The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive front is active. Watching them on film, they love doing games and stunts and will do so in any situation – they’re concern is getting to the quarterback and making plays behind the line. So there will be stunts on run plays as well. The Washington Redskins say few, if any, defensive fronts run more games. That’s why one player thought that, even though linebacker Mychal Kendricks is a good player and looks like he'll miss the game, the key to the defense is up front, notably Fletcher Cox. It also puts more of a burden on the center who has to adjust to all these looks (and, yes, the quarterback who must know what’s coming as well). They also will send both linebackers on various blitzes as well, sometimes on stunts and sometimes on rushes through the same gap. If the Redskins catch them on the right stunt, big runs will follow. The Colts hurt this group on the ground with numerous counters; the Redskins' zone game -- and Alfred Morris' ability to get them to overpursue -- can hurt them, though there will be some stunts into gaps that will lead to losses. Patience is required in the ground game. There will be opportunities.
The Eagles do an excellent job of creating one-on-one situations for playmakers. It’s a mixture of play design and talent. On a 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jeremy Maclin last week, two Colts defenders flowed toward running back LeSean McCoy, running a flare to the right. That cleared out an area for Maclin on a crossing route with now only one defender worried about him. Easy score. In each of the first two games defenses become frozen because of the options on each play. They’ll fake a handoff, show a bubble screen and then throw downfield if the defense hesitates. On a 57-yard pass to Darren Sproles last week, the Eagles cleared the middle of the field against man coverage and the diminutive back ran a circle route out of the backfield against a linebacker. It was a mismatch, but there was no one around to help.
The backs and tight ends are dominant in the pass game. In two games, quarterback Nick Foles has targeted the backs and tight ends as much as he’s thrown to receivers -- he’s targeted both groups 40 times. The receivers are not getting many yards after the catch, either. It’s also evident that, while Foles does some good things and is typically a patient passer, he’s also missed wide-open opportunities each game. Last week, for example, he threw a fade to covered receiver Riley Cooper in the end zone. On the same side, after a fake zone read and then fake bubble screen, Maclin was wide open. There are multiple examples in the first two games, yet they still score a lot. They will line tight end Zach Ertz up all over the place; he’s dangerous. But keep in mind this should be the best pass rush Philadelphia has faced and that could pose some issues, especially on the right side of the Eagles’ line.