The Eagles can be beaten.
Coming off a Super Bowl-winning season in 2018, the supposedly world-class dominant Eagles sputtered losing 4 of their first 7 games, including dropping a pair of games to sub-par teams in the Bucs and Titans, and losing at home to the Panthers and Vikings. Think history can’t repeat itself?
Contrary to popular opinion, the Redskins are not a bad team. Young? Unproven? And lead by a journeyman QB? A work in serious progress? Yep. But bad? I don’t think so. This Redskins roster is younger, faster, and more physical than any in recent memory. They face a tough challenge to open their 2019 season, back to back matchups against two supposedly dominant and anointed NFC East teams in the Eagles and Cowboys. One positive trend - the Redskins have been better on the road to open the season than they have at home recently. I don’t know what that says about them – but it’s a fact.
Stand by for a shocking premise reveal…
The 2019 season opener at ‘The Linc’ is winnable.
Just relax. Before you get your realist panties in a bunch, adjust your attitude. Open up your mind. Embrace all of Fate's possibilities. This one is part truth, part hope, and mostly for fun...
No one, including the Philadelphia Eagles (Doug Pederson propaganda to the contrary), thinks the Burgundy and Gold have a chance on Sunday. And that may turn out to be a beautiful thing. Jay Gruden and his new blue collar bestie Case Keenum are doing their college best to sound humble, afraid, and cautious. And that plays right into a scenario where we get taken lightly – much more lightly than we perhaps should be taken.
How do the Redskins pull off a seemingly stunning upset you ask? Beats the hell out of me. But I can’t resist the opportunity to throw some scenarios out there.
Scenario #1 : Defensive Juggernaut
Before we get into the less serious and more fun scenarios, let’s cover the most likely one. The Redskins have a top 10 defense in 2019. If we really gel, and manage to do the unthinkable and stay healthy, it could be top 3. If our defense decides they’re being dissed (anyone see the number 22 ranking of our D released today?), they could come out angry and shock us all. I’m talking 5 or more sacks, a pick or two, maybe a forced fumble for 6, or knocking Carson Wentz off the field angry. I’m not saying they’re likely to provide such a jaw-dropping initial effort, but one thing about rebuilding with youngsters… they don’t know how un-Redskins-like this would be. They don’t know we aren’t supposed to shock and silence the critics. They could just be the defense we’ve waited decades for. The addition of Montez Sweat and Landon Collins, coupled with the further growth of the Alabama boys, and opportunistic newcomers in Jimmy Moreland and Cole Holcomb, just to name a few, add to a defense that looked pretty capable last year before injuries beset this squad.
This is the most preferred scenario – because it would represent us beating a dreaded rival straight up.
Scenario #2 : Bombs Away!
Case Keenum sucks. The Redskins have no wide receivers. Jordan Reed is about to retire. Chris Thompson is a shadow of his former self. The passing game is full of unproven rookies. Paul Richardson is overrated. Jay Gruden wouldn’t know a post pattern if it bit him in the ass. Add your own ‘conventional wisdom’ about the Redskins struggling passing game here. Whether based in reality or not, there’s not a defensive coordinator in the league who’s scared of the Redskins passing game. And up till now, there’s no reason they should be.
The Eagles are game planning for one thing and one thing only as we speak - how to stop Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson. They figure, if they do that – they win, and probably by 20+ points.
One way to take advantage of that – go Air Coryell on them. Throw 4 passes for every 1 run and if that doesn't work, make it 6 to 1. If the Redskins throw a flea flicker on the first down of their opening possession, we’ll know Gruden has decided ‘what the hell – I’m dead man walking anyway’ and has decided to take the Eagles D (and Skins fans everywhere) by surprise with an incredibly aggressive passing attack. This is not a likely approach. But it might work – and here’s why. The Eagles won't be prepared for it. If we can snatch an stunning lead with a couple of early passing TDs, our stingy D may well be able to hold off any furious comeback attempt, while on offense we run out the clock by pounding the rock almost exclusively in the 4th auarter. I know. Fletcher Cox alone will defeat this plan. We don’t have the receivers to execute such a bold plan, and even if we did, Case Keenum sucks (did I mention that?). But when teams get bold and play beyond aggressively, sometimes crazy things happen.
Scenario #3 : Ground and Pound and Out-FG-Em
The Redskins should be able to run on the Eagles. If they can get get our talented backfield going, it will do a lot to defuse a superior Philly offensive attack by keeping them off the field. That sets the stage for a lower scoring contest that may be settled by ST, not the offense or defense. We take him for granted, but Dustin Hopkins is a very consistent kicker. If the Redskins defense can frustrate and stymie the Eagles offense and limit them in the Red zone, this could turn into a trading field goals, tit-for-tat, 10 different lead changes type of game. If we can keep it close, hit all of our FGs within 50 yards, and be ‘in it’ late, the pressure on the Eagles will be tremendous. No one expects Washington to pull off a win – not on the road, and not against a stacked Eagles team with Carson Wentz under center. If we’re in it late, all of the pressure falls on the Eagles who could fold like a cheap tent. A couple of ‘flip the field’ turnovers that produce easy 3 point opportunities would greatly advance the cause in this scenario. And a couple of Jake Elliot ‘doinkers’ off the upright would be just the ticket.
Scenario #4 : Dirty Tricks
Let’s face it. This situation calls for an incredibly stupid and futile act by somebody. And Jay Gruden and the Redskins are just the guys to do it!
If you can’t beat ‘em – trick ‘em. That’s what my one-legged prostitute grandmother Lucky used to say anyway.
Gruden has shown he’s not averse to a little trickeration previously. If the worst case scenario presents itself, the Redskins get behind early, Case Keenum can’t stay upright, our defense underperforms, and/or the Eagles shut down our running game, Gruden may need to pull a rabbit out of his hat. Maybe we run an option with Trey Quinn (former HS pitcher) or Jordan Reed (former HS QB) going deep to a streaking Terry McLaurin. Maybe it’s a fake punt or two. A A reverse to Steven Sims on a kickoff.
Hell – maybe it’s all of the above.
Usually, when you see a lot of trick plays in an NFL game, it’s a sign of desperation from a team that knows it can’t win any other way. So I’d personally prefer that we compete straight up against an over-hyped and likely over-confident Eagles team. That being said, the expectations for the 2019 Redskins are exceedingly low. Gruden’s job is on the line. Those are arguments for risk-taking. There is literally nothing to lose. Why not pull out some (if not all) the stops and take some chances to pull off an early upset?
It could happen.
I don’t know what’ll happen on Sunday. Common sense says our best hope is that the Redskins are able to run the ball, and keep the Eagles within a couple of touchdowns on the strength of a tough defensive effort, hoping the favorites make enough mistakes to escape with a narrow victory. The experts say we'll get trounced. The Eagles are favored by more points than any other NFL team this weekend. But we all know, conventional wisdom and mediot experts are frequently proven horribly wrong on any given Sunday.
Gruden, Keenum, and Company are talking modestly and cautiously about this game. Don’t believe a word of it. They may not win it – but they believe they can. The outcome of the game doesn’t mean much. In all likelihood, this is a transition season for our team. We have a lot of youngsters with a lot to learn on this roster.
I’d love to see them learn an early NFL lesson on Sunday in Philadelphia. Regardless of talent, matchups, home field advantage, or the odds…
No game is unwinnable.