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

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — How much of a horse is Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov?

Well, consider this:

The 19-year-old logged a game-high 28:48 of ice time Monday night during the Flyers' 2-0 split-squad loss to the Devils in which he also quarterbacked the first-unit power play (8:03) and had the most penalty kill time (3:58) (see story).

“I thought I played well,” Provorov said. “It took me a few shifts to get into the game. I competed as hard as I could.”

He said he was used to playing more than 25 minutes in Brandon (WHL), anyway.

“Of course, this is a better league, high pace and it will take a few games to adjust,” Provorov said.

Because the Flyers have yet to work on power play, the results aren’t there. They were 0 for 7 in the game.

“We haven’t done anything on the ice, but have done some video on the PK on the board but nothing on the power play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s other priorities now with so many players (64) in camp.”

Provorov worked both points on the power play and had just one official shot in the game.

“We didn’t get to do much power play [in camp],” he said. “It will get better as the preseason goes on.”

Rookie forward Travis Konecny worked the low slot on the top power play. He logged 18:34 of ice time, including 6:01 PP time. Konecny had two shots in the game.

He was on Andy Miele’s line with Scott Laughton. Konency had the only shots on his line.

Hakstol said Konecny and Provorov each “settled in” as the game went on. Hakstol isn’t sure if one or both will play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders.

Konecny’s body language in camp exudes confidence unlike a year ago when he was skittish in his first-ever Flyers training camp. Now he sits back, takes it all in and has that look on his face of been there, done that.

In fact, he was trying to calm down some of his buddies, Anthony Salinitri and Connor Bunnaman, who were seeing the lights before the game.

“Me and [Ivan] Provorov were just talking,” he said. “We feel a lot more comfortable this year.

“I’ve been in this position here. I have my guys Salinitri and Bunnaman, we all hang out together and it’s their first year.

“They’re excited for their first preseason game just like I was last year, but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, it’s an NHL arena.’ I’m thinking about the game and getting ready to play.”

Konecny was impressive last fall as an 18-year-old and Hakstol said he takes everything into account with more emphasis on the now than the past.

“Your body of work includes your season last year,” Hakstol  said. “Includes everything. The most important information is what you do right now. No question in my mind. I take everything into account.”

Take this into account: Alex Lyon is going to be a contender with Anthony Stolarz for the starting job in goal with the Phantoms this season. He was outstanding with 28 saves on 29 shots.

“They spent some time in our zone and had their big guns out there,” Lyon said of being under siege for two-thirds of the game. “They had a few shots but we did a good job keeping them to the outside. No super grade A opportunities.”

Lyon stopped two breakaways by Beau Bennett, one within three minutes of play.

“I felt like a newborn deer and could barely stand up,” quipped the former Yale goalie. “I was so nervous. It felt good to stop the first one.”