Philadelphia Eagles News

Countdown To Kickoff

The Redskins stunned the previously unbeaten Cowboys. The Eagles need to bounce back after a tough loss in Chicago. We break down the X's and O's here in our Countdown to Kickoff ...

BREAKING NEWS

Donovan McNabb's chest contusion is still sore, but he will definitely play against the Redskins. Exactly which weapons he has still seems unsure, though.

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TE L.J. Smith
Running back Brian Westbrook has taken reps in practice all week, but is still listed as questionable. He is expected to be a game-time decision. Both he and tight end L.J. Smith were missed in Chicago last week, for both playmaking and blocking skills. Though Smith is also listed as questionable, Andy Reid seemed to insinuate that Smith would play in his Monday press conference earlier this week.

Their return could cushion the blow of not having guard Shawn Andrews for another week. Andrews is listed as doubtful with the same lower back injury he sustained in Dallas during Week 2. And though Kevin Curtis and Victor Abiamiri began practicing this week, it seems that it will at least be another week before either player can make a significant contribution on the field.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

K David Akers: Akers looks to rebound from his tough game against the Bears and the following week's worth of questions on whether or not he's in the twilight of his career. Free safety Brian Dawkins was given similar treatment after the Cowboys game, but he responded with a stellar contest against Pittsburgh that silenced the critics. Akers will look to follow Dawkins' lead with a good game this week against the Redskins.

CB Sheldon Brown: Brown has the unenviable task of covering Washington wideout Santana Moss, who's second in the league with 421 receiving yards and tied for third in catches with 27. In his last three games against the Eagles, however, Philadelphia's defense has held Moss to just 11 catches for 140 yards and no touchdowns. In fact, Moss has scored only one touchdown against the Eagles in his eight-year career. It came when he was a member of the New York Jets in 2003.

TE Chris Cooley: The Eagles' defense will once again face a top-flight tight end, meaning the young linebackers and their pass-coverage ability will be tested. But Jim Johnson and Co. have done an excellent job containing Cooley in the past, limiting him to 30 total catches and one touchdown in eight career games against Philadelphia. However, Cooley earned his first Pro Bowl berth last season after leading the Redskins with 66 receptions for a career-best 786 yards and eight touchdowns.

SS Chris Horton: The seventh-round draft choice out of UCLA has impressed head coach Jim Zorn enough to earn a starting spot at strong safety just three games into his rookie season. Horton hasn't disappointed; he's tied for second in the league with three interceptions in his first four games. While the Eagles need to be careful, they may go after him because of his lack of experience.

FROM THE COACH'S DESK

For coordinator Jim Johnson, home's been much sweeter to his defense than the road.

Surely it's to be expected that his players want to protect what they call ""the House,"" but it's been put into action loudly this season – visiting teams have put up only nine points (three field goals) in two games at Lincoln Financial Field this season. And continuing the trend would be optimal with division rival Washington coming to town to try to spoil the fun.

Johnson believes it's a rabid mentality that's helping his team prevent big plays and shut offenses down at home.

""I hope it's a mindset this Sunday. On the road, we have given up most of the long pass plays,"" he said. ""That's what is a little disturbing – the long touchdown passes. We have to correct that fast.""

Even on the road, the second half has treated the Eagles' far better than the first. As opposed to giving up 51 points in the first half, Philadelphia has surrendered just 23 after halftime.

In Chicago last week, the defense was able to give the offense a chance to win with a practically flawless second half, but it was to no avail.

""Every game is different. In the Bears game, you know what happened. All of a sudden, they came out on fire and we couldn't slow them down,"" Johnson said. ""We adjusted a little bit, but that doesn't happen every game. I know it has happened twice and in the two games it didn't happen, we shut them down.""

KEEP AN EYE ON ... Points Off Turnovers

The Redskins are tied for the best turnover ratio in the league at 6. In fact, the Redskins offense has not turned the ball over once this season. The lone turnover came on a punt return.

Meanwhile, the Eagles are second in the league in creating turnovers with nine. Only Tennessee has more with 12. Four of the Eagles' nine forced turnovers came in last week's loss to the Chicago Bears (two interceptions, two fumble recoveries). It was the first time the Eagles registered four turnovers in a game since Dec. 17, 2006 against the New York Giants. Coincidentally, the last time the Eagles forced four turnovers in a game and lost was in 2002 against the Giants.

A big reason for the Eagles' demise last Sunday was the fact that the four turnovers only led to six points. The Eagles have scored 26 points off turnovers this season (10th in the NFL), but when you realize that's only 2.88 points per turnover there's reason to be concerned.

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K David Akers in action against the Redskins last season
The question is whether the Eagles will be able to force any turnovers on Sunday. Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is thriving under Jim Zorn's West Coast scheme, a similar operation to the one he ran during his senior year at Auburn when the Tigers went undefeated. In the last meeting against the Eagles, Campbell threw three touchdowns and no interceptions while posting a 114.2 passer rating. He has posted a 100 rating in his past three contests and is second in the NFC with a 102.2 rating. Campbell enters the game with a streak of 146 passes without an interception (124 this year), which is the second-longest in team history.

FIRST AND LONG

  • The Eagles have not allowed a touchdown at home over their last three games, outscoring their opponents 70-18 and holding them to 4-for-36 (11.1 percent success rate) on third down.
  • With 110 points in the first four games of the season, the Eagles are 7th in the NFL, and 4th in the NFC, averaging 27.5 points/game.
  • The Eagles offense currently ranks 5th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage, averaging 381.3 yds./game.
  • The Eagles have started 9 drives in opponent's territory this season, which is 2nd in the NFL behind Tampa Bay (10).
  • The Eagles have been able to move the chains in 2008, racking up 54 passing 1st downs, which is tied for the third-highest total in the NFL.
  • The Eagles defense has been strong against both the run and the pass in 2008, as they lead the league in sacks (17) and are tied for the 1st in TFLs (16), according to Stats, Inc.
  • The Redskins are tied for the NFL lead with a 6 turnover ratio. They have intercepted five passes and recovered two opponent fumbles.
  • In playing the Giants, Saints, Cardinals and Cowboys in the first four weeks, the Redskins faced the NFL's fourth-, third-, fifth- and second-ranked offenses, respectively. The Redskins held each of those teams to their lowest scoring and yardage output of the season. The Eagles' offense is ranked sixth overall.
  • The Redskins have the fourth-best average starting field position in the NFL, at the 29.6-yard line. The kickoff unit has allowed opponents an average starting field position of the 22.3-yard line, fifth-best in the league.
  • Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb is 10-5 (.667) in his career vs. Washington, with 25 TDs vs. 11 INTs. In the last meeting, McNabb had 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 138.5 passer rating.
  • Eagles' WR Reggie Brown has 4 TDs vs. Washington and two went for 45 yards (56, 45).
  • Eagles' DE Juqua Parker has posted a sack in 2 of the past 3 meetings. He has recorded 3.5 sacks in his last 2 games.
  • Redskins' RB Clinton Portis rushed for 137 yards and added 4 catches for 20 yards in the last meeting with Philadelphia. Portis has 6 rushing TDs in past 6 meetings, including 2 games with 2 TDs.
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