The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles will face off Sunday for the second time this season -- this time at FedExField -- after the Eagles won the Week 1 battle, 32-27. Despite the loss, the Redskins offense had great success in the first meeting with a season-high 408 yards, exposing the Eagles secondary with several big plays.
It was during this game that rookie wideout Terry McLaurin introduced himself to the NFL, as he finished with a 70-yard touchdown and 125 yards receiving overall. The Eagles' secondary has continued to struggle as of late, allowing a receiver to have at least 150 yards in consecutive weeks.
Paul Richardson and Trey Quinn are both out, which means the Redskins offense will once again be starting three rookie wide receivers: McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon on the outside and Steven Sims Jr. will start in the slot.
Sims and Harmon only played 22% and 7% of snaps, respectively, in the Week 1 loss. However, both players have become more involved in the Redskins offense as of late, playing a season-high 71% and 85% of snaps against the Packers last week. In his first-career start in the slot, Sims finished with four receptions for 40 yards. on seven targets, showcasing his combination of speed and quickness.
"He's doing a great job as far as getting better with his route running," Haskins said of Sims earlier this week. "He's a very shifty guy, so sometimes he can put himself out of place, but he definitely does a great job getting open, and I feel like he's continuing to get better with understanding the concept of where he's at in the progression. He's doing a great job at that."
With several rookies slated to start, the receivers' familiarity with the Eagles defense will be beneficial Sunday. Having some prior film to watch will help the young Redskins' receiving corps better diagnose the Eagles' defensive tendencies and coverage varieties. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz tends to utilize a lot of man coverage, so it will be pivitol for the Redskins receivers to navigate and diagnose defenses.
Understanding the Eagles' tendencies will help the receivers recognize which route combinations are most effective against the different coverages.
"It's kind of a cheat code to see, 'this is how they play this'," Sims said. "Rather than looking at another team and seeing what plays they're running, I can look at our actual plays that I know, how they're playing it and how they're adjusting to it and go from there."
Take a look at practice photos from Thursday's practice for the upcoming game.
Not only will this familiarity be beneficial to the receivers, but it also provides offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell with an idea of the types of plays that are effective against the Eagles defense. Despite the offensive success, O'Connell recognizes the two matchups are 13 weeks apart and still has a great deal of respect for the Eagles defense.
"They're a very, very special group of guys up front, not only rushing the passer, but stopping the run," he said. "Obviously, the linebacking corps and the secondary are making a lot of plays, always centered around [safety] Malcolm Jenkins and his ability to impact the game in so many different spots."
One of the benefits having such a young group is that they can grow together and learn as a unit. McLaurin is essentially the veteran of the rookie trio, having played at least 80% of the snaps in every game this season. They get more playing time together with every game, though, and they're all working to make each other better.
"Me, [Terry McLaurin] and [Kelvin Harmon], we all help each other go, we're young guys, we're all young," Sims said.
The Redskins' wide receiver group will look to replicate the Week 1 success. Only this time, it'll be with a much younger cast of characters.