After facing the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, the Redskins will have an extended break before their Week 13 clash against the defending Super Bowl Champions in the Philadelphia Eagles on "Monday Night Football." It will be the second of three consecutive games where Washington will square off against their respective NFC East Division rivals, with this contest potentially the greatest for Jay Gruden and Co. as they'll have to face star quarterback Carson Wentz at Lincoln Financial Field.
With plenty of new faces in the spotlight this season, the Redskins will hope to avoid a repeat of their performances against the Eagles after coming up short in both games last year.
Due to playing Philadelphia twice a year, Redskins.com is taking a closer look at coordinator Mike Groh's offense today and will preview coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense later this month.
Philadelphia's Key Additions: Signed WR Mike Wallace (Ravens), Markus Wheaton (Bears), DT Haloti Ngata (Lions), Acquired DE Micheal Bennett (Seahawks) and Drafted TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State).
Philadelphia's Key Subtractions: RB LeGarette Blount, TE Trey Burton, DE Vinny Curry, CB Partrick Robinson, S Corey Graham and WR Torrey Smith.
While the Eagles got the best of the Redskins in both of their matchups last year, the Super Bowl Champions didn't breeze past Jay Gruden's side like they did to many of their opponents.
In Week 1 last year at FedExField in Landover, Md., the Eagles pulled away late in the fourth quarter after defensive tackle Fletcher Cox returned a fumble off former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins for a 22-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles an 11-point lead before scoring a two-point conversion for an eventual 30-17 victory.
Had the Redskins emerged victorious in that game, their entire 2017 campaign could have looked vastly different. They would have been 3-1 with strong momentum heading into their Week 5 bye, potentially altering the course of their season.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' defense in their 2017 Week 7 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles October 23, 2017, at Lincoln Financial Field.
This offseason, the Eagles' offense lost some pieces that were crucial in their quest for the Lombardi Trophy last year. The most notable departure was veteran running back LeGarette Blount, who headed the Eagles' vaunted three-headed rushing attack that included Corey Clement and Jay Ajayi that pushed Philadelphia to average just over 130 rushing yards a game, good for third in the league.
For the Redskins, the departure of the Oregon product holds weight, but ultimately isn't going to the be the make or break factor when determining if they can steal a win in this early December matchup. It all draws back to how they can defend MVP favorite Carson Wentz, especially in a hostile road environment.
The Bismarck, N.D., native did favorably in his two performances against Greg Manusky's defense last year, throwing for six touchdowns and nearly 600 passing yards while leading the Eagles to their first and sixth victories. Of course, Wentz dominated just about every defense that stood in his way last year, but that doesn't serve as an excuse for the Redskins' struggles against the third-year quarterback.
The most important area that Torrian Gray's defensive backs need to cover is preventing the Eagles from creating big plays vertically. Even in just his third season, the North Dakota State product has demonstrated he has one of the best arms in the league, throwing six 50-plus-yard touchdowns in his 13 starts last year. The addition of Mike Wallace makes this task of defending the deep ball even more of a challenge, as the veteran has been widely regarded as one of the most dangerous vertical options in the NFL the past 10 years.
"I don't feel like we're going to miss a beat at all, honestly," Quinton Dunbar said during OTAs. "We've got [Orlando] Scandrick coming in, who's proving himself. Very smart player. Probably one of the smartest players I've been around as far as breaking down concepts, knowing different things and stuff like that. Then you've got one of the top cornerbacks in the league, [Josh] Norman. And then you have the young talent like myself and Fabian [Moreau] with tremendous upside and things like that. I feel like we won't miss a beat."
With the additions of Scandrick and Virginia Tech products Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander, the depth among the Redskins secondary gives them a reasonable chance to keep the explosive Philadelphia offense to a minimum. It's unlikely that they can completely shut down Wentz at Lincoln Financial Field, but if they prevent the big plays, the Redskins could walk out of Philly with their heads high.