This won’t be an easy game. Washington is fighting to stay alive in the NFC East. They’ve had the Eagles’ number in recent history so the pressure is on Philly to reverse the trend.
If you’re feeling worried about this game, today’s post might have you feeling a little better about the Eagles’ chances.
Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Hogs Haven in order to preview this week’s matchup. That Q&A will be posted today or tomorrow.
Today, we're back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each team's weaknesses, rather than just think of why each team is awesome.
So here are three reasons why Washington could lose, as written by HH’s Bill-in-Bangkok. Stay tuned to Hogs Haven to see why I think the Eagles could lose.
Back before the start of the season, I agreed with the writers of Bleeding Green Nation to swap articles ahead of the opening day matchup between the two NFC East rivals at FedEx Field. Each of us agreed to write a list of three reasons why our own team (in my case, the Washington Redskins) wouldn’t win the Week 1 game. As it turned out, I was right (as I usually am) and Brandon Lee Gowton was wrong, which is pretty normal for a Philly fan.
Against my better judgment, I have agreed to tackle the subject again ahead of the Week 7 Monday Night Football game between the Redskins and the Eagles in Philadelphia. I’m hoping that – for perhaps the first time in my adult life – an Eagle fan will be right about something when Brandon writes his article explaining why the Eagles will lose to the Skins on Monday.
Here are my three reasons why the Redskins will fall to 3-3, and will effectively be eliminated from the race for NFC East division championship:
1. The Redskins’ wideouts aren’t catching the ball
Rather than do a lot of research or typing, I’m just gonna copy & paste some excellent analysis by James Dorsett from Hogs Haven following the win over the Niners:
Terrelle Pryor - Pryor disappointed again with a line of 5 targets, 3 receptions, 2 first downs and 23 yards.
Pryor has led all Redskins receivers in snaps in each game this season and has received an average of 8.4 more snaps per game than the receiver with the second most playing time in each game, but hasn’t led the team in receiving yards since Week 1 (66 yards) and he also hasn’t eclipsed 70 yards receiving in a game this season. That’s pretty sad considering that 88 players have combined for 147 games of 71 or more receiving yards in this season alone. Pryor’s PFF grade still ranks 102nd out of 109 qualifying receivers.
Jamison Crowder - Somebody needs to put the 2015-2016 version of Jamison Crowder on a milk carton, because that player is still missing in action this season.
Crowder gained 11 yards and picked up a first down on a sweep rushing play, but he seemed to disappear after that. I mean, he was targeted 5 times, but the Crowder we all know and love wouldn’t turn those 5 targets into 3 receptions for just 15 yards and 1 first down, would he? Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened on Sunday.
Crowder is averaging a career-low 24 yards per and he has yet to score a touchdown after posting 9 TDs over the course of the last two seasons. Crowder led the entire team in touchdowns last year (7). He also ranked 3rd on the squad in yards from scrimmage in 2016; he currently ranks 7th on the team in that category. Oh, and on top of all that, he is averaging a career-low 5.0 yards per punt return.
Crowder was not on the injury report this week, so I’m really at a loss here. Where are you, Jamison?!?
Josh Doctson - Doctson only caught 1 of the 3 passes thrown in his direction on Sunday, but that catch went for an 11-yard red-zone touchdown on the first drive of the game. That was the second score of Doctson’s career and his second TD in his last three games.
Yet, somehow he only saw the field on a season-low 26% of the offensive snaps. It’s hard to understand why his playing time rose in each of his first five career games and then dropped in each game after he scored a 52-yard touchdown against the Raiders.
Brian Quick - This was the third time this year that Quick has been active. He played on 4 snaps and was not targeted. He has only taken 11 offensive snaps this season and caught his only target of 2017 for an 11-yard first down in Week 1.
Unless the Redskins can get more production and consistency from their wideouts, they will leave Philly with a .500 record after Monday night’s game.
2. The Redskins can’t run the ball against the Philadelphia defense
Rob Kelley is either out on Monday night, or less than 100%. He has only carried the ball 29 times this season.
Samaje Perine is averaging 3.0 yards per carry and hasn’t rushed for a TD yet in his NFL career.
Mack Brown has only 8 carries on the season.
Basically, the Redskins offense has been reduced to one player – Chris Thompson. Stop Thompson and you stop the Redskins. Again, I’m going to rely on James Dorsett’s analysis to explain what Chris Thompson means to the Redskins this season:
Against San Francisco, Chris Thompson caught 4 of his 5 passes for 4 first downs and a whopping 105 receiving yards. Three of his 4 catches and 92 of his 105 receiving yards came on screen plays. He had a total of 20 touches in the game, another new career high.
Thompson led the team in both rushing and receiving yards against the 49ers.
There are so many incredible Chris Thompson stats that I’m not going to even try to sensibly tie them together for you. I’m just going to spit out as many stats as I can before this section of the article takes on a life of its own.
- He is tied for the team lead in receptions (18) and leads the Redskins in first downs (14), receiving yards (340) touchdowns (4) and yards from scrimmage (515).
- Vernon Davis and Terrelle Pryor rank 2nd and 3rd on the team in yards from scrimmage; Thompson has gained 81 more yards than both of them combined.
- He has accounted for over 26% of the Redskin’s yards from scrimmage this season.
- Ryan Grant and Josh Doctson are tied for second on the team with 2 touchdowns each. Thompson has scored as many touchdowns as both of them have combined (4).
- Dick James is the only other Redskins running back with two 100-yard receiving games in a season (1962). Two 100-yard receiving games is also tied for the most career 100-yard days through the air by a Washington RB (James, Larry Brown and Craig McEwen).
- “Chris Army Knife” currently leads all NFL running backs in receiving yards (340), receiving yards per game (68) and yards per reception (18.9).
- He leads the NFL with 329 yards after the catch (YAC), which is 77 more yards of YAC than the second place player in that category. His 18.3 YAC average is also tops in the league.
- If Thompson continues at this pace, he will become the fourth player in NFL history to gain 1,000 yards receiving in the same season that they had 100 rushing attempts (Marshall Faulk, Roger Craig and Lionel James).
- Faulk was the last running back with over 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and he did it in 1999, the year Dan Synder bought the Redskins.
With wideouts not catching the ball, and the lead backs unable to run effectively against Philadelphia’s #1 ranked run defense, the entire offensive production lands on the shoulders of our 15-snap-per-game 3rd down change-of-pace back, Chris Thompson. If the Eagles can just stop CT, then they can shut down the Redskin offense and send Washington on a long quiet bus ride back to Virginia Monday night.
Don’t get me wrong; I realize that every team is facing injuries at this time of the season. There is literally no team in the NFL that is fully healthy.
But injuries can sometimes hit some teams harder than others. Looking around, I see Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook in Minnesota, Eric Berry and Spencer Ware in Kansas City, and I know that some teams face particularly difficult long-term injury challenges.
One thing I’ve learned as an NFL fan is that the teams with positional depth are the ones who are still playing and winning in January, because injuries are a part of the game. I’m fully bought in on the 2017 Redskins; I think this iteration of the team has more depth than any other Redskins team in this millennium.
But there’s a point where there are simply too many key players missing or playing at less than full speed – a point where there just isn’t enough talent on the field late in the game, and the healthier team wins.
As a Washington fan, I believe that a fully healthy Redskin team would win on Monday night, but I fear that too many key players are out or only partially effective, and that the Eagles will be able to exploit the fact that those players are missing.
The final injury report won’t be out until Saturday, but here’s a rundown of the injury situation as I understand it right now.
Josh Norman – Possibly the best player on the team, Norman is certainly the best cornerback on the team, and many knowledgeable fans argue that he is one of the NFL’s elite corners. Josh broke some ribs in the loss to Kansas City in Week 4. He’s had a bye week and the 49ers game to recover. There’s an outside chance that Norman plays, though I thinks it’s unlikely. If he does play, he probably won’t be 100%. The cornerback depth is good in Washington, but the next man up will still be a drop off from JoNo.
Adding to the pressure on CB depth is the fact that Bashaud Breeland, the team’s #2 corner, left the Niners game late in the second half with a knee injury. Reports are that he sprained it, and there’s a chance he plays on Monday night. If not, the Redskins will possibly be playing the Eagles without either of their top two CBs dressed for the game. That’ll create opportunities for Carson Wentz to exploit.
Dustin Hopkins – Our placekicker just went on injured reserve this week. He got hurt in the 49ers game. His replacement is a guy named Nick Rose whom Redskins fans had never heard of before Tuesday. Nick will be kicking in his first NFL game on Monday night in Philly. I’m sure the Philly fans will be kind to him. No pressure.
Jonathan Allen – Washington’s difficulties in keeping first round draft picks healthy continues. You may remember the guy we picked in the first round in 2012. The franchise had high hopes for him at QB, but a knee injury late in the season derailed his career. Last year’s first rounder, Josh Doctson, played only a handful of snaps due to some mysterious Achilles ailment. This year’s top pick, Jon Allen, suffered a Lisfranc injury against the Niners and is reported to be out for the year (and likely part of the 2018 season). Allen hadn’t been piling up individual statistics, but his strong play on the interior DL was helping the unit perform at the highest level Redskins fans have seen in years. I am a bit nervous to see what happens without him in the lineup.
Basically, Stacy McGee, who was signed in free agency, will probably increase his snaps, and Anthony Lanier will be activated from the practice squad. McGee has been playing well so far this season, and Lanier flashed at times last season. Allen’s injury could be a huge loss, but there’s a chance that the defense doesn’t miss a beat. Hard to know with a rookie who’d played in 4 ½ games.
The defensive front 7 had already been adversely affected by the loss of 4th year player, Trent Murphy, to a torn ACL during the pre-season.
Rob Kelley – Our starting running back had a rib injury early in the season, then an ankle injury suffered against the Chiefs. He didn’t play last week, and his status for this week is uncertain. The running game struggled against the Niners last week. Kelley’s backup is rookie Samaje Perine, and Mack Brown, who is usually inactive on game day, will be active if Kelley can’t go. Against the 49ers, Chris Thompson saw about 5 or 6 extra carries, but he didn’t do much with them, gaining just 33 yards on 16 rushes.
The offensive line depth is affected by Trent Williams, who has been fighting a sore knee since training camp. Redskin fans believe that TW is the best LT in the league – he is unquestionably an elite left tackle. He played against the 49ers, but was a bit hobbled and uncharacteristically gave up a sack. What makes his gimpiness more concerning is that the team’s backup swing tackle, Ty Nsekhe, had to have surgery following the Raiders game, so the OT position is a bit thin. Next man up if either Williams (LT) or Moses (RT) goes down would be TJ Clemmings, whom the Redskins grabbed off waivers after the final preseason game.
Jordan Reed – our outstanding pass catching tight end has missed one game entirely, and has looked a bit slow and out-of-sorts at times after injuring his sternum in Week 2. Vernon Davis is picking up the slack nicely, as he has 11 catches for 225 yards and a TD in relief of Reed.
With the Redskins potentially missing their starting Running Back, two starting Cornerbacks, first round draft pick DL, place kicker, along with a hobbled LT and TE, the roster has holes on Offense, Defense and Special Teams. Too many key players are missing to take on the 5-1 Eagles in Philly on MNF and come away with a win.
Congratulations, Philly fans! As you can see, the Redskins just don’t have a chance.