Reviewing the four things to watch we listed for Sunday’s Redskins-Eagles game.
1. ACCOUNTING FOR EVERYBODY
Entering the game: Rookie left tackle Willie Smith’s first four games will be against four Pro Bowl pass rushers – Andre Carter, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jared Allen and finally, Jason Babin. That group has combined for 62 sacks entering Week 17 action.
What happened: Babin wasn’t credited with a sack and Rex Grossman was sacked once (Trent Cole) but it will be interesting to see the breakdowns in protection when looking at the game in coming days. During one stretch, Rex was decked on four consecutive drop-backs. For Smith, he got the last month to show the Redskins he can a) start at right tackle by beating out Jammal Brown or b) play left tackle if Trent Williams screws up again.
2. PREVENTING THE BIG PLAY
Entering the game: The Eagles thrive on the big play – their 59 pass plays of at least 20 yards are tied for seventh and their 19 rushes of at least 20 yards are fourth in the NFL.
What happened: Except a 30-yard pass to tight end Brent Celek, the Redskins held the Eagles’ big play-makers in check for three quarters. But it’s a four-quarter game. Among the Eagles 10 longest plays, five came in the fourth quarter, including a 62-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. The other biggies in the final quarter was a 29-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin, a 23-yarder to Celek and a 20-yard run by Dion Lewis.
3. GIVEAWAY AND TAKEAWAY
Entering the game: The Redskins came in second with 34 giveaways, last in turnover ratio at minus-15, two or more turnovers in 14 straight games and a turnover in every game. The Eagles were tied for first with 36 giveaways, 30th in turnover ratio at minus-13, two or more turnovers in 11 games and only one game without a giveaway.
What happened: The Redskins had one giveaway (Rex Grossman interception) and two takeaways (Brian Orakpo forced fumble and O.J. Atogwe interception). But the Redskins could score no points off those sudden change plays. The Redskins scored 43 points this year off opponents’ turnovers (1.9 per turnover); opponents scored 83 points (2.3 per turnover).
4. ACCOUTING FOR EVERYBODY
Entering the game: Philadelphia came in on pace to become the third team in NFL history to have five players catch 50 or more passes (1980 Browns and 1994 Patriots). Brent Celek (56), Jeremy Maclin (55) and DeSean Jackson (54) are already there and next up is Jason Avant and LeSean McCoy (both 48).
What happened: The Eagles didn’t join the Browns and Patriots – Avant had four catches but McCoy was inactive due to injury. The Redskins didn’t account for everybody on a consistent basis. Maclin was great (eight catches for 105 yards), Jackson made his aforementioned big play and Celek (six for 86) had his third-best yardage game of the season.