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Reed Doughty: 'It's Always A Must-Win'

Posted Nov 13, 2013

Throw out the debate over must-wins as the Washington Redskins find themselves in a do-or-die situation for the rest of the season, starting this Sunday in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Eagles were expected to have an explosive, high-octane offense.

It’s the way the offense has developed behind second-year quarterback Nick Foles that is surprising.

Last season, Foles made his first career start against the Washington Redskins and performed like your typical rookie appointed the responsibility of leading an NFL team for the first time.

He struggled to match fellow 2012 draft classmate/Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s near flawless afternoon, throwing two interceptions to no touchdowns.

Fast-forward exactly one year later and Foles is having a historic season after spending the season opener at FedExField on the bench.

With 16 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a gaudy quarterback rating of 132.3, Foles provides a different element to Chip Kelly’s offense than Michael Vick does.

Regardless of who is behind center, veteran defensive end Kedric Golston said the defense must improve on Week 1’s performance where Philadelphia gained nearly 450 yards of total offense.

“I think that he understands the system,” Golston said in attribution to Foles’ success. “He’s an NFL quarterback just like Mike is and they both have their strengths and weakness and Nick is doing a great job obviously with seven touchdowns a week ago [and] three this past Sunday. 

“So whatever he’s doing, he’s doing a good job at it. Getting the ball to his receivers and running that offense.”

Safety Reed Doughty echoed his longtime teammate’s sentiment, acknowledging his patience as a factor in his year two improvement.

“He’s very patient,” Doughty said. “We’ve seen him have some very good success with the seven touchdowns and he looked poised [against Green Bay] throwing the ball down the field and it looked like the receivers made some plays as well.

“I think we’ll have our hands full, but we just have to get the game plan together and give it our best shot.”

Predicated on the big play, the Eagles offense has registered an impressive 61 plays of 20-plus yards this season.

Many of those plays have come from wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who is nearing his third 1,000-yard season. He has never reached that mark this quickly, though.

With 23 receptions for 320 yards and two touchdowns in four NFC East contests this season, Jackson has created mismatch problems on the outside with his ability to stretch defenses.

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who will likely line up against him on Sunday, said he and the rest of the defense must focus on the fundamentals and make sure not to bite on possible option and screen plays that allow Jackson to get free.

“It’s about executing, getting down to the fundamentals, tackling [and] doing the little things that we have been doing since we were little kids to be successful in football,” Hall expressed this week. “That’s what we have to get back to, that’s what we have to hang our hat on to win football games.”

Unlike the Andy Reid Era where the offense focused efforts on the short passing game and dominating the time of possession, Kelly’s up-tempo offense is all about putting points on the board in a hurry, winding the defense in the process.

Last in the NFL in time of possession at just a shade over 25 minutes per game, the Eagles also enter Sunday’s game exuding high-level confidence with 10 touchdowns in the last two games.

Golston thinks that’s the biggest difference facing them over two months after the season opener.

“I think they are more confident in what they’re doing,” Golston said. “They pick and choose now when they’re running the up-tempo and when they don’t. Obviously they have the same plays [and] Nick Foles is playing well.

“That adds a different dynamic to the offense, but they’re still very high powered.”

While the passing game has quickly jelled around Foles, running back LeSean McCoy poses a different threat on the ground.

Leading the league with 932 rushing yards, McCoy’s production hasn’t seen any drop-off despite the change at quarterback.

Rushing for 61 yards in the opening quarter of the season, Reed Doughty said the defense must make sure the Eagles don’t duplicate that success again this time around.

“They ran the up-tempo [and] got us off our heels early,” Doughty admitted. “Once you’re down a few scores it’s hard to combat an offense like that because it opens up everything and takes away our ability to run the ball, so we’re definitely going to have to start on a better foot this time.”

With four games remaining against the division, the Redskins once again control their own destiny in pursuit of a playoff berth.

But before they can talk about playing in the postseason, DeAngelo Hall said the execution must pick up. Otherwise the talk of playoffs in the wide-open NFC East will be moot.

“It’s not going to matter,” the NFL leader in defensive touchdowns said. “We can talk about everybody else but the bottom line is we have to be better. We can’t expect to make it to the playoffs and expect to do anything in the playoffs playing the way we’ve been playing. It’s pointless to even get there.

“You want to play good football toward this time of the season because that’s the only way you can make it to the playoffs.”

Agreeing, Doughty said the focus must start from the inside.

“We’ve known for a while we control our own destiny,” he said. “Starting 0-3 and winning and few games and looking at that and saying, ‘We have a shot, we have a shot, we have a shot’; well you have to win a game.

“You have to win games you’re supposed to win and we’re going to have to win some games we’re not supposed to win. It’s always a must-win.”

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