The Birds are headed down to D.C. on Sunday for an NFC East
showdown with Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, an encounter with
far-reaching implications for both sides – the losers will fall into sole
possession of last place. Exciting!
At this point, there really isn’t much reason to believe the
2012 Eagles could beat anybody, only the Skins are pretty awful, too. Hell,
Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff is actually worried about the infamous Wide-9. Seriously.
Redskins insider Mike Jones writes in his Washington Post
blog that the Wide-9 could actually pose a problem, specifically in the running
game. Washington’s offense uses a lot of off-tackle runs, which of course is
where the Eagles’ defensive ends are rushing from in Jim Washburn’s scheme.
No, these are not just the insane ramblings of a
sportswriter. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan offered his take:
“It’s a huge challenge,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan
said. “They really crash the pocket; they crash the O-line every single play,
whether it’s a run or a pass. It really turns people. It’s hard to get outside
on it. It muddies everything up and pushes everything from the middle. It can
be a tough defense to run on, and it can be a real tough defense to drop back
and throw on.”
I presume he’s watched a lot of film on the Eagles, enough
to know their defensive line hasn’t “crashed” much of anything lately. Philadelphia
is allowing 129.6 yards per game on the ground since Week 5, and only two clubs
have fewer than their 14 sacks.
It’s been the only true mystery on this miserable Eagles squad.
Last year, the defensive line had 46 sacks alone. Teams have countered in a
variety of manners – max protection, shorter drops – but the reality is they
simply aren’t getting the job done.
It’s even more confusing because a Washburn unit has never
failed so spectacularly. While he worked in Tennessee for 12 years, the Titans routinely
featured one of the best lines in football, yet somehow Pro Bowlers Jason
Babin, Trent Cole, and Cullen Jenkins have seemingly disappeared.
But dammit, the Redskins are still concerned. Well, not
quite all of them, I guess. Running back Alfred Morris, who figures to be
seeing the bulk of the carries against the Birds, believes he’ll be fine.
“It poses a threat, but if we set it up, and run like we
normally do, we’ll be fine. And I think even with the Wide-9, we’ll still be
able to get outside of them with the athletic tackles that we have. I still
think we can get around those edges even though that defense is designed to
take those edges away.”
Why not? Nobody else is having much trouble these days.
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