Eagles Opposition Report: Redskins Offense

Eagles Opposition Report: Redskins Offense

The Eagles will face the surprisingly 3-1 Washington Redskins this week. Here's a look at what the Skins will field on the offensive side of the ball.

QB Rex Grossman
The man who first called the Redskins the team to beat in the East backed that statement up in his first two starts, throwing for 305 and 291 yards, respectively, and a pair of TDs in each. This continued a trend of big yardage days for Grossman as a Redskins QB, after Rex threw for 300 yards in two of his three starts at the end of last season. However, he came back to earth in week 3, the Skins' only loss on the season to date, though he still put up 250, a TD, and a pick. In week 4 we saw a bit more of what we'd been expecting from Grossman, when he completed just 15 of 29 against the Rams for 143 yards, a score, and two picks. Rotoworld says Grossman was lucky to only be picked twice, and it would seem the Skins were lucky to win that game given that both interceptions were thrown in the fourth quarter. With some pressure, the Eagles should be able to get him to lob a few up in this one.

RB Ryan Torain
As the Shanahan Backfield Turns, Torain is currently the hot hand in DC. At least, he was before their week 5 bye. It's anyone's guess who gets the abundance of carries on Sunday, because Shanny likes to keep everyone guessing, including his own running backs. Torain is plenty good though, when healthy, which is rare, but he currently is. The 6'1, 220 lb RB beat the Eagles for 70 yards on 18 carries last season, which isn't anything special, but he also a lugged in a TD last season, absolutely trucking Quintin Mikell for the score. More recently, Torain rumbled for 135 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in week 4. Provided he gets the larger share of the carries on Sunday, Torain represents the biggest threat to the Eagles' ability to contain the Redskins' offense.  

RB Tim Hightower
Dubbed the starter heading into the season, Hightower started strong this year but seems to have lost his RB1 role to Torain at least temporarily. He's also nicked up, limited in practice all this week despite coming out of the bye. He's a decent threat on the ground and in the passing game, and along with Torain, could pose a problem for an Eagles defense that has been terrible against the run. Roy Helu could also be in the mix for some carries on Sunday. Whoever looks best early could get the most in this somewhat random backfield distribution, but we assume Torain will carry the load unless his annual injury takes him down. [Update: Looks like Hightower could be third in line, behind Torain and Helu.]

WR Santana Moss
Moss has a pair of TDs on the season and some decent yardage totals, but hasn't really broken out yet, with no games over 80 yards receiving nor 6 catches. Despite being 32 years old, Moss is still a big play threat and the most dangerous weapon the Skins have through the air. He could see some gaps in coverage if the running attack sets the Eagles D on its heels, and he won't need much space to make a difference. Moss will have his hands full though, regardless of which DB he draws.

WR Jabar Gaffney
Yep, the former Eagle is still hanging around, and he's contributing to the Skins offense on a weekly basis. Gaffney is averaging about 60 yards receiving each week, with 54 as his least and 62 twice. He's only found the end zone once, but he's been active in every contest so far, and Rex has found him a handful of times.

WR Anthony Armstrong
Armstrong is nicked up and hasn't played since week 2, but he looks like he could go on Sunday. He's a boom or bust guy, who could turn in a meager 20 yards, or could grab one pass for 80 and the house. Armstrong is questionable with a hammy this week. [Update: Armstrong is inactive]

TEs Fred Davis and Chris Cooley
Cooley's the guy making headlines lately, but that's only because he made fun of Tony Romo's penchant for choking away leads in the fourth quarter. Davis, a second-round pick in 2008, found the end zone 6 times last season but has only seen it once in 2011. Still, he's had two very productive games, though he's cooled off considerably in his past two showings heading into the bye. Cooley has only seven catches on the season, four of which came in Dallas in week 3, when he also lined up at fullback for a few snaps. Still, despite not setting the world on fire lately, this TE tandem could find some seams in an Eagle defense that isn't built to stop them.

Photo: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

BOX SCORE

For as much as the Sixers’ bigs are talked about, Richaun Holmes often is left out of the conversation. 

He’s not the centerpiece of the team like Joel Embiid nor was he heavily involved in trade talks like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. He is the backup center who bides his time on the bench and quietly stays ready when he gets the nod.

And on Friday, he was the standout player in the Sixers’ 120-112 win over the Wizards (see Instant Replay)

“He’s been sort of the person that people forget about because of the logjam of five men,” Brett Brown said. “We all sort of think, ‘Well, he should just accept it because he’s behind Joel and Nerlens and Jahlil. Good ol’ Richaun. Go to the D-League and it’s OK.’ And that doesn’t work. He’s a pro, he’s competitive. He’s handled it. He’s really been a wonderful teammate.”

Holmes was bumped up in the rotation following the trade of Noel to the Mavs. He moved into the second-unit role while Okafor started in place of the injured Embiid. 

Holmes recorded his first double-double with 12 points (6 for 9 from the field) and 10 rebounds (three offensive). He also blocked a career-high five shots, tying Embiid for the most by a Sixer this season. The second-year big man put together this impressive performance in 26 minutes off the bench. 

“Just play hard,” Holmes said of his approach. “Just go out there, show what you’ve been working on, play hard every second you’re out there. That’s the motto I’ve got.”

Holmes is averaging 16.1 minutes and has appeared in just 32 of the Sixers’ 57 games. This season he also spent time with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League to get playing time. Holmes embraced an opportunity similar to Friday’s a month ago when he scored 18 points in as many minutes against the Clippers. 

“I try to approach every game this season the same way, whether everybody was playing or people were hurt,” Holmes said. “Prepare like I’m going to play 30 minutes a game. I think having that mindset helped me to stay ready at all times and be aggressive when I had a chance.”

Brown did not rule out the possibility that Holmes could start at some point if he continues this production. The Sixers are limiting Okafor to 20 to 24 minutes per game, according to Brown. That, combined with Embiid’s injury, could lend itself to an increased role for Holmes. 

“I think in that environment, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for Richaun to get a start from time to time,” Brown said. 

Even if he remains on the second unit, Holmes proved he can provide a spark off the bench. Dario Saric noted how Holmes’ impact on both ends of the floor bolsters the frontcourt in addition to a more offensively-minded Okafor (11 points, two rebounds). 

“I think he played unbelievably good in both ways,” Saric said. “Everybody knows he’s an elite guy finishing around the rim, and he stepped in Nerlens’ place, he replaced him unbelievably good. I hope he will get the same minutes for the next game because we have Jahlil, who is more like a post-up player, who likes more to score from the low-post block, and we for sure need some guy like Richaun who will play in both ways." 

Perhaps the person least surprised by Holmes' game was Holmes himself. It was the result he puts in long hours to produce.

“It’s all about the grind,” he said. “All about keep working, keep trying to move up, keep trying to get better every second and it’ll pay off.” 

Ilya Bryzgalov talks goalies playing in contract year, Las Vegas and more

Ilya Bryzgalov talks goalies playing in contract year, Las Vegas and more

Gotta love Bryz, right?

Former Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was his usual humorous, unpredictable self in a recent interview with Sportsnet.ca's Luke Fox.

From what he's doing now to talking pressure as a goalie, here are some of the highlights ...

On a goalie's mental state when job security is up in the air (referenced to Flyers goalie Steve Mason)
“So many goalies take the job for a long time, so it’s easy to be out of game. You worry. You want to find a long-term job, pay bills. It’s not a secret. That’s why when there’s no [contractual] certainty and you don’t see 100 percent confidence from your team, it might affect your game. If the season’s not going well, you start thinking about it.”

On his son playing goalie
"He chose it. He’s the guy who gives his team a chance to win. Make some saves. But he plays as a player once a week, too. Shoots the puck on goalies every Wednesday pretty much.”

On being a hockey dad
“I’m pretty calm. I only get upset when I see the referees make the bad calls. The kids work so hard and play so passionately, you can’t take sides. Only when the referee’s unfair.”

On being a pro hockey player in Las Vegas
"I’m family guy, settled down. I’ve never been too emotional or casino-addicted. For me, no problem. For the young guys to play there, it causes trouble, man. Difficult trouble. … The young ones with the cash? Las Vegas can provide lots of scenes, know what I mean?"

The rest is just as good. For the full Q&A, read Fox's article right here.

Also, Bryzgalov will be a part of Sportsnet's trade deadline coverage next Wednesday.

And side note: Bryz remains active on Twitter. And remains random as ever.

Just look at his last tweet ...