ReFo: Eagles @ Redskins, Week 11
This NFC East battle between two 3-6 squads with rookie signal-callers did not follow the recent script. Since taking over the Washington Redskins in 2010, Mike Shanahan had only defeated the Philadelphia Eagles once, a game in Philadelphia that ended with Jason Avant dropping a Hail Mary TD pass. With Michael Vick injured the previous week against Dallas, the Eagles had to rely on third-round pick Nick Foles here, who struggled when thrown to the wolves that were the Cowboys’ defense.
Foles again struggled in this game with two early picks, but that only led to a single Redskins touchdown. This 31-6 beat down can also be attributed to continuing issues with the Eagles’ secondary, as well as the dangerous Robert Griffin III. RG3 threw for 200 yards, four scores, and also ran for 85 yards. He would finish the afternoon with only one incompletion, though that play could’ve resulted in a pick-six. Let’s take a look at some other performances that shaped this divisional contest that would result in Shanahan’s most lopsided win as Washington’s head coach.
Philadelphia — Three Performances of Note
Safety Problems Continue
Philadelphia safeties Nate Allen (-0.1) and Kurt Coleman (-2.6) have been liabilities before, and that trend continued in this game. Allen was taken advantage of on the Redskins’ second offensive play as he bit on a play-fake and gifted FB Darrel Young a 6-yard TD catch. Teammate Coleman was the bigger culprit, though. On Santana Moss’s 61-yard touchdown he managed to get there, but comically fell down despite being in position to at least prevent the catch. Later on, he was again embarrassed on Logan Paulsen’s 17-yard score. Here, Coleman went in for a hit instead of trying to wrap the tight end up. When he actually tried to make the tackle it was too late, resulting in him getting dragged for 4 yards. Both safeties also lost individual battles against Young in the ground game, while Coleman also missed a tackle on Alfred Morris.
Bright Spots on Eagles D
There were some notable performances in this contest from Philadelphia’s defensive unit. Rookie Fletcher Cox (+4.2) had the best game of his young career with three stops in run defense, four hurries, and a forced fumble on an RG3 scramble. Perhaps his most impressive play occurred with 13:41 left in the third quarter where he quickly recognized the screen being set up, dropped back, headed upfield, waited, and ended up tackling Pierre Garcon for a 1-yard loss. Jason Babin, one of many Eagles not living up to expectations this season, pressured Griffin seven times (one being a sack against stud LT Trent Williams) along with two stops in run defense (one invisible on the stat sheet because of a Redskins illegal formation penalty). MLB DeMeco Ryans, despite losing some battles against offensive linemen, was also active with nine tackles (six of which were stops), a forced fumble, and only 7 yards allowed in his coverage.
Tough Day for the Rookie
It was reasonable to think even a rookie making his first start might have some success against a Washington defense that has been abused throughout the year. Foles (-7.2) would not have success, however, finishing the day without a TD pass, a 45.7 completion percentage, two interceptions on his first two drives, and a fumble. Some, including this game’s commentators, blame tight end Brent Celek for the first pick, but Fletcher got his hand in there to defend and tip the pass. Fletcher’s presence makes Foles’ decision there a questionable one. The second turnover was clearly Foles’ fault, though, as, under pressure up the middle, he underthrew the pass deep. Another baffling decision was on a simple throw away with 14:27 left in the second quarter that was followed by a successful 41-yard field goal attempt. It was good for him to not turn the ball over or lose yardage, but on a deep drop against a neutralized four-man rush he still had plenty of time. Unsurprisingly, the camera found DeSean Jackson looking disgruntled coming off the field immediately after.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
Barry Cofield Dominating
With injuries crippling the Eagles’ offensive line, it was a given that at least someone on the Redskins’ defensive line could shine in this contest and Barry Cofield (+5.5) did just that. The former defensive end-turned-nose tackle made life miserable for RG Jake Scott and C Dallas Reynolds on this day. He beat Reynolds for three QB hits (one which won’t show up on the stat sheet because of an offensive holding penalty on the play) and forced Scott to concede two hurries and commit holding on another play. Though Scott, with initial help from Reynolds, did put him on the ground on a 9-yard LeSean McCoy run (9:51 in the second quarter), the former Giant was also a force against the ground game. One example is with 8:45 left in the second quarter he neutralized Scott’s attempted cut block and then shrugged off RT Daniel Kelly to get down the line and tackle McCoy for a 2-yard gain on 2nd-and-10. He didn’t even always need to make the tackle himself, as happened with 10:59 left in the third quarter where he pushed Reynolds (despite initial help from Scott) into the backfield, slowing Shady down enough to give Ryan Kerrigan time to make a tackle for a 6-yard loss. On top of all that, he also forced a McCoy fumble that led to a field goal.
Promising Debut Cut Short
Due to injuries, it took until Week 11 for former Patriot and Bears safety Brandon Meriweather (+1.7) to make his Redskins debut. The maligned Pro Bowler hasn’t impressed in the past two years, but he was all over the field Sunday with his most notable contributions being a vicious hit that dislodged Clay Harbor from completing a catch along with an interception and a 25-yard return. He did over pursue on a DeSean Jackson screen catch that led to a first down and had two consecutive negative plays against the run (one where Jackson successfully blocked him), but there’s no doubt that Washington’s defense was better with him on the field. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL 45 snaps into the game, but this brief glimpse could bode well for him and the Redskins’ future depending on how he recovers.
Trent Williams Does Alright
Trent Williams, the former fourth-overall pick, has continued his stellar play from last season, but this was not one of his best days. On a 3rd-and-one with 5:10 left in the first quarter he failed to get a second-level block on LB Mychal Kendricks, who was then free to race into the backfield and help bring down Alfred Morris for a 5-yard loss. Another bad play came with 8:27 left in the third quarter where he failed to get a pulling block on DeMeco Ryans, who then forced a Morris fumble. He also surrendered a sack and a QB hit in his 23 pass-blocking snaps. It certainly wasn’t all bad though as his +0.6 overall grade suggests as he still had a few mauling run blocks. The most notable one came at the 11:25 mark of the second quarter where he manhandled Ryans at the second level on a 12-yard Morris run. You have to give credit to Williams for raising the bar so high that only a few negative plays stand out.
– For the first time in his Redskins’ career, Ryan Kerrigan missed a snap (he missed the last nine with the game well decided).
– Trent Cole, once one of the most feared pass rushers in the league, only notched a single hurry in 16 rushing attempts.
– This is only the third game this year that a Redskins’ receiver didn’t drop a single pass.
Barry Cofield. Usually the performance of a nose tackle goes unnoticed, but this Team Captain was impossible to ignore last Sunday. His +5.5 overall grade is the highest he’s received since joining Washington last season.
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