LANDOVER, Md. -- First, the report from the end zone at FedEx Field: The grass turf is dry and in good shape, not impacted by the massive rains in the area. The winds, however, could impact this game greatly. Perhaps the winds will subside a bit as the day goes along, but only a couple of hours before kickoff the winds were swirling and gusty and that could alter some plans for the Eagles and the Redskins.
We all knew the weather could have some impact with Hurricane Joaquin still in play, although to much less of a degree than many expected only a few days ago. It's just a windy, chilly early October day in Maryland as Philadelphia and Washington renew a bitter NFC East rivalry.
How do the Eagles win this game and get to 2-2 and get some momentum rolling? They've got to stop the Washington running game, of course, and they need to pressure quarterback Kirk Cousins. Offensively, the Eagles must generate some kind of ground game against a stout front, they must be productive on first downs and successful on third downs, and they need to take a shot or two down the field, despite the winds.
Some thoughts on this big, big, big game ...
- Matt Tobin has a large assignment at right guard. He's not a big guy, by offensive line standards, so his ability to anchor is going to be critical. He'll work primarily against Stephen Paea, a 300-pound end, or Chris Baker, who weighs in at 325 pounds. Tobin has more athletic ability than Andrew Gardner, but he's not particularly powerful. The Redskins are going to try to blow up Tobin and center, Jason Kelce. I can see them trying to crash the line of scrimmage and penetrate and take away the tempo of the running game.
- Not official as I write this, but DeMarco Murray is likely to play and he and Ryan Mathews will share carries. To what degree, I don't know. How about a quick-hitter or two to combat that penetration from the Washington defensive linemen? It's going to be some of that and some runs to the edges, which Mathews had success with early last week against the Jets.
- Washington is without inside linebacker Perry Riley, Jr., and that's a loss. Wouldn't surprise me to see the Eagles get the backs, Darren Sproles included, some looks in the passing game. Wheel route? You bet. Will Compton takes over for Riley and he's going to be challenged in coverage.
- What does no DeSean Jackson mean for the Washington passing game? A lot. Where is the deep threat? The Eagles can concentrate on Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed here. I'm not sure Washington has anyone to go over the top in the passing game.
- Would love to see the Eagles, wind permitting, take a shot down the middle of the field against Washington's safeties. They aren't great. The injury to watch is that to cornerback Chris Culliver, who is questionable to play (nothing official at this point) and will be hampered by a sore knee if he does play. Culliver is an excellent cornerback. If he's not able to be 100 percent, the Eagles have a huge advantage.
- Big game, again, for Sam Bradford. Washington, for whatever reason, has not generated a pass rush this season. Ryan Kerrigan, who destroyed the Eagles here last year, can get off at any time, but at the moment he has just 1/2 quarterback sack. Bradford needs to find his game early. I see a lot of Zach Ertz in his world today.
- The Washington running game is potent and not to be underestimated. The Eagles have a challenge today. No way can they let Cousins get his play-action game going. Even with the wind, Washington will take some shots against this secondary.
- I expect a low-scoring game. And what a tough first assignment, with all of this wind, for new placekicker Caleb Sturgis. These winds are no joke today.
- Is Brent Celek going to be involved in the passing game? He's so important against Kerrigan and Trent Murphy on the other side in blocking. But Celek is my surprise guy today to make a play. He and Riley Cooper. The Eagles need to get Cooper into the passing game.