in protection all season long. Talented left tackle Trent Williams left last week’s game with a shoulder injury. He did not participate in practice Wednesday and was limited on Thursday.
The Eagles should have a huge advantage with their pass-rush. The Birds are eighth in adjusted sack rate and have been able to get after opposing quarterbacks on most weeks. Connor Barwin is up to 14.5 sacks on the season, and Vinny Curry has nine. Look for Graham to have a big game, especially if Williams is out. He’s been making the most of his opportunities all season long.