SERIES HISTORY: 168th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series 85-76-6. The Eagles swept Washington last year, winning 30-17 at FedEx Field in the 2017 season opener then winning the rematch, 34-24, at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night Football on Oct. 23.
The Eagles are 3-1 on Monday Night Football under head coach Doug Pederson, last defeating Oakland 19-10 at home on Christmas Day in 2017. It was a win that clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Monday’s game doesn’t have those ramifications, but the stakes are obviously higher. Pederson believes it will be a playoff atmosphere.
“I do,” he said. “I think both teams are fighting for that. Both teams need to win, quite frankly. … This is going to be an electric atmosphere. Washington, a team that’s had success this year, doing some things, and we still get to play them twice. We just have to make sure we take care of our business obviously, but our guys feed off of our fans and it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
The Eagles may want to try to find a quick start this week since the team that has scored first in every game the Redskins have played has gone on to win.
“We realize that,” said quarterback Carson Wentz. “It’s an interesting trend, an interesting stat for sure. I realize it’s not a make or break stat by any means, but we’re always talking about starting fast. We’ve obviously struggled with that over the season. Last week I thought we did a great job. We scored on the second play (a 51-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams) and then it got called back by holding and then it stalled out because of that. I think we’re close. I think we’re close. And yeah, it’s frustrating when we’re not, but we feel we’re ready to start fast, for sure.”
The Eagles are averaging just 20.9 points per game this season and have scored touchdowns in just two of their 11 games to date. If they can figure out how to reach their per game average, they have a good chance to beat the Redskins because Washington is 0-5 when an opponent scores more than 17 points a game against them this season.
Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman are good friends having attended the University of South Carolina together.
“We’re home boys,” said Jeffery. “I look forward to it. Whoever lines up against me doesn’t matter. If he’s guarding me the whole game it doesn’t matter.”
As for Swearinger’s propensity to talk some trash, Jeffery said: “He’s always been like that, even in college. He’s an alpha personality. He just wants his teammates to do the right things and be held accountable.”
BY THE NUMBERS: 22. That was the number of carries running back Josh Adams had on Sunday. It’s not very often that a running back has reached the 20-carry mark since Doug Pederson tool over as the head coach. Pederson prefers a running back by committee approach. Adams however had the hot hand and Pederson kept giving him the ball. In the process, Adams became just the second back to carry the ball at least 20 times under Pederson. Ryan Mathews is the other, with Mathews getting 22 carries in Pederson’s head coaching debut in Sept. of 2016 against the Cleveland Browns then, 11 weeks later, Mathews got the ball 20 times against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 18.
PERSONNEL PLAYER NOTES:
Linebacker Nigel Bradham broke his thumb in three places against the New York Giants last week. On Monday, he had surgery and had six screws inserted into his hand. He practiced this week so he will play, but will use a cast resembling a club, which could limit his effectiveness in tackling.
Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan made his season debut against New York after being added to the 53-man roster from the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. He played 19 snaps and didn’t make the stat sheet, but his presence was a welcome sight for teammates. “It was really good to have Timmy back,” said Fletcher Cox. “He brings a lot. I was really happy to see him out there. He was very disruptive being Timmy. Happy to have him back. He was getting off the ball, flying around, making tackles and having fun. That’s just what Timmy does.”
Cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas are expectd to play, but Jalen Mills and Avonte Maddox won't. Neither will linebacker Jordan Hicks.
Darren Sproles is expected to have a limited role, and will play for the first time since Sept. 6. He is listed on the injury report as questionable, however. Josh Adams (hip) and Michael Bennett (foot) are also questionable.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Malcolm Jenkins. The veteran safety was a steadying presence on Sunday in an Eagles secondary that was short on experience. His interception at the end of the first half, after New York had reached the Eagles- 27-yard line and was looking to add to a 19-11 lead before halftime, was arguably the turning point in the 25-22 win. It may ultimately end up being one of the key plays that saved the season, depending on how the Eagles finish from here.
“He played some different positions early, but then late he played a significant amount of his snaps at safety position,” said defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
“Actually, he played at the nickel, in the nickel slot, because he had to move down because it took us out of our dime. He's a good all-around player. I don't know if we could have won that game without having a guy like Malcolm Jenkins; number one that has the flexibility to move to different positions, and number two the athletic ability to do it. It's easier said than done. It's not just knowing what to do.”
Jenkins has been an ironman since joining the Eagles as a free agent in 2014, making all 74 regular-season starts since then and three more in last year’s run to the Super Bowl.
Balance. If that word was used once it was used a dozen or more times in the days following the Eagles’ win over the Giants, as in balancing the run game with the pass game. The Eagles did an extraordinary job with marrying the two. So much so that they finished with more runs (29) than Carson Wentz pass attempts (28), marking the first time this season that the team ran more than it tried to throw.
The Eagles finally seem to have found a back they are comfortable with getting the bulk of the carries, and that’s undrafted rookie free agent Josh Adams. Adams had 22 carries last week, picking up 84 yards and scoring a touchdown and PAT. He also had a 51-yard TD run called back on a hold by center Jason Kelce.
“Any time we stay balanced I think as an offense, good things happen and you're able to score points and sort of control the ball,” said head coach Doug Pederson. “I think you look around league, the common theme of teams that have that balance are winning games.”
The Redskins won’t make that easy. They are eighth in the NFL against the rush and fourth in the league in the takeaway-giveaway category at plus-9, with 11 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Their offense has given the ball up just 12 times, but three of those came on Thanksgiving when Colt McCoy threw three interceptions.
Defensively, the Eagles will try to knock the Redskins out of balance by taking away the ageless Adrian Peterson, who is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has scored six touchdowns.
“He’s found the Fountain of Youth,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins about Peterson, who is 33. “He runs the ball hard and they’re giving him the ball at a pretty significant clip. We have to do a good job bottling that if we want to have any kind of success.”
If the Eagles can do that, the onus will fall on McCoy. The 32-year-old quarterback, who entered the league as a third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2010 hasn’t played much in recent years but is now at the controls after a season-ending injury to Alex Smith. McCoy has had 10 days since his last start to prepare and he will prepare for an Eagles secondary that is starting players who were on the practice squad earlier this year or released in-season due to a litany of injuries.
QUOTES TO NOTE:
“It so late in the season all these games count,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins. “It’s crunch time. We need all hands on deck. With our division being so tight, this game means a lot for the trajectory of our season, so we need everything we got. It’s a unique situation we’re fighting through (with so many injuries in the secondary) but these types of situations make you stronger.”
“It's exciting to watch, a veteran player who has a lot of energy, a lot of juice for that football team,” said head coach Doug Pederson about Redskins running back Adrian Peterson. “Not only that, but I think personally, the way he runs, he runs very violently, very aggressive. Gives them a run game that you have to defend and for a player that - as many touches that he's had in his career, it's good to see that he's playing well and playing at a high level still.”
“That’s a good defense,” said quarterback Carson Wentz. “I see their front is big and physical, linebackers are fast and they like to heat you up and bring pressure from different ways. Secondary is rock solid. It’s exciting because we know it’s a good defense but we both know each other so well, we play each other so often, their scheme hasn’t really changed to much so it’s just going to come down to execution and that’s what we’re excited about.”
MATCHUPS TO WATCH – Eagles offense vs. D.J. Swearinger. The Redskins safety is having a strong season, and has four interceptions. That makes him someone Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz must be aware of when he comes to the line of scrimmage. Exactly how Washington deploys Swearinger remains to be seen .He every well could end up on Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who has rewritten several team records this season, because the Eagles don’t really have a receiving threat worthy of being double-teamed.
Receiver Alshon Jeffery’s targets having decreased as the Eagles try to force recently-acquired Golden Tate into their scheme. In his first four games back from shoulder surgery, Jeffery caught 25 passes. In three games since he has had a combined 16. Tate. Meanwhile, has been targeted 16 times in three games since the Eagles brought him in from Detroit at the trade deadline.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 20, REDSKINS 13