Washington’s biggest concern as they head into the final quarter of the season is their inability to stop opposing offenses. That hasn’t changed, especially after last week’s loss to Arizona. The defense’s inability to get stops has put added pressure on the offense to be perfect or at least very close to it. If the Redskins wish to regain that sixth seed, which would clinch a Wild Card berth in the postseason, they have to win at least three of their next four games. There are two tough matchups in the Panthers and Giants, but first the Redskins have to take care of a reeling Philadelphia Eagles team. While it’s easy to overlook an Eagles team that is on a three-game losing streak, a quick reminder that this is a division game. Anything is possible, the Eagles are also looking at this opportunity to extend Washington’s current two game losing streak.
The biggest factor in Philadelphia’s struggles have been the inability to move the ball and score. Since their bye week in Week 4, the Eagles are 2-7 in their last nine games averaging 19 points per game while surrendering 27 points per game. Their rookie quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start early in the season, but has hit a wall some few weeks back as he and his offensive unit seemingly lacks chemistry and playmakers. Wentz’s unit has had a turnover in seven consecutive games, averaging two turnovers per contest. His receiving corps has consistently dropped passes, and their first round pick of 2015 Nelson Agholor was benched and made inactive for that very reason against the Green Bay Packers. Just like last week, a down offense awaits the Washington Redskins as they must take advantage of a team who is struggling to overcome their issues.
The Redskins defense is much worse than their season statistics show. Three key categories that determine a solid defense is third down defense, redzone defense, and turnovers. It is very difficult for Washington to create turnovers, without the defense being able to get them, they have given up third down conversions from nearly any distance on the field. While allowing touchdowns at a staggering percentage in the redzone this year. They lack speed defensively and fail to create pressure consistently, even though they are a defense that is top 10 in sacks this year. There has been nobody on the defense this year that has been able to make “the winning play” or overall as a unit been able to close out games. The key to success against the Eagles is putting the ball in Wentz’s hands and shutting down the Eagles rushing attack that ranks tenth in the league. If the defense is unable to put consistent pressure on Wentz (who has the ability to get out of the pocket and use his feet) or force turnovers, odds are this is another high scoring game for Washington.
Speaking of high scoring, the Washington offense has been an issue in their own way, because they are faced with a weekly task of having to score at least 28 points per game in order to win games. Their last five opponents averaged 27 points per game and 30 minute time of possession. It is evident that at this point in the season the Redskins have little to no room for error. As they know they can’t count on their defense to bail them out consistently after a turnover or short drive. Left tackle Trent Williams comes back this week, he’s arguably the Redskins best offensive player and with him back Robert Kelley has a chance to have a big day on the ground. Jay Gruden stated this week that he wants Robert Kelley to be more involved in the offense, but has often said such things in the past while continuing to neglect the run game. Kelley had a very good outing against the Cardinals in his limited amount of carries and the rushing attack of Washington will be the reason the Redskins beat Philadelphia this week if they choose to commit to it.