Redskins must stop rookie QB Carson Wentz to win fourth straight

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins have a three-game winning streak, but the Philadelphia Eagles have something else that has opened more eyes -- a good-looking young quarterback. In his first four games, Carson Wentz has led the Eagles to a 3-1 record while throwing just one interception. It's not a coincidence that his good play is a reason they're an early surprise.

But the Eagles' defense ranks among the top 10 in a number of categories, including second in total quarterback rating as well as sacks per pass attempt and sixth in net yards per attempt.

The Redskins have found ways to win in the last three weeks -- they're not going to wow anyone, but they have made plays. What they don't want to do is lose a second NFC East game at home, which makes this an important contest for them. For what it's worth, the Redskins have won three straight over the Eagles -- but that was over Chip Kelly's group, and now Doug Pederson is in charge.

Here are six players to watch courtesy of ESPN Eagles reporter Tim McManus:


QB Carson Wentz: The rookie quarterback out of North Dakota State threw his first career interception late in a loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Aside from that one moment, it’s hard to find many blemishes. Wentz has thrown for over 1,000 yards through four games with seven touchdowns and just the one interception. He’s been dynamite against the blitz, completing 27-of-32 passes with three touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The 23-year-old has been hard to rattle to this point, though I’m sure the Washington faithful will do their best to try and change that.

OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai: Lane Johnson has been suspended for the next 10 games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Eagles are going to play the rookie out of TCU at right tackle in his absence, at least to start. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich described the fifth-round pick as a natural pass-protector who has improved a good deal in the run game. He has impressed the coaching staff with his work against the first-team defensive line in practice, but game action is obviously a whole different ball game. He’s now responsible for keeping Wentz upright.

TE Zach Ertz: Ertz returned from a rib injury on Sunday against the Lions but was only targeted three times and finished with three catches for 37 yards. He is an effective weapon when healthy and could be leaned on in this spot as head coach Doug Pederson tries to get the ball out of Wentz’s hands quickly while they test out the new-look line.


DT Fletcher Cox: The reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Month registered his fourth sack in as many games Sunday and added a tackle for a loss and a QB hit, but he also made a costly mistake by ripping off quarterback Matthew Stafford's helmet on a pass rush, drawing a flag that extended a Lions scoring drive. He’ll be motivated to make amends. Look for Cox, who can beat you with both athleticism and power, to line up outside some on passing downs.

LB Mychal Kendricks: It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz handles the linebacker rotation last week. Against Detroit, he mixed in a package that included Kendricks and Stephen Tulloch as the two LBs, and it was not particularly effective. Kendricks was in coverage on one of Theo Riddick's touchdown receptions and also missed a key tackle on another scoring drive. Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham have been solid, but Kendricks -- a starter to this point in base packages -- needs to take his game up a notch.

CB Leodis McKelvin: On Sunday, the starting corner aggravated a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the previous two games. Pederson expects him to play this week, but the lingering injury has to be a concern at this point. If he’s forced out of the game, the team will rely more on veteran Ron Brooks and rookie Jalen Mills to defend DeSean Jackson and company.