When the Eagles go head-to-head with Washington this weekend, the Redskins will be without wide receiver DeSean Jackson yet again. Missing such a key offensive player has been a major loss for the team.
Head coach Jay Gruden noted what Jackson's absence means to the team during his conference call with the Philadelphia media earlier this week. Without him, Washington's offense lacks the level of explosiveness that they had in the past.
"If you look at our stats without DeSean Jackson, we have zero 40-yard plays. With DeSean, I think he had 16 or something like that on his own last year," Gruden said. "We haven't been getting the big play, and he's a big reason why. I'd say that's the biggest change. Other guys have stepped up and done a good job, but they're not DeSean."
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Gruden also noted that despite a slow offensive start for the Eagles, he and his team know Philadelphia is still dangerous. He believes it's only a matter of time before it begins to click.
The coach explained that with so many new pieces, the players all need time to become familiar with each other, noting that his team has been undergoing a similar process.
"We've been fighting through that same thing with the quarterback changes we've had, not having DeSean last week, our tight end was out last year for a lot. We lost two tight ends. We lost our left guard," Gruden said. "It's difficult to find out the identity of your football team when you're changing. I think they're going to get better. They have good players. They have good coaches, and they're going to get better."
However, the coach's biggest concern heading into this weekend is the matchup between the Redskins' offense and the Eagles' defense. Washington is the fourth-best rushing team in the league, but Philadelphia's defense ranks first in average yards per carry.
Gruden believe this aspect of the game will be the one to watch.
"It's a great matchup. They do a good job on defense. Their defensive line is excellent. They're very disruptive," Gruden said. "They do a lot of line stunts, not only in the pass game but the run game, that are disruptive. Fletcher (Cox) and them do an excellent job of getting tackles for loss and forcing the long yardage and then you're in trouble with a young offensive line. That's going to be the biggest, I think the most important, matchup of the day."
To hear Gruden's conference call with the Philadelphia media in its entirety click here or press play on the video above.