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#HailMail: 2017 Eagles Week

Posted Oct 19, 2017

Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about the Redskins' roster and more as the team prepares for a Week 7 matchup with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about the Redskins' roster and more as the team prepares for a Week 7 matchup with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.


@JWallMVP asks: knowing that we lost to the Eagles 1st game of the season, now going back to Philly, what are the main keys?

The Redskins are seeking to exact revenge on their NFC East rivals after the Eagles scored a 30-17 Week 1 victory at FedExField in Landover, Md, and it could come down to the quarterback play.

While Philadelphia struggled to run the ball against Washington’s defense, quarterback Carson Wentz made the unit pay multiple times by extending plays.

On the defense’s opening drive of the season, it looked as if the Redskins were ready to record a massive third down sack. Instead, Wentz escaped two different Redskins to launch a 58-yard bomb for a touchdown.

After the game, the Redskins spoke of the frustration of not getting Wentz down, but admitted they’d learn from their mistakes from not taking down the second-year quarterback.

“Quarterbacks who can move around like that and make throws on the run, it puts us in a tight spot, but we have to make more plays,” said linebacker Mason Foster at the time. “We were right there. We will go look at it and get it corrected and just keep getting better and try to make this the last one like that.”

Wentz’s hot start has extended through the first month and a half of the season, as he enters Monday’s game with 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions while passing for more than 1,500 yards.

So stopping the quarterback won’t be easy, especially with uncertainty in the defensive backfield. It isn’t clear yet whether cornerbacks Josh Norman (rib) and Bashaud Breeland (knee) will play.

“It’ll be a great challenge because he’s playing extremely well,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. They’re 5-1 for a reason and he’s a major part of that. He’s got a great rapport with the receivers right now. They’re playing at a high level, so our guys will have to step up. That’s just the way it is. There’s a lot of teams around the National Football League this time of the year that are dealing with key injuries at certain positions and we just had a couple of them at the corner spot. So Fabian [Moreau], [Quinton] Dunbar – they’ll have to step up and play well – [Joshua] Holsey, [Kendall] Fuller.”

While Wentz had a strong showing the opener, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins struggled. He had three turnovers including two crucial mistakes in the fourth quarter. First, Cousins threw an interception in the red zone on third down at a time when the Redskins were only trailing by two points.

Then after the defense held the Eagles to a field goal late, the Redskins had an opportunity to win the game with less than two minutes left, trailing by only five.

But on a 2nd-and-3 dropback from Cousins, the quarterback had the ball jarred from his possession. The Eagles grabbed his fumble and turned it into a touchdown.

Since that performance, though, Cousins has been among the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s thrown eight touchdowns to just one interception in Washington’s last four games. Cousins has also been able to keep opposing defenses on their toes by dispersing the ball to multiple targets.

Six different Redskins have at least 11 receptions on the season.

“I think any time we have a route combination, I think he trusts everybody involved in the pattern and he’s seeing things pretty clearly, getting to his right reads and right progressions,” Gruden said this week. “It’s all about reading the defenses, going through your progressions and the line giving him time and then trusting the guys to make the plays for you.”

Grimm asks: #hailmail fatrob a go???

We won’t know Rob Kelley’s game status until Saturday afternoon when the Redskins complete the week of practices, but Gruden did say this week that the running back will return practice after not participating at all last week.

Kelley, of course, did not play in last Sunday’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers as he still wasn’t quite at full strength. In his place, the Redskins once again relied on the combination of Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson.

The two running backs combined for 56 rushing yards on 25 carries while Kirk Cousins chipped in 26 rushing yards and a score on the ground as well. Perine also scored his first NFL touchdown on a three-yard reception from the quarterback.

Kelley has been slowed by rib and ankle injuries so far this year, as he did not play against either the 49ers or Oakland Raiders. He was also removed from games against the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs as well.

So the only game he’s been fully healthy in this year was the regular season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

His return, though, could help a Redskins offense that’s going against the league’s No. 1 rush defense, as the Eagles allow just 65.7 yards on the ground per game. That’s nearly five yards less than any other team in the NFL.

The Eagles haven’t allowed any running backs to come close to 100 yards on the ground and limited the Carolina Panthers’ running backs to just one yard on 13 carries last week.

Now, if Kelley can’t play on Monday night, Gruden remains confident that Perine can be effective in the Tulane product’s place.

After not recording a single offensive snap in Washington’s first game against Philadelphia, Perine has recorded 55 carries for 166 yards over the Redskins’ last four contest.

“The more opportunities he gets, the better he is going to get,” Gruden said. “He is not a finished product by any stretch. He is a rookie. He is feeling himself through it, but I am just looking for more decisive cuts by him and more physical runs. That’s just what we expect from Samaje and I know he expects that himself.” 

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