The first meeting between the Eagles & Redskins was billed as an epic Donovan McNabb vs Michael Vick matchup. Of course, Vick was knocked out of the game early and McNabb was poor. The reality of the game was that it was the Redskins running attack vs the Eagles defense. That's a matchup where the Redskins scored a clear victory. They ran for 169 yards at 4.8 yards per carry. Since then however, the Eagles run defense has gotten considerably more stingy. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott chalked that up to increased physicality up front.
"Well, I think the physical play of our defensive line, number one, and then just our defense continuing to come together as an overall defense. When you talk about run defense, it's not just the front four, it's not just the front seven, but the secondary comes into play as well."
There were also some personnel changes that factored in, namely the fact that Moise Fokou and especially Antonio Dixon have been inserted into the starting lineup.
"I believe so. You're talking about two physical players and also [DT] Antonio [Dixon] and Moise. So that certainly helped. Tackling has helped, improved fundamentals has helped, which always does when you're talking about the run game."
McDermott was also asked if the uncertainty as to who will start at RB for the Skins makes any difference?
"It really doesn't matter to us. The system is the system. It's a zone running scheme with some misdirection routes built in. Whether it's [Ryan] Torain or [Clinton] Portis or whoever falls in behind those two or three, we'll take the challenge."