The final game of the regular season against the defending Super Bowl champions could be the decider for the NFC East division title and/or a playoff berth for the Redskins.
Philadelphia Key Additions: Signed WR Mike Wallace (Ravens), Markus Wheaton (Bears), DT Haloti Ngata (Lions), LB Corey Nelson (Broncos), Acquired DE Micheal Bennett (Seahawks) and Drafted TE Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State)
Philadelphia Key Subtractions: RB LeGarette Blount, TE Trey Burton, DE Vinny Curry, CB Patrick Robinson, S Corey Graham and WR Torrey Smith.
One of the reasons the Eagles were so successful last season was because of their dominating defense, which gave up only 18.4 points per game. Philadelphia was a Top-5 defense during the regular season, giving up the fourth fewest yards per game in the NFL with a 306.5 average.
The Eagles got stronger in the pass rush and in stopping the run when they picked up defensive tackle Haloti Ngata from free agency. Not only has the 13-year veteran made almost 500 career stops, he has given quarterbacks nightmares. Ngata has been an effective pass rusher both in Baltimore and Detroit, coming up with 31.5 career sacks.
With new free agent linebacker Paul Worrilow suffering a torn ACL during OTAs in May, it will be up to linebacker Corey Nelson to assist Nigel Bradham. Despite just playing five games last season, the fifth-year linebacker had a respectable third year with the Broncos in 2016 when he had a career-high in tackles with 67 and passes defensed with five.
Passing defense was not necessarily an issue in Philadelphia, but is a topic that can be improved on to make another Super Bowl run. The Eagles’ defense ranked fourth-overall statistically, but only managed to rank 17th in the league in passing yards per game with 227.3 yards per game average.
Losing cornerback Patrick Robinson hurts Philadelphia’s secondary, but the Eagles now look to second-year corner Sidney Jones to fill the hole. Even though the six-foot corner suffered a torn achilles during his pro day that sidelined him for a majority of the 2017 season, he was promoted to the active roster in the regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. Jones only came up with two tackles, but he is expected to play a larger role in Philadelphia’s defense.
A potential contributor that is looked upon as a sleeper since he was a fifth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is former Pittsburgh corner Avonte Maddox. While the rookie corner is small for his size at 5-foot-9, he showcased his tremendous athleticism and speed. Maddox ran his 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the NFL Combine and came up with a 125-inch broad jump.
Not only has Maddox proven that he can be effective with his skills, but that he can play a key part in the pass rush. All of his tackles for loss resulted in sacks and the Eagles could have a potential weapon to make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.
If the Redskins are going to have success against the Eagles this season, especially the last game of the season at FedExField, they will have expose the holes in their defense. That, however, has not necessarily been an easy task.
During the first meeting in 2017, Philadelphia forced the Redskins to two fumbles and an interception that resulted in a 30-17 victory and no fourth quarter points for Washington. Although the Redskins put up 24 points on the Eagles’ defense, Philadelphia was able to come up with four straight stops on Washington’s final drive that gave them a 10-point win in Week 7.
With a new starting quarterback commanding the offense in Alex Smith, the Redskins could surprise the Eagles with their firepower, hoping to reestablish their previous multi-season win-streak over Philadelphia.