Beat the Redskins. That is all that matters today. We'll leave the headlines to themselves -- for a short time, anyway -- and focus on a couple of matchups the Eagles must win to beat Washington today, start the NFC East schedule off the right way and get to 3-1. It begins, of course, with the defense.
1. Contain WR Santana Moss
Donovan McNabb will force the ball to Moss all day. The Redskins will scheme to get him the football and unless the Eagles dedicate double teams to Moss, the veteran will get his catches.
"He's still very good out of his cuts, quick, great hands," said cornerback Asante Samuel. "He is still one of the best."
So what do the Eagles do? They have to bracket Moss at least a little bit, and there may be times when they press him at the line of scrimmage and send a blitz and pray that it gets home against McNabb. I wouldn't mind seeing Samuel follow Moss around the field a little bit, too.
2. Get DeSean Jackson Involved Early
It sure seemed like there was a conscious effort to do this last week. Jackson had a big game against Jacksonville, but he also missed several opportunities when he could have added to his total. Washington's cornerbacks are physical and they are experienced, and they play a very confident game.
But nobody on the Redskins roster can stay with Jackson one on one. The Eagles have to put him in motion and get him the football in space early in this game. Make the Redskins chase him. Do the Redskins have the team speed to catch Jackson? It's a good cat-and-mouse game, and, by the way, Jeremy Maclin has 4 touchdown catches and is very tough to handle, too.
3. Limit McNabb Out Of The Pocket
Through three games, McNabb has had great success rolling to his right and throwing deep down the field. He has enough arm to throw back to his left, too. The edge players for the Eagles have to dominate, then, and play contain on McNabb. Trent Cole, Darryl Tapp, Juqua Parker and Brandon Graham have to keep McNabb in the pocket and they have to hit him low to bring him down. He is too strong to tackle high.
The Eagles are better than is Washington at the line of scrimmage through three games. And with rookie left tackle Trent Williams questionable, well, let's say Cole is pretty excited about having the chance to go after McNabb from the blind side.
The defense can't bite on play fakes and on bootlegs. There has to be aggressive discipline from the entire defense.
4. Fans Can Make A Statement
How will Eagles fans react? Doesn't it bother you that the national media are just waiting for Eagles to embarrass themselves, it seems. This is an opportunity to give McNabb the pre-game ovation that he deserves for his 11 outstanding seasons here, and then once the game begins, he is just another Redskin.
These fans need to demonstrate class and not subject themselves to the pressure of "making a name" for the fans once again. I'm sick of reading about the snowball incident with Santa Claus way back when. Eagles fans are great, supportive to the very end and their passion is the envy of the league.
Don't stoop to the level the national media expects.
*NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT *
- How do the Eagles contain tight end Chris Cooley? This is a big part of the game, and Akeem Jordan is coming off one of his best weeks as an Eagle. He has a lot of responsibility. Can the Eagles put enough pressure on McNabb that Washington has to keep Cooley in the pass protection to help McNabb?
- I want to see London Fletcher chase down Michael Vick on a scramble. I think Vick is just too fast for the Washington defense, should he choose to scramble.
- We haven't talked special teams all week. It is windy early in the afternoon in South Philadelphia, so maybe Jackson will be back on punt returns. Jorrick Calvin did a nice job in Jacksonville, but with all of this wind is it the right move? Keep an eye on the wind today.
- My guess: The Eagles score 31 wins in a big win. I'm feeling it ...