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November 27, 2018

Eagles vs. Redskins: Five matchups to watch

Coming off their desperation win over the hapless New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles will face another NFC East rival on Monday night in another must-win type of game that can help keep the Eagles' playoff chances alive.

Here are 10 matchups to watch.

1) The Eagles' offensive line vs. the Redskins' front

The Eagles' offensive line is coming off its best performance of the season, and they'll need to keep it going against a very good Redskins front. 

"Their front seven is outstanding, as good a front three or four – the D-line they have is excellent," said Mike Groh. "They're strong at the point of attack. They got excellent lateral quickness. They can get on the edge and push the pocket in the middle. Both those guys on the perimeter, [Redskins LBs Ryan] Kerrigan and [Preston] Smith, can collapse the pocket outside. They have an elaborate blitz package and they've been in this defense for a number of years now and these guys play well together."

The Eagles struggled picking up blitzes and other defensive line games earlier this season, as we noted in the following video:

More recently, they've gotten some of those issues cleaned up a bit.

2) Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan vs. the Redskins' banged-up interior OL

In previous seasons, DT Fletcher Cox vs. RG Brandon Scherff was a fun individual matchup to watch. With Scherff and starting LG Shawn Lauvao both done for the season, the Redskins are undermanned on the interior of the offensive line, and could be vulnerable to the Eagles' interior defensive front.

Jim Schwartz spoke glowingly about Cox' play last Sunday against the Giants.

"Fletch played an outstanding game," he said. "It didn't show up maybe on the stat sheet the way that other people do, but probably the two biggest keys in that game were Fletch and Malcolm [Jenkins]. When you're faced with the adversity we were face with, you always want to rely on your veteran marquee players, and those two guys came through for us."

Timmy Jernigan returned to the lineup on Sunday, though he only played 20 snaps. He'll likely see more action Monday night. Schwartz thought that Jernigan's return had something of a ripple effect on the rest of the Eagles' defensive tackles.

"He brought us some energy," Schwartz said. "He only played about 20 snaps or so. Didn't want to tax him too much out there. It was good having that rotation back. I think we were even more productive with some of the other guys in there. Haloti I thought showed up a little bit better."

The Redskins' offensive line on Monday will likely look like this:

 Trent WilliamsJonathan Cooper Chase Roullier Tony Bergstrom Morgan Moses 

Williams is a star offensive tackle, but he'll be playing with a surgically repaired right thumb, as well as a bruised rib, if he is even able to play. It won't be easy playing with those ailments, and the Eagles will need to take advantage. Whether or not Williams plays, they will be handicapped at LT, and undermanned on the interior.

3) Doug Pederson and Mike Groh vs. Redskins CB Quinton Dunbar

Redskins CB Quinton Dunbar was a limited participant in practice all last week, but he played against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving with a shin injury. That was ill-advised, as Dunbar couldn't run. Here he is getting roasted by Amari Cooper for a 40-yard TD.

If Dunbar plays again on Monday, the Eagles need to run at him and throw at him, early and often, to see how he holds up.

4) Beware the mobile quarterback

While Colt McCoy isn't Deshaun Watson or Michael Vick, he does have ability to run the ball, just as Alex Smith did before he broke his leg Week 11. As we've shown several times this season, here is what some running-capable quarterbacks have done against the Eagles since 2017, in chronological order:

Opponent Rush Yards YPC TD 
 Kirk Cousins30 7.5 
 Alex Smith21 5.3 
 Cam Newton11 71 6.5 
 Kirk Cousins18 6.0 
 C.J. Beathard40 6.7 
 Dak Prescott10 5.0 
 Mitchell Trubisky12 3.0 
 Russell Wilson31 5.2 
 Dak Prescott16 8.0 
 Andrew Luck33 33.0 
 Marcus Mariota10 46 4.6 
 Cam Newton49 7.0 
 Blake Bortles43 5.4 
 Dak Prescott1.5 
 TOTAL49 291 5.9 

McCoy is a similar, but less-talented version of Alex Smith, in my view.

"He's a veteran player," said Schwartz. "He's got good mobility. He knows their offense. They're not going to change anything they have. He also has a little bit of ability to run some zone-read stuff and stuff like that. They haven't shied away from running any of that."

McCoy is going to have trouble beating teams the rest of the way through the air. The Eagles cannot let him beat them with his legs.

5) The Redskins' tight ends vs. the Eagles' linebackers and safeties

The Eagles' injury-devastated secondary won't have to worry about a guy like Odell Beckham this week, as the Redskins' receivers leave a lot to be desired, especially after the loss of Paul Richardson for the season.

However, they will have to worry about covering Washington's two tight ends in Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Reed leads the team with 50 catches for 537 yards and 2 TDs. Davis is third on the team in receiving yards, with 305, and a lofty 17.9 yards per catch average. He can still play.

In the past, the Eagles have liked the matchup of Malcolm Jenkins on Reed, which plays into the Eagles' hands, as the Redskins' strengths on offense don't match up favorably with the Eagles' weaknesses.

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