The Redskins are glad not to be facing running back LeSean McCoy anymore (at least not twice a year vs. the Eagles). McCoy did not have a great game vs. the Redskins last season, but in 11 career games vs. Washington, McCoy accumulated 1,286 total yards of offense (807 on the ground). Even now, the Redskins consider him one of the league's best running backs because he was a dual threat and they always worried when he would stretch plays out, putting pressure on the defense. It’s not as if they’re putting down any of the current running backs, but there is a sense that McCoy is missed in the Philadelphia offense.
It’s not as if the Eagles don’t still pose a threat offensively. But teams now figure as long as they play disciplined, they will be OK against Chip Kelly’s offense after having a week to prepare. It’s as much about getting used to the tempo as anything -- and knowing that the Eagles will test linemen by using the entire field. If a play goes wide to the left one time, look for it to go wide to the right on the next snap. Teams also know the Eagles love getting their running backs out on wheel routes; if the Redskins don’t defend that well, it’ll be a huge play. They also have to know the Eagles will use decoys, faking one way and throwing back to the tight end, for example.
Corner Chris Culliver already has shown that he’s an important player for the Redskins, which is why they can’t afford for him to miss any time. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Redskins have allowed only 59 yards receiving to wideouts on the defense’s right side (where Culliver is stationed) compared to 250 on the other side. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 53.8 percent of their throws to Culliver’s side compared to 81.8 percent to the left.
Receiver Rashad Ross’ status has been a big topic this week, especially with speedy DeSean Jackson sidelined. The Redskins hope to get Ross more snaps, but it’s not that simple. As of now, Ross only plays the X receiver spot, where Pierre Garcon typically plays. So the more Ross plays, the less Garcon would -- and the Redskins want to keep Garcon in this role and get him more targets, not fewer. They will work Ross in on occasion and want to get him deep, but the sooner he learns the other receiving positions, the sooner they can play him even more.
Receiver Jamison Crowder will continue to get more time in the slot, slowly inching past Andre Roberts in this role. Crowder said he’s still adjusting to running routes in the NFL. For example, there was one route vs. St. Louis where the coaches felt he was too quick to break on an in-route. “Now I know what I should do if I get that same look,” Crowder said. “I can be more patient, hold a defender and then break. That’s only making me better.” The Redskins love his ability to separate.
This will be a big game for Spencer Long, who is expected to start at left guard. The Redskins had rotated him and rookie Arie Kouandjio throughout the week, but settled on Long, who has more experience. It feels like expectations for Long have been higher than the results he’s produced. Coach Jay Gruden said last summer that Long would be competitive and he opened this past camp as the starting right guard. However, they’ll also point to his missing most of his senior year at Nebraska with a knee injury.
One player who graded out well vs. the Giants: linebacker Will Compton. He’ll make his second consecutive start in place of the injured Perry Riley (calf). Starting five games last season was a big boost for Compton. “Those last few games last year I hit a stretch where I could trust what I see and pull the trigger and get to the ball,” Compton said.
Yes, rookie running back Matt Jones causes the coaches to get a twinkle in their eye, but there’s no way they’re about to forget about Alfred Morris. The plan remains for the two to split carries and the Redskins likely would be most comfortable if Morris ended up with more carries. His patience and vision vs. the Eagles’ defense will be a plus. The Eagles can frustrate backs by limiting their gains. Last season, 15 of Morris’ 44 carries vs. Philadelphia resulted in gains of one yard or less, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins knows his second interception against the Giants was unacceptable; he forced a pass on first down in Giants territory. But the first one? No one blamed him alone for that pick. It was a combination of factors, starting with how the Giants played it and a route that needed to be slightly adjusted. But Cousins also needed to survey the situation a split-second longer. Still, he’s not going to second guess the pass. He can’t. "If I don't trust those throws and let them go at times, I'll probably never be able to make consistent completions in this league," Cousins said. "So, there's a balance there. I’ve got to trust what I see. I’ve got to throw with confidence. I can't get gun-shy. The other side of it is, in that specific play looking at it and being hard on myself, saying, 'Hey, is there a way maybe I can take a hitch and let it declare? Is there a way I could progress?'"