Previewing Washington at Philadelphia on NFL Week 7 Monday Night Football...
When these teams met in Week 1, the Eagles rolled out their new downfield passing game and attacked Washington with vertical shot after vertical shot, usually off of play-action. The results were mixed, but the approach was revealing. Expect more. Washington’s pass rush has been so-so as of late, and Philly’s offensive line is playing well, especially tackles Lane Johnson (back from his concussion) and Jason Peters. Assuming Washington doesn’t blitz (they don’t usually, though they did in crunch time against San Francisco), Carson Wentz will have time to throw. And when he doesn’t, he’s capable of moving around to create time.
A bonus for the Eagles: Washington’s Josh Norman is out for at least one more week. He’d been playing almost exclusively on the left side this year, which is odd given that he’s done well in the past when traveling and No. 2 corner Bashaud Breeland has experience playing all over. Breeland will play Norman’s left corner spot this game because fill-in start, Quinton Dunbar, almost always plays along the right boundary (where he’s performed well).
However this isn’t the worst week for Norman to take time getting healthier, because the Eagles really don’t have a true No. 1 receiver. They signed Alshon Jeffery to be that guy, but he’s been inconsistent and is averaging just 53 yards a game.
Washington also hasn’t gotten its new prized receiver going. Terrelle Pryor: 16 catches for 209 yards. His route running has regressed. Maybe that’s to be expected for a man who is new to the position and transitioning to a new team and scheme. Nevertheless, if this doesn’t change, and/or if Josh Doctson doesn’t show up (he has four catches for 90 yards on the season) Jay Gruden’s offense can’t expand. Washington has gotten by on the playmaking of tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, as well as running back Chris Thompson, but the Eagles, with all the one-on-one coverage they play outside, are positioned to clue in on that.
Bold Prediction: Slot receiver Jamison Crowder will be targeted five or six times in the first half. Malcolm Jenkins is a terrific slot defender, but he doesn’t match up particularly well to shiftier receivers. Washington knows this and will feature Crowder in the gameplan.