3 and out with Tarik El-Bashir: Keys to beating Philly
A year ago, the Redskins beat the Eagles in Week 11 to kick-start an improbable charge to the playoffs. On Sunday, they’ll head to Philly hoping to forge another season-turning win. Will they get it? That’s unclear. But this much we know: They’re all out of mulligans.
Here are our three keys to the game:
1st down—When the Redskins hosted Philadelphia in September, they didn’t know what to expect. There was no regular season film on Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. And, as a result, the Eagles benefitted from the element of surprise, racking up 443 yards in a 33-27 win. But when the teams meet Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Jim Haslett and Co. will have 10 games of film to study and, according a number of veterans, that should make a world of difference. “There’s a lot more film on what they’ve done …so it’s nice to see on film because you’re not surprised like you are in the first game. Once you get to this game, during the season, they’ve shown most of their wrinkles and you get to see it on film, what adjustments they’ve made and what defenses have done to try and keep them off balance.”
2nd down—The Redskins have struggled all season on punt returns, averaging only 6.1 yards per attempt. That’s 30th in the NFL. On Sunday, it’s possible they’ll have a new returner fielding punts after Nick Williams was promoted from the practice squad. It’s unclear how much of an impact the speedy Williams will have, but it’s possible it will be significant. In Week 4 of the 2010 season, Brandon Banks was signed from the practice squad and provided a huge spark, averaging 25 yards on three returns, including a 53-yarder, to help the Redskins to a 17-12 victory ... over the Eagles. “We’ll see how [Williams] catches punts and kickoffs this week [in practice] when he knows he’s going to be playing on Sunday afternoon,” Shanahan said.
3rd down—In each of the past three games, the Redskins’ defense has struggled down the stretch. Against the Broncos, the unit blew a 21-7 lead. Against the Chargers, they coughed up a 24-14 edge. Last Thursday in Minneapolis, they gave back a 27-14 lead en route to a devastating defeat. While there’s no single reason for the late collapses, this much is obvious: it can’t keep happening if they hope to make a second straight, second half run to the postseason.
Extra point: If the Redskins record 400 yards of offense for a third straight game, that will mark the longest such streak since 1983.