February 26, 2020

Washington Redskins Game 4 Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

The Washington Redskins, weather permitting, are scheduled to face their first division foe of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles, at FedEx Field this Sunday. Both teams enter this game looking to get to the .500 mark for the first time this season. Philadelphia looks to build off of a 24-17 win in New York vs. the Jets, while the Redskins try to erase the memory of a 32-21 loss to the Giants on Thursday Night Football.

The last time the Redskins faced the Eagles at home was Week 16 of last year, when they beat them in a 27-24 thriller, a rare bright spot in an awful 2014 campaign. The Redskins look to duplicate that success against an Eagles offense that looks very different from 2014. Sam Bradford is now the starting QB for coach Chip Kelly rather than Nick Foles/Mark Sanchez, and RBs DeMarco Murray Ryan Matthews join the party in place of LeSean McCoy. The Eagles will stick to the classic Chip Kelly offensive scheme, just with different personnel than the Redskins are accustomed.

Washington has their fair share of injuries headed into the game, most notably that of the former Eagle, DeSean Jackson. Jaccpot loves playing his former team but will not get the opportunity because of the hamstring injury he aggravated Week 1. LG Shawn Lauvao was also placed on IR this week because of an injured ankle, which is a huge loss for an offensive line that was paving the way for a high-powered running attack. In addition, starting CB Chris Culliver is now questionable for the game with knee soreness, potentially depleting a secondary that has already lost CB DeAngelo Hall and SS Duke Ihenacho.

The Redskins will look to dictate the pace in front of the home crowd and avoid falling behind like they did vs. New York last Thursday. If the weather is as bad as it’s hyped up to be, they will need to establish the run game, eat up time of possession, and take care of the football. Coming from behind is simply not an option for this team, and they must avoid third and long situations.

Joe Barry’s 3-4 defense has received a lot more praise than most expected in the offseason, but they must rush the passer more effectively than they did against New York to keep Sam Bradford uncomfortable. The Chip Kelly passing attack will be somewhat slowed down by the rain, but the Eagles have plenty of talented backs with the ability to pick up the slack. This game will be, in old-fashioned football terms, a “slobber knocker”.

Key Matchups

Hurricane Joaquin vs. Both Teams

Hurrican Joaquin will make as big a difference as any players out there on Sunday. If there are heavy winds and inches of rain out there on the field, Redskins fans know all too well that FedEx Field will become a slippery, gross mud pit. Both teams will be trying to take care of the football and establish their running game, and try their best not to turn the ball over.

Kirk Cousins has to stay calm in the pocket and let his big bruisers in the backfield and up front do most of the work. Any throws he makes should be off of play action to reliable possession receivers like Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon. Bar none, when the Redskins turn the ball over, they lose. It’s as simple as that, and avoiding these turnovers is the only way to win this ball game.

Redskins Special Teams vs. Eagles Special Teams

The Redskins once again had an interesting night on Special Teams vs. the Giants, with a blocked punt-turned-safety early on in the game, as well as a Rashad Ross 101-yd kickoff return at the end of the game. Washington has been crushed by special teams in their 2 losses this year and must make every effort to contain the Eagles’ speedy return man, Darren Sproles. Sproles had a punt return TD of his own against the Jets last week.

On the Eagles’ side, they have some issues in the kicking game, with original starter Cody Parkey now on IR. Stepping in his place is Caleb Sturgis, a decidedly average kicker who was released by the Dolphins last year. The Redskins have been satisfied with their new placekicker, Dustin Hopkins, who has gone 3-3 in two games since replacing Kai Forbath. With the conditions slick, look for the team with the better kicking and return games to have a huge advantage.

Redskins’ “Stud” of the Game

RB Matt Jones

Matt Jones has been the undisputed breakout star for the Redskins this week, and has a real opportunity to shine on Sunday. While he has impressed with his physical, explosive running style, the one knock on Jones thus far is his two lost fumbles in the last two games. If he can run like he has been without turning the ball over, he may just win himself a starting RB gig in the NFL. Look for him to get the ball early and often behind big Trent Williams on the left side.

Staff Predictions

Neil Dalal: Redskins 13, Eagles 27

The Redskins looked bad against a not great Giants team. Now without their starting left guard and thin at the corner back position, they have their work cut out for them. Unless the defense finally come up with some turnovers and/or Cousins has an exceptional game (likely without Desean Jackson) this one will not be close.

Seamus Kane: Redskins 14, Eagles 17

Avert your eyes, people! This is going to be ugly, and I think the more talented Eagles team finds a way to win it, either with a Cousins turnover or a special teams play, and avenges last December’s loss.

Dave Nichols: Eagles 30, Redskins 14

Despite a sluggish start, the Eagles just have too much talent on both sides of the ball — and special teams — for the Redskins to compete this week. The Skins’ only hope is that the weather makes the field so sloggy that the only strategy is for straight-ahead power football, the one aspect where the Redskins might hope to better the Eagles. Still, another tough one for the home team.

About Seamus Kane

Seamus Kane is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Wizards. A native of Silver Spring, MD, Seamus grew up in the area all his life rooting for the Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, Caps, and Terps. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2014 with a degree in American History and now lives in Washington, DC. His favorite DC sports legend is Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, and his favorite DC sports moment was Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off in the first-ever game at Nationals Park, a game which he attended. You can follow Seamus on Twitter @ShamelessKane

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