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

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The likelihood of the Phillies going with a rookie backup catcher in 2017 increased dramatically when the Miami Marlins signed free agent A.J. Ellis on Wednesday.

Ellis spent the final month of the 2016 season with the Phillies after coming over from the Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade. Ellis, 35, got high marks for his work with the Phillies’ young pitching staff and the Phils had some interest in bringing him back. The interest, however, was complicated by a tight 40-man roster, which already includes three catchers — starter Cameron Rupp and minor-league prospects Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp.

With Ellis out of the picture, the Phillies will likely use either Alfaro or Knapp as the backup catcher in 2017. Knapp spent a full year at Triple A in 2016 and could end up being the guy as Alfaro moves to Triple A for another year of seasoning.

General manager Matt Klentak spoke earlier this week of the possibility of going with a rookie at backup catcher.

“Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A,” Klentak said. “He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

It’s not all that surprising that Ellis ended up with the Marlins on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He played for Marlins manager Don Mattingly during the latter’s time as manager of the Dodgers.

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

He’s already lost more games as an NFL quarterback than as a college quarterback, and Carson Wentz says he’ll never get used to all the losing.
 
Wentz, who went 20-3 as a college starter, is 5-7 a dozen games into his rookie year.
 
The Eagles have lost five of their last six games and are 2-7 in their last nine.
 
From Seattle through Cincinnati, Wentz lost as many games in a 15-day span as he lost in his entire career as a starter at North Dakota State.
 
“It’s frustrating,” Wentz said Wednesday. “No one likes losing, especially in this business as a quarterback. 
 
“I’m wired to be a winner. I hate losing. But at the same time it doesn’t affect us going forward. I know it doesn’t affect me and I can probably say the same thing for the guys in that locker room. 
 
“We’re going to come in and prepare and be the same win or lose, because I think that’s what it takes to be great and you can’t waver. You can’t change how you approach things. You can’t change how you go about your business, win, lose or draw. 
 
“But at the same time, yeah, without a doubt. We don’t like losing around here.”
 
The Eagles have the third-worst record in the NFL since Week 4, ahead of only the hapless Browns and 49ers. 

They haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention yet, but it sure seems like only a matter of time.
 
Since building a 3-0 record, the Eagles’ only wins have come on Oct. 23 over the Viking and Nov. 13 over the Falcons, both at the Linc.
 
No NFL quarterback has lost more games than Wentz since Week 4. Wentz and Blake Bortles are both 2-7 during that stretch and Sam Bradford is 3-6.
 
North Dakota State went 71-5 with five national championships during Wentz’s five years in Bismarck, North Dakota. As a starter, he was 15-1 as a junior, including the postseason, then went 5-2 during an injury-marred senior year, although for a second straight year he led the Bison to the FCS national title.
 
So he’s not used to losing. Not at all. Not like this.
 
“You get in the locker room and it’s kind of a down feeling,” he said. “A lot of you guys are in the locker room after the game. They’re tough. You don’t like losing, no one does. Especially on the road having to get on the plane or the bus or whatever and come back home. 
 
“But you get over it. You turn on the tape and you learn from it. But right after you watch that tape, it’s on to the next. That’s kind of the nature of this league and that’s how you have to approach it.”

Fortunately, the Eagles have an expert on just this subject in the NovaCare Complex. 
 
Doug Pederson pointed out Wednesday he was a part of some really bad teams, and he said that gives him an ability to relate to Wentz on how to endure all the losing.
 
“In Cleveland we were 3-and-13 (in 2000), and then Philadelphia, my first year, being 5-and-11,” said Pederson, who was also an assistant coach on a 4-12 Eagles team in 2012. 
 
“Just kind of leaning back on those experiences and how we fought through. How we fought through adversity. How people try to divide the team or say negative things about players or whatever. We just kind of kept that thing nice and tight. 
 
“So those are things that I can lean back, when you talk about the experience factor. I lean back on those experiences to relay to Carson how we went about our business during those following weeks to come and kept that team together. 
 
“We had great leadership on the team, like we do now. With him, it's just a matter of keeping him grounded, keeping him level headed. He's a leader of this football team, and he doesn't have to do it all himself. That's the beauty of it. There are 10 other guys on offense, and 11 on defense, and special teams that have a big part in this whole process.”
 
Wentz has been going non-stop for almost a year now. From the FCS title game to combine prep to draft prep to OTAs and minicamps to training camp and now heading into Week 14 of the regular season.
 
But he said he doesn’t feel any signs of burn-out or fatigue. Although his numbers have dipped over the past couple months, he said he feels fresh and upbeat going into the final quarter of the season, which begins with the Redskins at the Linc on Sunday.
 
“I feel good,” he said. “I think it comes down to: Do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you’re around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it’s part of the process. 
 
“For me, there’s no more school to go to during the day. It’s just football all day every day and I love that. It’s been a lot of fun and by no means is it wearing on me in a negative way.”
 
What about his numbers? The stats are not pretty. 
 
Games 1 through 4: 67 percent completion, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 103.5 passer rating, 3-1 record.
 
Games 5 through 8: 61 percent completion, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 72.4 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Games 9 through 12: 61 percent completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 68.3 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Wentz shrugs it all off. 
 
“We’re all a work in progress. every quarterback in this league I think would say that,” Wentz said.
 
“You’re never a finished product, myself included. So you’re always analyzing different things you can do, from pocket movement to footwork. You’re always analyzing those things. So we talk about those things but we don’t harp on it. 
 
“Myself and really just everybody, we’ve just got to be better disciplined to things. Whether that’s alignment or pre-snap things, from recognition, from reads, you name it. We just all have to be disciplined. Really just execute better. It starts with me. Control our mistakes and that goes for everybody, myself first and foremost.
 
“We now what we’re capable of, I think everyone in the building does. We just have to get over the hump a little bit here.”