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What We Think We Know About D

Maybe this is the game the Eagles make the tackles they have missed and catch the interceptions they have dropped. Maybe this is the game in which the players are fast and confident to the football.

Castillo continues to push on, working hard and focusing on the Redskins. Washington does what it does very well offensively. The Redskins control the line of scrimmage, employ a power running game, move the chains with screen passes and short passes and hit up a defense here and there with a play-action pass deep down the field. The running game is a one-cut, zone scheme that head coach Mike Shanahan has used forever.

So there are no secrets. Washington is good because it executes the calls, not because it tries to fool a defense. The Redskins challenge a defense's manhood. There can be no better test for the defense right now as toughness and heart and desire are called upon to save a season.

What changes are in store for the Eagles' defense? Well, it sounds like Kurt Coleman and Jaiquawn Jarrett are going to see time at safety along with Nate Allen. It sounds like the Eagles know that if they don't stop the running game, they don't have a chance, so they are going to make some adjustments to do just that. It sounds like Castillo liked what he saw in the latter stages of the game in Buffalo and he hopes the Eagles play with that kind of intensity from the kickoff forward at FedEx Field on Sunday.

And it sounds like all of the chatter from the week that has been is positive, but that none of us know how that will translate into Sunday's performance.

I'm looking for the defense to set the tone. The right tone, that is.

Castillo's defense needs to come out and knock somebody's block off, in the proverbial sense. The defense needs to play physical, nasty football. The Eagles need to challenge the Redskins on every snap of the ball and understand the impact if that kind of effort is not put forth.

It's been a productive week at the NovaCare Complex. The players have said and done all the right things as they look to end their four-game skid. Let's see how that translates on Sunday ...


  • The Redskins have had a lot of success this year using all three running backs they have, and on Sunday Ryan Torain is expected to get the majority of the carries with Tim Hightower recovering from a shoulder injury. Look out for rookie Roy Helu. He is 220 pounds with a lot of speed and I wonder if the Redskins will use him quite a bit as a change-of-pace back.
  • Danny Watkins is going to be a very fine guard in this league. He isn't there yet, but you will see him improve each week as he learns the NFL game. Watkins is physical, he finishes off his blocks and he gives tremendous effort. It's a huge step for him at this point, but the kid works hard and he is going to get it. Keep an eye on Watkins and center Jason Kelce as they grow together this season.
  • Where is Steve Smith in the offense? He will get his chances, I'm sure, but right now the Eagles are working a beautiful three-man rotation with Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant. All three are getting open on their routes and catching the football well. The turnovers, of course, have been an issue, but I just have this sense that those fumbles are a thing of the past.
  • The key for the Eagles against the running game on Sunday is the play on the edges. Washington runs a stretch play with a cut upfield that is devastating. Both defensive ends are critical and any linebackers shooting gaps have to get to the football quickly. Once Washington turns up the field, the backs are hard to stop.
  • Look out for tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. Cooley is a terrific route runner who catches everything and Davis is athletic with the ability to get up the field. I'm always wary of the play when the quarterback rolls right and throws back to the left sideline. The Eagles defense must play with discipline.
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