The Eagles' first meeting with the Robert Griffin III-era Redskins did not go the way the Eagles had planned. Very little went right for the Eagles in their Week 11 contest as the Redskins rolled to a 31-6 home victory. So as the Eagles prepare for the rematch, it's not hard to understand why they prefer to look forward, not back.
Griffin III didn't throw often in that game, but he made the Eagles pay when he did, finishing 14-of-15 for 200 yards and four touchdowns. The Redskins offense took advantage of the Eagles' miscommunications on defense, something the defensive backs are keenly aware of this time around.
"They basically did what they wanted to against us, as far as the run and pass. So the main thing is to go out there competing and trying to get a win," said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. "Obviously, you just have to be more disciplined. A few times we gave up a few big plays off of coverage breakdowns and not being in the right spots."
The secondary had been an issue throughout the season, but the defense as a whole has improved in recent weeks. Scheme changes along the defensive line have had a ripple effect, simplifying things for the secondary and helping reduce miscommunication.
The changes have also increased the pressure generated by the front seven. In the last two games, the Eagles have compiled eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans expects that trend to continue, so long as the Eagles continue to play like they have been — and not like they did against the Redskins.
"I don't look at the first game – it was just a lot of busts," Ryans said. "You saw guys are wide open and (Griffin III) didn't have to do anything special but chuck the ball up there and let the guys catch it because they were so wide open. If we are able to just get pressure on them with our defensive line and just cover the guys, we'll be fine."
The defense will also have the added benefit of experience. Having already played the Redskins a little more than a month ago, the Eagles can watch the film and figure out what they did right, what they need to fix and which new wrinkles they can add.
"Any time it's the second time around you can see where the mistakes were made and you can fix that," said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. "I think that's the benefit that we have this game, is going back to the last game and seeing what didn't work; seeing what didn't work from the other teams that played them, because they've been playing well against pretty much everyone they've played since us."
Understandably, the Eagles aren't eager to re-live that dreary afternoon in Landover, Md. They've long since put the game behind them, as professional athletes must do. They're going to correct the mistakes, put the work in during the week and look for a win to close out the year at Lincoln Financial Field.
"It's kind of hard to remember because it's something I put in the past," defensive end Trent Cole said. "That's just me. I don't worry about the past, I move forward. It's about what's going on now. That's what it is. It's about what's going to happen this Sunday and what we're going to do in practice here starting today. Going out there and fix what we can fix so we don't have any problems going back into this game and we can go out and win the game."
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