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Blognostications

2013 - Week 11 @ Philadelphia Eagles

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Blognosticator - Jugband McGillicuddy

If you opened this thread expecting a feel-good fluff piece that ends with a predicted Redskins' win, do yourself a favor. Go walk the kids. Play video games with your dog. Do anything but continue reading beyond this point. Should you feel you're fan enough to handle it, then read on. But I warned you. (Also, in the same vain, and with the same level of sincerity, don't ingest Drano. That's bad for you too.)

I'm going to start this Blognostication with an examination of what I see in the Philadelphia Eagles. I'll do that because it's easy, and if they weren't in our division, it would actually be fun.

Nick Foles is playing some unearthly-good football right now. His quarterback rating two weeks ago was a perfect 158.3 (granted, against the Raiders) and he followed that up with an impressive three-score, zero-pick performance at Lambeau Sunday. In fact, the 24-year old, second-year man out of Arizona hasn't thrown an interception all season.

It's funny. When the pundits looked at the Eagles in the preseason, they pointed out how Chip Kelly's roster in Philadelphia thoroughly suited what he did at Oregon. What those pundits failed to recall was that Mike Vick gets hurt. A lot. What those pundits couldn't have realized was that Foles would lose his ever-lovin' mind.

His rookie campaign was pretty average, in all honesty, but he's figured this NFL thing out in 2013. I don't know who deserves the lion's share of the credit for that, but I know this: Nick Foles is a legitimately very good quarterback. Time will tell just how good. I can say that the one knowledgeable Eagles fan I work with is VERY excited. He admitted that "the Eagles haven't had a franchise quarterback in a long time. It's like you guys with RG3. Foles might be it."

That's a fair statement. He might be. I won't argue with a 16-0 TD/INT ratio.

Foles has no shortage of weapons either. Shady McCoy leads the league in rushing; in addition to his receiving abilities out of the backfield. Riley Cooper has gone nuts in the last few weeks (in a good way, finally.) And DeSean Jackson trails Megatron on the season by ONE receiving yard -- on 10 fewer targets. Think about that for a moment. Even with Calvin Johnson's 9-million-yard game against Dallas (slight exaggeration) DJack is right there with him; despite having fewer chances.

The Eagles are a better team defensively than the one we faced on opening night as well. They haven't allowed more than 21 points in a game since a 52-20 loss in Denver on Sept. 29th. On the bright side, the Redskins are one of the three teams that have topped the three TD plateau against gang green, putting up 27 in that Week 1 loss.

The bottom line on the Eagles is that they're fast, smart -- and maybe most importantly -- not turnover prone offensively. Their defense is stout, quick, and better than the one we saw earlier this year.

Before I move on to our Redskins, allow me to get some positivity out there for public consumption. If -- COTTON-PICKIN' IF -- we had recovered the onside kick at the end of the season opener, there is no way...no mother-honking way...we lose that game. RG3 and our offense were clicking. They'd shrugged off the repeated punches in the mouth that comprised most of three quarters, and we WOULD have scored a touchdown.

Unfortunately, "shoulda, woulda, coulda" always means one thing. "Didn't."

And my haven't there been a lot of "didn'ts" for the 2013 edition of the Washington Redskins?

We didn't finish that game. We didn't defend DC against the Lions as we ALWAYS had before. We didn't hold onto 14- and 13-point leads in Denver and Minnesota respectively. We didn't continue to run the football when we should have. We didn't see RG3 really look like RG3 until the Bears game. And we certainly didn't see a carryover of the excitement that surrounded this team the second half of last year.

There's been plenty of blame to go around. We've cursed Goodell, Mara, Kyle, Keith Burns, Rocca, Hochuli; even RG3 and the Easter Bunny at times. This entire season seems to have been an Indiana-Jones-style search for someone to blame. And everytime we think we've found "the guy," we drop the gold statue AND lose our hats.

I wish it was as simple as pointing to one thing, and identifying it as the problem. The thing is, every unit has been atrocious at some point in the first half of the year. What's frustrating is that every unit has also shown flashes of brilliance, save for special teams. (And on that note, can I just say that we all were right about not letting Lorenzo Alexander go under any circumstances? Remember when we ALL said that, and no one disagreed with us? I'm pretty sure even Ryman likes Zo, and he hates fluffy kittens and sunshine. Kidding, Ry. )

I'll be honest, guys. A lot of you have forgotten more football than I'll ever know. I'm not a coach. I don't WANT to be a coach. And I don't see many of the things that you with a more "inside" football understanding, do. But from the layman's perspective, there are a few simple things that I think we can do that would translate into instant improvement in this team.

1) Understand that Alfred Morris is literally a top-five (or better) RB in this league. Use him. Trust him. Pound him. Countless times this season, Kyle has abandoned the run too soon, and for seemingly no reason. As soon as we start to get into a rhythm, he shifts gears, prompting incredulous "WTFs" from around Redskin Nation. Stay with the run. Churn the clock. And especially this week, keep the Eagles' offense off the field.

2) BLITZ. Blitz early. Blitz often. I want Foles' jersey dirty, and his teeth rattled from the get-go. Personally, I'd put 7 or 8 guys in the box all the time, and vary who's coming -- LB/CB/S to the point that the young QB has no idea where the pressure is coming from. I don't care if you're Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning. Happy feet lead to turnovers. Likewise, a lack of pressure will allow ANY NFL QB to find his receivers and beat you. (See also: Ponder, Christian.)

3) With that stacked box, we should be able to fill gaps AND contain the edge against the run. Don't sleep on Shady. Again, he's the top rusher in the league. Don't let him see any green space. I want a burgundy hat in every hole.

4) TACKLE. I think our tackling has gotten better of late. At least I haven't noticed so many of the glaringly-bad missed arm tackles. Maybe the boys have been watching Reed Doughty's highlights. (You knew I had to work him in somehow.)

5) Let RG3 be RG3. If he's going to get hurt, he's going to get hurt. Tom Brady got his knee shredded sitting "safely" in the pocket. And your QB is certainly more prone to hits he doesn't see coming while looking downfield. Griffin must be smart, as has been hashed and reshashed a million times. But he was so good last year, because teams were terrified of his ability to take off on them. That MUST remain a legitimate threat.

It's become customary to offer a prediction here. Though I noticed my good friend SilentThreat did not last week. I'm going to shirk that responsibility as well and simply say that I hope we FINALLY see this Redskin team put together a 60-minute game in all three phases. If we do, the Eagles absolutely can be had. If we don't, this game for all practical purposes ends our season.

In closing, let me just say what I know you all feel...that regardless of whether we're 16-0, 0-16, or anything in between, this is my team. These are MY Washington REDSKINS. They'll always be the Redskins. And I'll be here every Sunday, rooting my guts out, until my last breath escapes me. Hail to them. And hail to you.
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