With the second best defense coming into town this weekend, the Redskins will have to prove exactly how good their offense can be, while potentially being without one of Kirk Cousins' favorite targets.
**The Redskins offense has been presented with a tough two weeks.
After defeating the then-No. 1 ranked Ravens defense 16-10 last week, Washington is now preparing for Philadelphia to enter FedExField on Sunday. The Eagles just happen to be the No. 2 defense in the league and are coming off a very strong first quarter of the season.
Despite losing its first game of the season to the Lions last week, Philadelphia has had an overall impressive start, going 3-1 through the first four games on the schedule. The defense's biggest accomplishment to date was holding the Steelers' high flying offense to just three points and 251 total yards in Week 3.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 6 game against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
While the Eagles are a team that the Redskins are quite familiar with, turnover in recent years has continued to present new challenges for the offense to deal with, but has remained a consistent high level threat.
"I think [they're] very talented – a lot of good, individually talented players," Kirk Cousins said. "There has been some turnover like you'd expect in the NFL, but they still have a lot of the same pieces back that were very good players for them last year and years before that. I have tremendous respect for the talent level, for the scheme, the coaching staff that they have, and it will be a great challenge for us. Statistically, they have been playing as well as anybody in the league."
Cousins is right. The Eagles have only given an average of 266.8 yards per game and are third in average rushing yards per game, allowing just 73.2. The individual pieces that the unit possesses are part of what makes this defense such a problem. Fletcher Cox remains a menace for offensive linemen to deal with and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month in September. Through four games Cox has a total of 13 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble. Brandon Graham has also stepped up as an effective contributor in pressuring the quarterback with three sacks on the season, making the line that much more of a challenge to face.
"(The defensive line is) athletic. They're probably going to be the best D-line we've faced. They're definitely so far, maybe even the whole season," Redskins tackle Trent Williams said. "All guys can rush the passer. All guys can make plays in the backfield on run plays. They're just a very disciplined, tough group. Obviously they've got a couple of All-Pros up front, but then the other guys can be bad as well. … They're a very talented bunch and it's going to take a lot of focus and a lot of grit just to try and neutralize them Sunday."
The strong defensive line could present quite a challenge for the Redskins' offense looking to establish the running game along with finding success in the air with the chance that tight end Jordan Reed, who has continued to be one of Cousins' favorite targets, may not play.
"Those guys do a great job of coming off of the line of scrimmage, playing the pass through the run where they're really that 'jet-front'-type deal right now with Coach [Jim] Schwartz," Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. "It's a monster to stop and he's done a great job in both phases, as has their defensive line as a whole, which is why I think you see they're playing so well defensively in all phases and situations. So it's a great challenge for us and one that our guys will be excited about on Sunday."
Not having Reed would put even more pressure on other weapons in the Redskins offense to step up, while still limiting mistakes, such as turnovers. Doing so will be especially important this week, with the Eagles currently 5 in turnover ratio and only allowing six touchdowns so far this season.
The lack of touchdowns scored against Philadelphia reveals its ability to limit the points teams receive in the red zone, one of the biggest problems the Washington offense has had this season. The Redskins are currently last in red zone scoring percentage, converting just 35 percent of their attempts this season. The improvement that the team needs in this area would only be more difficult without Reed and with the pressure that the Eagles will bring. But the Redskins believe that this will only be an opportunity to show exactly how much they can do.
"They always play us tough. It's definitely going to be a dog fight," Williams said. "We're just looking for that constant level of above average play. We want to be considered one of the best units in the league. We know that we have to put it on tape to get in that consideration. We're going to continue to work our butts off every day, continue to study and continue to make strides as a group."
The hope is that Washington can use this game to show just how high its ceiling can be.
"We know we can play with any team in the division," wide receiver Pierre Garçon said. "We're showing it, we just have to be consistent for a whole 16 games and moving on to the playoffs."