The Philadelphia Eagles 2015 regular season football schedule continues this week with a game against the Washington Redskins. This game is a must-win for the Birds. If they don't win, they'll be eliminated from the playoffs. In advance of this game, I reached out to our friends over at Hogs Haven. Our friend Alex Rowsey kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming matchup. Let's take a look at the answers.
1) It sounds like Kirk Cousins might get a long-term contract after this season. How do you feel about the idea of Cousins as Washington’s franchise quarterback? What makes him good and is his success sustainable?
Personally, I feel great about it. I think he has everything we need in a QB and I'm thrilled at the proposition of stability at the position. While I think most fans are in agreement that they want and like the idea of Kirk as the QB for next year, the debate really starts when you use "long term." I'd feel great about signing him on something like a three-year contract just because of the simple fact that we've only see him play really for a season. We've yet to see consistency over multiple seasons, and that gives quite a few pans pause. There are a fair number of fans that don't want to commit to him for more than one more season so he can prove himself to everyone more while there are also fans that are completely comfortable giving him five years right now.
Kirk has a number of characteristics that make him a good QB, but I think the most important and powerful ones are the same things that make him a great person. The guy comes from a great home and seems like he was really raised right. He's a leader and I feel that guys in the locker-room enjoy playing with him. He has the right attitude, is a great interview, says the right stuff, and is incredibly focused on improving himself and the team. He works hard. I like that and I'll take that over someone with more talent who lacks in those things. He was the captain of the Michigan St. football team all three years he started there and I'm quite confident he'll be a captain of the Redskins next season. He's self-made and loves to work. That kind of thing bodes well for a guy because you can count on it. It's another reason why I'm comfortable signing him long term despite the limited amount of time he's shown that he's capable. This guy isn't going to magically fall off. He cares too much and works too hard.
As far as typical QB stuff, he has a lot of tools to work with. For starters, Kirk gets rid of the ball faster than any QB the 'Skins have had in a long while. When he plants that back foot at the top of his drop, the ball is out. It really makes the OL's job a lot easier and keeps the sacks down. At first, it also resulted in a lot of picks, but that's drastically improved over the back half of this season. It's also important to note that while Kirk does not have the strongest arm in the NFL (I mean, there are reasons he wasn't drafted until the fourth round), he can without a doubt make every throw necessary and do so adequately. He needs to continue to work on his accuracy, but you can tell (in part from his incredible completion percentage) that even though all of his throws aren't perfectly on the money, they're almost always catchable. Still, the intangibles are really the thing that separates Kirk. He's passionate and it's infectious. Oh yeah, he's a decent enough athlete too and has the second-most rushing TDs for a QB in the league this year. He's good at moving in and out of the pocket.
2) There was a [report] that the Eagles might be one of the teams interested in RG3 if/when Washington lets him go. How would Washington fans feel about Griffin signing with Philadelphia?
Personally, I wouldn't much care and if anything it'd just make the rivalry better and more entertaining for me. However, I'm in the minority. Most fans definitely want RGIII out of the division because quite a large portion of the fan-base is still confident that he can be a successful starting NFL QB. I do not feel that way and if I'm comfortable letting a guy go, then I should feel comfortable enough for him to go wherever. Basically it boils down to whether a fan thinks RGIII can be successful or not. I doubt it so I'm not worried about where he goes. Many fans think he's simply gotten a raw deal here and with a better (more well-suited) offensive system, he'll thrive.
3) Washington is 2-12 in their last 14 road games. They've been outscored 403 to 269 in that span. To what extent is this a concern? Why has Washington struggled so much when playing away?
It's definitely been a huge concern all year, but we're all feeling a little bit better about it lately since we won out last road game (in Chicago). I think it's more difficult to make a case that the Redskins are actually just worse on the road and somehow get rattled or lose focus or something like that. The more likely explanation in my opinion is the simple fact that our road opponents this year have been far superior to our home opponents. @ New England. @ Carolina. @ the Giants, Falcons (early in the year when they were unstoppable), and Jets. That's a pretty tough lineup. At home we've been playing teams like the Rams, Bucs, and Saints. And as far as that record going back to last year... well we didn't win on the road or at home last year, so that doesn't mean a whole lot. The team this year is obviously much better and way different from last year and it's showing. Our coaching staff has really talked a lot about winning at home and that being the starting point for us going from a terrible team to one that can compete regularly.
4) Can you name one matchup in this game that really favors Washington and one that really favors the Eagles?
I think Washington's greatest advantage in this game is our passing game against the Philadelphia secondary. Kirk has been playing great for like seven weeks straight now. He's been incredible. Jordan Reed has been uncoverable and is honestly a top-3 RECEIVING TE (his blocking is pretty atrocious). DeSean Jackson is healthy and coming off an absolute torching of the Bills last week... obviously his best game of the year. And we all know he loves to get up for a game against Philly. Add all that to the injuries the Eagles have sustained at CB and I think the 'Skins are in for another big passing game.
I think Philly's greatest advantage lies with Darren Sproles. The Washington run defense has been pretty bad most of this year and Sproles looked pretty good last year. It's incredible how age hasn't affected him yet really, but that guy is a nightmare to tackle. You've also got to love the element he brings in special teams. While Washington's STs has been better this year, we both know their history of being terrible in that department and Sproles doesn't need much to really hurt his opponent. I think he could be in for a pretty good day as a runner and a returner and I think he's probably the #1 advantage the Eagles have at this time.
5) Let’s hear a score prediction. Who wins this game and why?
I think the Redskins are going to win this game 26-23. Division match-ups are always toss-ups and the Eagles have the home-field advantage. I think it'll be a close, tightly-contested match-up with both teams fighting tooth-and-nail to claim this division. However, I think the Redskins are the better team right now and are peaking at the most opportune time while my opinion of Philly is hurt a lot by the performance they put on last week against the Cards. Sproles will probably do his thing, but I don't see how Jordan Reed can be stopped and I think we kind of have to expect DeSean Jackson to bring his A game. Both QBs are also playing for their futures which makes it even more entertaining. Should be a thriller.