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Eagles Search For Needed Victory

Posted Nov 17, 2012

We're at the point where the term "desperate" applies to the Eagles, a team that has lost five straight games. It's fair to say that the Eagles need a win so very, very badly ...

Look, I'm like you. I know how disappointed you are that the Eagles are 3-6. Heck, everybody who loves this team feels that way. But we're also on the precipice of Eagles-Redskins, and I've got the nerves going, the blood boiling and, yeah, my stomach is churning.

Deep inside of me I have this daydream that Nick Foles provides the spark and the team comes to life and the Eagles beat Washington and then take care of Carolina a week from Monday and go into Dallas playing for first place in the NFC East.

It's a long shot, but maybe it's not. Is it that unreasonable to think that the Eagles can win these two games and Dallas can trip up against either Cleveland or Washington and that ...

Wait, hold on. I know, I know. It doesn't pay to look ahead. Let's start a one-game winning streak and go from there.

So how do the Eagles beat Washington? Clearly, the first order of business is to establish something with an offense that has an extraordinary amount of change, from Nick The Kid (Foles) starting at quarterback to an ever-changing offensive line to asking Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson to expand their roles given the absence of slot receiver Jason Avant.

This isn't a situation where the Eagles have to make one substitution and away we go on offense. There are a lot of moving pieces that have to come together under the direction of Nick Foles, rookie quarterback, the sixth first-year signal caller to start a game this year.

Don't expect the Eagles to be conservative on offense. The weakness in Washington's defense in the Redskins' nine games this season has been the secondary, so to ignore that just because a rookie is starting at quarterback is something I just don't expect the Eagles to do. They like to throw the ball. They want to gash the defense early. They want to put the Redskins on their collective heels.

And so they are going to ask Foles to run the offense as it is constructed. The Eagles will use multiple formations, they'll spread the field and they'll go with an empty backfield at times, inviting a Redskins blitz and having confidence that Foles will read the pass rush and find the right receiver and make Washington think twice the next time a blitz is ordered. Jim Haslet is a fine defensive coordinator. He is going to give Foles a lot of different looks and he's going to try to create enough pressure to force the rookie into some bad decisions.

So the Eagles need to score points. They need to have balance on offense. They need to find LeSean McCoy some open field to make plays. And they have to give Foles a chance to succeed and believe that it will happen, as I believe.

Defensively, wow, it's a challenge. Not that Washington is so loaded with weapons, because the Redskins are still putting their pieces together. The running back, Alfred Morris, is having a tremendous rookie season. The offensive line is so-so. The receivers are OK, but they haven't been as productive as some of the other groups the Eagles have seen this year.

What Washington has is rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, a special talent who has energized the franchise. Griffin's quickness, his speed and his versatility cause any defense to prepare specifically for him, and the Eagles must do that. They have to be disciplined staying in their lanes, and the ends can't crash down the line of scrimmage any time there is a play-action fake out of the Redskins' "pistol" formation.

What you will see is Griffin in the shotgun, with a single running back in the formation. Griffin takes the snap and meets with Morris, who will then either receive the handoff or move through the fake as Griffin rolls to his right.

If the Eagles' left defensive end, Jason Babin and Brandon Graham generally, runs down the line of scrimmage on the play-action fake, the defense has a gaping hole on the edge.

The defense, then, has to adjust to take away Griffin's speed to the edge, and to limit his options with the football. The secondary can't leave their coverage to run up and try to halt Griffin when he shows run, because Griffin is talented enough to string the play along and keep his run/pass option.

It's a challenge, all around. The Redskins are struggling, obviously, but they have a different mindset this season. Head coach Mike Shanahan is in rebuilding phase with the Redskins, and he's been given the luxury of developing a quarterback and an offense as the injury-plagued defense limps through 2012. 

I know we're all watching Foles. Heck, I watched him all the way down to our Maryland hotel, near FedEx Field. I wanted to see what he wore on the train -- buttoned-up shirt, slacks, looking like every other 23-year-old kid. He blended right in.

In his first start, Foles is going to stick out like at no other time in his career. Every set of eyes will be on his every move from the moment he arrives at the stadium.

But this game is more than Foles. It is another chance to get back in the game in the NFC East. As long as there is a chance, there is hope. And Sunday against Washington is another chance for hope to come alive for all of us with a win, a much-needed win.

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