Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott already had a lot on his plate to digest this week.
He's gameplanning for the Redskins, who have the league's 29th-ranked scoring offense. They do have, however, the most-experienced quarterback to face the Eagles since New Orleans' Drew Brees back in Week 2. McDermott also had to provide new middle linebacker Will Witherspoon a crash course of the defense. Witherspoon was acquired at the trade deadline on Tuesday and is expected to be a three-down linebacker for the Eagles starting on Monday night.
Now, McDermott has to prepare for the change in the Redskins' tendencies as Sherman Lewis is taking over the playcalling duties from head coach Jim Zorn.
"That is an added consideration from our end," McDermott said. "The impact within one week and the magnification of what he can do will only be seen once we get to game time.
McDermott explained that it is likely some adjustments will have to be made. Once the Redskins play their first series, McDermott believes that he will have "a better feel for the direction they are going as an offense."
Tweaks are also going to be made from McDermott's standpoint because of the addition of Witherspoon. As talented as the 6-1, 240-pound Witherspoon is, McDermott is preparing for "growing pains" with him in a new scheme. Luckily for the Eagles, Witherspoon's former team, the Rams, run a very similar defensive gameplan. Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo and McDermott are disciples of the late Jim Johnson. Witherspoon does have to make the change, however, from the weak side to the middle. McDermott added that strong safety Quintin Mikell will continue to wear the defensive headset and relay the play call from the sideline.
McDermott will not have the services of defensive end Victor Abiamiri, who is out this week after suffering a knee injury against the Raiders. Juqua Parker will start at left defensive end have to play more on first and second downs. McDermott will rely more on Chris Clemons and Jason Babin, as well. Clemons has three tackles and a half-sack this season.
"He does bring pass rush ability to the table, so we do want to have him on the field as much as we can and the substitutions are a big part of that, different packages and having the right people on the field at the right time," McDermott said. "Chris is a guy that can get off the ball and create pressure on the quarterback and that's what we'll look to have going forward from Chris."
Facing a more experienced quarterback, McDermott may have to rely on more pressure from the front four instead of a constant blitzing attack. The Raiders' lone touchdown last week came as Macho Harris and Akeem Jordan blitzed and quarterback JaMarcus Russell hit Zach Miller, who broke a tackle and was off for an 86-yard score. McDermott says that you can never have enough pressure, but likes what he's getting from the guys up front.
"It's important that you can get pressure with just the front four and they have given us good pressure," McDermott said. "As I mentioned last week, you can never have enough pressure from a defensive coordinator's standpoint. Those guys are coming off the ball and in third-and-long situations and they're protecting, it's tough to get there. Then it has to come down to coverage, and we are doing a pretty good job on third downs."
A new linebacker. A playcaller who a month ago wasn't in football. The loss of a starting defensive end. Just more new challenges for the first-year defensive coordinator.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 4:18 p.m., October 24