Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eagles Use Big Plays to Sink the Sherman's

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins

The Eagles must be spending some time watching their brothers in red pinstripes across the street. They hit a few home runs early to build a lead and hung on to win, bouncing back from last week's disappointing loss. Meanwhile, the Redskins new Sherman Brothers offensive scheme proved to be more of the same, laden with turnovers and unfortunate plays.

DeSean Jackson and recently acquired Will Witherspoon were the stars, scoring touchdowns on big plays to stake the Eagles to a 27-7 first half advantage. Jackson got things started on the first series, by taking the ball on an end around and racing past Redskins defenders for a 67-yard touchdown. Witherspoon added to that lead at the end of the quarter when he slid under a tipped pass and shot into the end zone from 9 yards out.

The new Eagles linebacker was at it again on the 3rd play of the Redskins ensuing series, sacking Jason Campbell and forcing him to fumble. Quinton Mikell recovered at the Redskins 36, but after a 3 and out, the Eagles settled for a David Akers 47-yard field goal to make it 17-0.

Campbell and Rock Cartright led Washington to get on the board. The Redskins got great field position when Cartright returned the kickoff 42 yards and Macho Harris was penalized an additional 15 yards for an illegal block. The team quickly drove 45 yards, with Cartright contributing an 11-yard run and Campbell going 4-4, including a 2-yard scoring pass to Devin Thomas.

The Eagles tacked on a field goal after another Redskins fumble to make it 20-7. Immediately after the 2-minute warning, Donovan McNabb found a wide open Jackson deep down the left sideline on a 3rd and 22 play, who bounded into the end zone for a 57-yard scoring play. The Skins mounted a short drive that resulted in a field goal at the end of the first half.

Both teams took turns sputtering on offense in the second half, trading punts back and forth. Campbell strung together some good passes late in the game, tossing his second TD of the contest with 1:38 left on the clock to close out the scoring at 27-17.

Although the Eagles won, Brian Westbrook was knocked out at the end of the first quarter when he took a knee to the head, and left the game with a concussion. With two important division games against the Giants and Cowboys coming up, his absence would be a big blow. Additionally, Jackson sprained a foot on his scoring reception, but it is anticipated that he will play next week.

If Jim Zorn were a fan, his sideline view and having access to listen into the play calls would have been exciting. Unfortunately, Zorn is still the head coach, and seemed to be struggling to figure out what to do and how to act. He looked on helplessly as the Sherman's led the offense to a number of turnovers, penalties and ineffective plays. Apparently that was the intent of the Redskins executives, perhaps so he could experience what they have in watching the struggling team.

Overall, the Eagles used Jackson's explosiveness and the defense's attacking style to hit a few home runs, but were not able to put together any consistency or sustained drives. The team's offensive personality has definitely shifted to reflect the big play abilities of young receivers Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, so this might be expected, but in order to fulfill the team's Super Bowl expectations, they will also need to be able to develop more consistency on offense. Losing Westbrook, who looked spry and elusive early on, would certainly make that objective more difficult as back-up LeSean McCoy has not demonstrated the same explosiveness or ability to turn 3 yards into 5 or 6.

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins

A win is a win, especially in hostile territory against a team that has had their number of late. Also, the Redskins do have a solid defense, so lets credit the team more for the long scoring strikes as opposed to bemoaning their lack of offensive continuity. Washington is a team that has been embarrassed by their play and the actions of their front office, so the bright lights of Monday night and extra adrenaline to save face served as additional motivators. And, the Redskins defense has been impacted less as their coaches have been afforded the opportunity to still call the shots.

The win allowed the Eagles to keep pace with the Cowboys at 4-2, and move to within 1/2 game of the Giants, who dropped to 5-2 with their loss yesterday to the Cardinals. Sunday has the potential to be a red letter day in Philadelphia with the Big Apple teams visiting the Linc and the Bank for an afternoon, evening football, baseball doubleheader with huge import. Needless to say, successful days by the Eagles and Phillies could make for one of the most memorable days in Philadelphia sports history. Although a few early long balls might be enough to propel each team to victory, both would prefer to sustain their offensive attacks throughout the game.

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