Wake-Up Call: Eagles Can’t Sleep on RGIII

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today

You won’t find many pundits backing Washington this week. The Eagles have too much to play for and the Redskins are too much of a mess to not lean towards Philly in this one. That sentiment is reflected in the line, with Vegas making the Eagles 7 ½ -point road favorites.

If there is one variable that has the best chance of knocking this game off course, it’s quarterback play. That is, if Robert Griffin III shines and Mark Sanchez falters, the Eagles could leave FedEx Field with their playoff hopes all but crushed.

The latter is certainly possible. We’ve seen some good out of Sanchez and some bad, and it hasn’t been great of late. In losses to Dallas and Seattle the last two weeks, Sanchez went a combined 27-of-48 (56 percent) for 348 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He has thrown multiple picks in four of the seven games he has played in.

Griffin hasn’t exactly lit it up, either. Jay Gruden benched the former No. 2 overall pick in late November in favor of Colt McCoy. “I hope it helps toughen him up, it helps fuel a fire in his belly,” Gruden said at the time.

RGIII finds himself back under center after McCoy suffered a neck injury last week against the Giants. Griffin showed some flashes of his old self in his relief appearance versus New York and finished 18-of-27 (67 percent) for 236 yards and a touchdown in a 24-13 loss. He also rushed five times for a season-high 46 yards.

“He’s still a dynamic player,” said Billy Davis of Griffin, who has a career quarterback rating of 101.4 (10 TDS, 4 INTs) against the Eagles. “He really looked like he benefitted from a little bit of perspective in taking a step back and looking at it. He came out there with a little more confidence and that old swagger you saw. He ran the ball more aggressively, he put the ball on the money, he threw the ball a little more accurately, and it looked like he had a better understanding. So, I think he has gained a little bit of perspective from sitting back and watching for a little bit.”

Added Chip Kelly: “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.”

After watching the tape of Griffin against the Giants, Brandon Graham came away thinking: “He looked good. We’re going to have to come to play.” And that’s really it. Washington is 3-11 for a reason. The Eagles should be able to impose their will on the Redskins. But they’re not good enough to take this team – or this quarterback – lightly.

“I want to go out and make sure I lead these guys and show them there’s no quit,” said Griffin. “No matter what your record is, no matter if you’re out of the playoffs or not, when you get a chance to put on that helmet and play a football game, the game that you love, you have to come with it. I’m going to make sure I do that and I know the guys around me are going to do the same.”


Sheil breaks down the Eagles-Redskins matchup.

A lost season for Brandon BoykinThe corner gives his take. 

Video shows that special teams coach Dave Fipp warned that the opening kick would be short. 

A much-too-early ESPN mock draft has the Eagles going corner in the first round.

LeSean McCoy talks about what an Eagles offense that featured both DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin might look like.


McCoy on what Chris Polk is bringing to the table, from Reuben Frank. 

“Some of the short-yardage stuff, Polk’s obviously a little bit more powerful back, so they’ve been giving him some of the runs in short-yardage in a couple games, especially last game,” McCoy said.

“He’s not getting all of them, but if it helps the team, that’s what I’m going to do.

“There’s just some plays on 3rd-and-1 type of situations where I probably wouldn’t have gotten it, where I see him kind of hit a guy, drag a guy and get in there. It’s hard to be selfish with a player like Polk to use him to do those type of things.”

Bob Ford on how the extraordinary amount of return TDs this season have propped up the Eagles.

Without knowing the identity of the team, if you saw one that was ranked 25th in red-zone offense, 26th in red-zone defense, and tied for 25th in turnovers vs. takeaways, it would be hard to understand how that team could be 9-5 right now and favored to finish with 11 wins. (Just to use the turnover deficit as an example, the Eagles are minus-8 in that category. The other seven teams that are as bad or worse are the 2-12 Titans, Jags, Bucs, and Raiders; the 3-11 Jets and Redskins; and the 5-9 Bears.)

The Eagles didn’t overcome those problems with mirrors. They won – even with a tattered offensive line, instability at the quarterback position, and an occasionally porous defense – because they were able to score points in ways that can never be counted on; predicted; or, unfortunately, sustained at the same rate.


We’ll give our predictions for Eagles-Redskins.