Redskins (3-1) at Eagles (2-2)
Today: 1 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field
TV: Ch. 5
Radio: ESPN 980
WR82Antwaan Randle El
PR82Antwaan Randle El
Out: DE Jason Taylor (calf).
Doubtful: RT Stephon Heyer (shoulder).
Questionable: LB Marcus Washington (hamstring), CB Shawn Springs (calf).
Probable: RG Randy Thomas (toe).
Doubtful: DE Victor Abiamiri (wrist), G Shawn Andrews (back), WR Kevin Curtis (hernia).
Questionable: TE L.J. Smith (back), RB Brian Westbrook (ankle).
Probable: S Quintin Demps (knee), DE Darren Howard (abdomen), DT Dan Klecko (hand), QB Donovan McNabb
REDSKINS WR SANTANA MOSS VS. EAGLES CB ASANTE SAMUEL
Since Andy Reid arrived in Philadelphia, the Eagles rarely have been a big player in unrestricted free agency, opting to secure their own talent and count on the draft to replenish the roster. But that changed last spring when they snatched New England cornerback Asante Samuel for $20 million guaranteed.
Since the start of 2006, Samuel´s 18 interceptions (including two this year) lead the NFL. He will play mostly at left cornerback, but a quick start by Moss could force defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to assign Samuel strictly to Moss.
“Probably one of the best corners in the league,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said of Samuel. “He plays great man technique and is a very deceptive player because he´s a guy who can play press coverage and man. A lot of corners are great when they play press but average in the ‘off´ technique.”
Said quarterback Jason Campbell: “He makes a huge difference. He´s definitely somebody we have to look for and know where he is on the field.”
Samuel will have his hands full against Moss, who has 27 catches and three touchdowns this season. If Moss has early success, that will force the Eagles to shade a safety in Moss´ direction, thus freeing up receiver Antwaan Randle El and tight end Chris Cooley to work in man coverage.
Zorn said Samuel presents a matchup problem because of his ability both to play press and also give a cushion.
“With guys like him, you can disguise both man and zone by being press or off, and it´s a real advantage for the defense because the quarterback can´t get a read on how he´s going to play the receiver,” Zorn said.
1. Stay aggressive
It has been refreshing to see the playcalling of Jim Zorn and Greg Blache through four games. It needs to continue even though the Redskins are 3-1 and playing another division road game. Philadelphia´s a desperate team, so it also will be aggressive.
2. Third-quarter defense
New Orleans (touchdown), Arizona (field goal) and Dallas (touchdown) all got the football first in the third quarter and scored. The Redskins answered each time, but a stop out of halftime wouldn´t be bad.
3. Red-zone offense
This again became an issue for the Redskins last week, when they were a woeful 2-for-6 inside the Dallas 20-yard line. Against Philadelphia, the Redskins can´t afford to settle for field goals, especially when they get inside the 10.
WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL
Was it just a month ago that the Redskins´ offense looked like something that would have trouble against a junior college team? That´s how impressive the transformation of Jim Zorn´s playcalling and Jason Campbell´s quarterbacking has been. In the three wins, they have posted 455, 323 and 381 yards. Today is another test, though. Philadelphia ranks third overall, first against the run and 11th against the pass. The key will be pass protection. The Eagles have 17 sacks. Because of Philadelphia’s run defense, the pass protection will have to be on point so Campbell can continue finding Santana Moss (27 catches) and Chris Cooley (17 catches).
WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL
The most important player in the game is Eagles running back Brian Westbrook. If he can´t play, the Redskins have the edge. If he plays - even if he isn´t at full strength - the matchup is even. Assuming he plays, the key is preventing his huge plays. That means the Redskins have to be sound on screen plays and solid tacklers on run plays. The other problem is rookie receiver DeSean Jackson. The second-round pick has 22 catches. Donovan McNabb is playing well (95.7 rating), but he´s not as effective on the run, so the Redskins have to get more out of their four-man pass rush.
Both teams have been solid in one aspect of coverage (the Redskins rank third in kickoff coverage, the Eagles first in punt coverage) and the Redskins have the better kickoff return unit (ninth). Philadelphia gets the edge because of punter Sav Rocca. His 44.1-yard net average leads the NFL, and he has downed seven punts inside the 20-yard line. Rookie Durant Brooks was a little better last week (hang times of 4.10, 4.34, 4.88 and 4.87 seconds), but he still ranks 27th in net punting. The Eagles’ Jackson is averaging 9.8 yards on punt returns but had a key fumble last week. Antwaan Randle El averaged 10.3 yards on four punt returns last week.
- Ryan O’Halloran