Philadelphia Eagles News

Spadaro: 6 storylines to follow vs. Commanders

Dave Spadaro On the Inside 1920

Each week, prior to kickoff, let's take a look at some of the numbers that matter and keep them in mind when the game begins.

1. The Eagles cornerbacks have a great challenge in this one, going against Washington's excellent arsenal of pass catchers – wide receivers Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson. Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz has thrown seven touchdown passes and all three of his main targets – McLaurin (6 catches, 133 yards, 1 touchdown), Samuel (15-133-2), and Dotson (7-99-3) have produced.

On the Eagles' side of the ball are outside cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry and they have been among the best at their position for many years. Since 2016, Slay (89) and Bradberry (84) have the most passes defensed of any cornerbacks in the NFL. Slay's five passes defensed this season lead the league. He is also, according to Pro Football Focus, the highest-graded cornerback in the NFL since 2021 and in the win over Minnesota he allowed one reception on six targets with two interceptions to star receiver Justin Jefferson. Nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox is also one of the best in the business, and he added a key interception on Monday night. This is strength against strength and it's going to be fascinating to watch. Slay, by the way, is one of only three Eagles of all time to have two interceptions and five passes defensed in a single game, joining Troy Vincent (1999) and Lito Sheppard (2006).

2. Also according to Pro Football Focus, right tackle Lane Johnson has not allowed a quarterback sack since Week 11 of the 2020 season and has not allowed a QB hit since Week 7 of last season. Washington has some punch off the edge, led by Montez Sweat, so again this a matchup of strength against strength.

3. Philadelphia's defense has forced 10 three-and-out series, a percentage of 47.6, and that ranks second-best in the league. Is there a more important number? Takeaways are important, and the Eagles are +3 in that category (four takeaways, one giveaway) and are tied for the third-best plus/minus in the league. Philadelphia values explosive plays (16-plus yards passing, 10-plus yards rushing), and quarterback Jalen Hurts leads the league with 21 of them. Again, these are very important numbers to track on Sunday.

4. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is off to a fine start with six quarterback pressures, three quarterback hits, 1.5 sacks, and one forced fumble in the two wins. Washington has some change along the interior of its offensive line, with starting center Chase Roullier suffering a knee injury last week. He's on Injured Reserve, so what is Washington going to do on Sunday at that critical position? The team's plans haven't been made public, but turning to a new center is a problem for Washington and an opportunity for the Eagles and Cox.

5. What tight end Dallas Goedert is doing after the catch is astounding. He's fourth in the league among all players with 103 yards of YAC and he ranks first among league tight ends in yards per catch (17.8 yards) and is third among tight ends with 142 receiving yards. Goedert is one of many options for Hurts going against a Washington defense that gave up four passing touchdowns last week in its loss to Detroit.

6. The Eagles have gained more than 450 total yards of offense in consecutive games for the first time since the 2017 Super Bowl season – the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LII that season. The last time they gained more than 450 yards of offense in three straight games? You have to go all the way back to December of the 2013 season. Washington has permitted an average of 404 total yards of offense per game through two weeks. Something to ponder ...

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