The Eagles were more than happy to take what the Redskins defense gave them last week. The Redskins dropped both safeties back deep in coverage along with an inside linebacker to limit the Eagles' potential for a deep passing play.
Quarterback Kevin Kolb, and even Michael Vick before he got injured, realized that there were not many opportunities down the field and moved the chains patiently with short throws in the flat and over the middle. The Eagles sustained some successful drives, but were undone at times by penalties, turnovers and unusual circumstances – like what happened at the end of the first half.
In the end, the only result that matters is the score and the Eagles were on the wrong end of a 17-12 decision. This week's opponent, the 49ers, utilizes the same base 3-4 defense as the Redskins. If they decide to take the same approach with their pass rush, what can the Eagles do better to come out with a win?
"You run the football and then you've got to hit all underneath guys and you've got to drive down the field, in many cases, two or three times," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "We had a couple of long drives. We've just got to be better that way."
Good news for the Eagles is that running back LeSean McCoy practiced on Friday and is expected to play despite a rib injury. What will also help is that Kolb, who will start with Vick still injured, took all of the practice reps this week.
"This is the important thing – I think he needs to take what's there. If there's an opportunity down the field, then you take the shot. If the defense takes that away, then you're patient," head coach Andy Reid said. "As an offensive unit you've got to be very disciplined - not only as a quarterback, but as an offensive unit. So you can't have penalties and so on; the negative plays. You take it and work it down the field and punch it in."
And when the opportunity does present itself, Kolb has to be ready to strike.
"It comes down to being very efficient, and then when you get your shots you've got to be ready to pull the trigger and you've got to get them," Mornhinweg said. "And we didn't do either as well as I thought we could there that last ball game."
Kolb's teammates believe that with a primetime audience watching he will be looking to make the most of the moment.
"I think (Kolb) did good (against Washington) and I think he's only going to improve. He hasn't played a full game this season," offensive tackle Winston Justice said. "This is going to be a good opportunity for him and I think he's going to run with it."
"He's been a starter already. We have a lot of confidence in his game," wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. "We're hurt that we lost Vick, but this is great for a guy like Kevin to step in because he's already had the spot and he's used to it."
Of course, Kolb is thrilled to have another opportunity to help the Eagles win.
"We just have to go there and win. That's our number one focus right now,"" Kolb said. ""If I get into all of that (winning the starting job back) then I'm focusing on the wrong thing. My focus right now is to go beat San Francisco and make sure I do by part to do that."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 8:00 p.m., October 9