PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Don't tell the Philadelphia Eagles they're about to face the second-worst defense in the NFL.
The Eagles know how tough the Washington Redskins can be, even if the statistics tell a different story. In their first meeting, the Redskins shut down Philadelphia's offense in a 17-12 win.
Donovan McNabb's return to Philadelphia dominated the headlines leading up to that game, but the Redskins defense was the reason they won. The Eagles came in averaging 28 points per game, but Washington knocked out Michael Vick and held Philadelphia to one touchdown.
The Redskins (4-4) will try to stifle the Eagles (5-3) again when the teams meet Monday night.
On paper, the Eagles should have no trouble moving the ball. They're averaging 25 points per game, are ranked fourth in total yards and only Houston has allowed more yards than the Redskins.
"The total stats are very low, but let's make no mistake: these guys are very, very good," Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Friday. "We've got quite a challenge. They've got excellent players across the board, very good pass rushers. (Albert) Haynesworth is excellent. Excellent set of linebackers and the coverage men are making plays."
Despite giving up a ton of yards, the Redskins aren't allowing a lot of points. They've held opponents to 21 points per game, and limited some outstanding offensive teams. In each of their four wins, the Redskins didn't give up more than 14.
They are tied for third with 19 takeaways and are second in third-down efficiency at 31.8 percent. That helps keep teams off the scoreboard.
"That's what they live off of, those third downs and turnovers," Mornhinweg said. "We've got to be on top of things in this game. They've played some excellent offenses so the big picture statistics are a little misleading."
Part of the problem for Philadelphia on Oct. 3 was the offense had trouble getting into a rhythm early and then Vick got hurt. Kevin Kolb hadn't played since Week 1 before coming in for the last three quarters. The Eagles almost pulled off a stunning comeback on the final play, but Kolb's desperation heave fell out of Jason Avant's hands and was intercepted by DeAngelo Hall.
The Redskins gave the Eagles a different look defensively, employing a Cover 2 scheme.
"In this league, any team can come out and play a different coverage at any given time, and if that's the way they feel they can stop you or slow you down then that's what they're going to do," Vick said. "It's up to you to make adjustments and do things the right way. So, they may play Cover 2, they may play Cover 3 all game. You never know. We're just preparing for whatever they try to do, and try to have something that we can do to offset what they're trying to do."
Vick should make things more difficult for the Redskins this time around. He's perhaps the greatest scrambler in league history, so defenders must be mindful of his ability to run. Vick, the NFL's top-rated passer, has also been successful staying in the pocket this season.
"It's Mike Vick, so it's more or less rush with vision," Redskins defensive end Adam Carriker said. "You gotta get after it and just react to whatever he does. If you're thinking about it, it's gonna affect your rush; then you're not gonna get to him and he's gonna pick you apart. You can't really worry about it too much.
"With certain quarterbacks, you know they're not gonna move so you're just trying to beat the lineman. With Mike Vick, you're beating the lineman but also you're trying to keep him in your (line of vision). I don't know how to explain it unless you've actually done it. You just go out there and you rush and you make sure that he's in your line of sight somewhere. With some quarterbacks you wouldn't even look, you'd just try to beat the O-lineman."