1. Tough to get a great feel for Sunday’s game vs. Philly. I know the Eagles are a mess, but I also know they have players at spots who can hurt Washington. I’m not a big fan of this way of thinking, but the Eagles lost by two at Pittsburgh and blew a lead and lost in OT to Detroit. Turnovers have played a big role and their main turnover machine, Michael Vick, is out.
  2. But the Eagles also have a rookie QB playing. I know the 0-8 mark, but that to me is irrelevant considering most of those games occurred under different regimes. I don’t know what to make of Nick Foles; he looked decent in the pocket vs. Dallas. But he also made one foolish throw and was a little off on a couple others. With film on him, the Redskins should be prepared. But Foles has more weapons at his disposal than Robert Griffin III.
  3. I do like Alfred Morris to have a good game. The Eagles have not allowed a 100-yard rusher, but let’s not throw confetti and call them a great run-stopping defense. They allow 4.2 yards per carry and a number of backs have had strong games vs. them – six have gained at least 60 yards and in each case they’ve averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry. The reason no back has rushed for more than 100 yards is that only one back, Atlanta’s Michael Turner, has carried more than 19 times against them.
  4. I wrote about the Eagles’ wide-9 and how it might impact the Redskins’ ground game. But I like Morris’ style vs. this front. The Redskins will run a lot inside and his vision and ability to break tackles will make a difference. This will be a classic game where he’ll have gains of 2, 2, 3,1, 12, 15, 17. There will be highs and lows and, yes, the Redskins know this.
  5. But the zone read option? That will be interesting. The Eagles’ ends only play for the quarterback so it may make that tactic tough. Their ability to get upfield and rush to a point will be countered by the outside zone where the Redskins want to hit a point and then cut upfield. Still, I expect more inside runs anyway.
  6. I like that the Redskins elected Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen captains. Well deserved. I’m not sure who the true leader is in the secondary.
  7. For anyone who thinks reporters only want to write negative stuff: It’s not fun to cover meaningless games in December and consistently have to ask, “Why can’t you win? Are you frustrated? What needs to happen here?”. It gets old. But it still beats working.
  8. I don’t like talking playoff scenarios with teams that are 3-6 and have lost three straight. Sort of a silly rule I have. Win a game or two and then let’s talk.
  9. Pierre Garcon and Brandon Meriweather should provide a boost, but how much of one? Garcon is not 100 percent, but if a guy waits until he’s 100 percent to return he might never come back. He won’t be the first guy to return at less than full strength. Is there a risk involved? From what I understand via NFL sources, he can’t hurt it worse. But I don’t know. Other athletes have played with it – Marshall Faulk, Antonio Gates, O.J. McDuffie. It ended McDuffie’s career; Gates had surgery in 2008 and said it took into the 2010 season before he felt right.
  10. As for Meriweather, he’s never played in this defense during a regular season game. How much rust will he have? His speed will be a plus for a defense that sometimes does not disguise looks as long or as well as they’d like. But Meriweather can’t be viewed as a savior. Tough to look at a guy who was unwanted by his previous two teams that way. A guy who could be/should be an upgrade? Sure.
  11. The Redskins’ secondary needs the pass rush to improve. The Eagles’ reconfigured line could provide the slump-busting group the Redskins need. King Dunlap, who struggled at right tackle last week did not get benched. Nope, he’s now at left tackle. Pittsburgh hurt Philly with a variety of blitzes earlier this season, some through the A gap and a number through the B gaps. It wasn’t always up the middle, but that was also for Michael Vick and not Foles. And Foles’ size should help him even if the Redskins push the pocket. It’s the third straight QB the Redskins have faced who is at least 6-foot-5. They collapsed the pocket at times vs. Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton and it didn’t matter because of their size.
  12. To say that Kyle Shanahan has a passion for play-calling is an understatement. I’ll have more of that in my email report next week (taking a look at how game plans get put together), but one thing jumped out: He talked about how he used to be in love with the pass, but now feels that way about the run.
  13. It’s time for Brandon Banks to make a play.
  14. It’s time for Jarvis Jenkins to get more pressure.
  15. I think saying it’s time for someone to do something could result in a long list.
  16. Last season the Redskins used Josh Wilson a lot on DeSean Jackson, though they used a heavy mix of man and zone in the season finale. Jackson has averaged 21 yards per catch the past four games vs. Washington (on 12 receptions).
  17. From what I’ve read and heard, the Eagles’ locker room is rather loose this week. What does that mean? I don’t know because the Redskins has been the same way. It’s a loose group. There’s more pressure, I think, on the Eagles just because of the implications for coach Andy Reid. But at some point, and perhaps soon, that pressure will be felt by Mike Shanahan if this losing continues. People whose opinions I respect, and who have been involved in the NFL for a long time, say Shanahan should return next season. But I think when people say that they’re assuming the Redskins will win a few more games.
  18. Done.