NFC East: Fred Smoot
Taylor's memory will be at the Super Bowl with Seattle's Kam Chancellor. He's a Virginia native who played for Virginia Tech. (He was in college at the time of Taylor's death; in case you missed it, there was news regarding his killer Thursday.)
Here's what Chancellor told the Seattle Times earlier this month about Taylor:
Chancellor has patterned his game after Taylor's for a long time. Like Taylor, Chancellor is a big safety. When Taylor was in the secondary group, he looked like a linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds. He was an intimidating force in the secondary, though he was best as a playmaking free safety. Chancellor is a strong safety capable of damage in the box. At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, his size and instincts allow him to be highly effective in this area.
“He was a big safety, the prototype guy for the position,” Chancellor once told the Roanoke Times about Taylor. “I'm a big safety, too, and I've just always wanted to be just like him. I don't necessarily say I can be Sean Taylor before it's over, but I think I can be just as good.”
“When I first took the job, I hadn't seen anybody that big, that fast, that athletic since Sean Taylor,” Seahawks defensive assistant Marquand Manuel, a former NFL free safety, told Seahawks.com.
Amazing to think that Chancellor was a fifth-round pick. Again: draft and develop. Chancellor has a skill that Seattle has allowed him to unleash. And often times that skill results in violent collisions against players such as San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis.
Obviously the Redskins could use such an enforcer in the back end. But there's another quote from Chancellor that caught my eye. This, too, is something the Redskins need. And it's something they haven't had enough of because of injuries and bad personnel decisions.
Here's Chancellor's quote on the Seattle secondary:
“I think it started clicking a lot more this year. I think it was starting to happen towards the end of last year, but this year sometimes man it's like we don't even say anything, but the movements are just right. It's like you can feel one another out there on the field, or out here at practice, especially with me and Earl with the way that we funnel the ball to each other. We always talk about that. We always talk about both of us running to the ball. If you miss it, I'm going to make it. If I miss it you're going to make it. That's just the mentality we have.”
It's not one Washington has had in recent years. It's a subtle, but huge difference. If a corner knows how a safety likes to play a certain look, he can adjust his coverage accordingly. If the free safety knows what to expect from the strong safety, he can compensate. It's not always about scheme. Could Phillip Thomas develop into such a player? No idea; we barely saw him last summer. Could Bacarri Rambo? I'd be shocked if that happens based on what we saw this season, especially late in the year.
This isn't about finding the next Sean Taylor. He wasn't hard to identify when he first came out; anyone could see his talent. Chancellor is not Sean Taylor, and was not expected to be coming out of college considering where he was drafted. But he developed into a Pro Bowl player. But Seattle also had a clear vision in what it wanted from its defensive backs: big, physical corners and punishing safeties. Earl Thomas is more a ball-hawking safety, but he's the best at his position right now.
The Seahawks have a secondary that everyone would want now. They also have a defensive front that complements this group. The Redskins had it in 2007 with Taylor, corners Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot and rookie strong safety LaRon Landry. They need to find a way to get that back. It's great that they have money to spend, but there are other ways to accomplish this goal. And doing so would help the Redskins not only return to respectability but, perhaps, finally stick around.
The other three teams in the NFC East have extended tenders to players but none of them rivaled the Redskins in terms of purging their rosters. Veteran guard Randy Thomas and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El were the most notable releases. It's not surprising the Redskins would release them, but the timing is certainly interesting. Shanahan has talked about improving from within, but now he'll also have to look elsewhere for help.
Rabach agreed to a three-year contract worth $12.3 million, according to ESPN's John Clayton. It's obvious the veteran center placed more emphasis on security than money by not testing the free-agency waters. The Redskins also released former starting cornerback Fred Smoot as well as veteran backup running backs Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright, who was a valuable specials teams player. Cartwright was also a vocal leader on the team but apparently that wasn't enough to convince Shanahan.
Basically Clinton Portis is the last running back left standing, although that will change via free agency or the draft. Keep in mind that Shanahan is a great admirer of LaDainian Tomlinson after playing against him for so many years in the AFC West. No matter what you think of the Skins' moves, no one can say they weren't decisive Thursday.
"Obviously, it's a day of change for the Redskins," Allen told reporters at Redskins Park earlier this evening.
Last year at this time, the Redskins were paying huge money to defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in free agency. This time around, the Redskins appear to be more interested in creating vacancies.
The Eagles need more from their pass rush against the Redskins on Sunday. In the first game against the Skins, the Eagles sacked Jason Campbell six times and he was constantly under duress. The Eagles only have three sacks in the past two games and they need their front four to generate more pressure in order to help a banged-up secondary. Sack leader Trent Cole (8.5) needs to have a big game against Redskins left tackle Levi Jones. It's a matchup that should favor the relentless Cole. The Eagles have allowed five yards per carry over the past two games, but I have a hard time believing that Rock Cartwright is going to go off on them. I'd be more worried about him in the passing game.
The Eagles will have some favorable matchups on the outside. I know the Redskins have the No. 1-ranked pass defense in the league. Skins fans remind me of this all the time -- even though I think those rankings can be misleading. I like to trust my eyes, which allowed me to see Brandon Marshall running free behind the Redskins' secondary two Sundays ago. And the fact that DeAngelo Hall could miss the game with a knee injury is a major issue. That means that Fred Smoot could end up on DeSean Jackson from time to time. That's a matchup the Eagles really, really like. LaRon Landry better be playing about 30 yards off the line of scrimmage and I'm sure fellow safety Reed Doughty will be in retreat mode, too. Jackson and Jeremy Maclin only need one play to knock you out, so the Redskins have to be on guard at all times.
What do the Skins have to lose? I'd like to see Jim Zorn and his playcaller Sherm Lewis loosen up a little in this game. They bogged down in the red zone against the Cowboys last Sunday, in part, because they went conservative for no apparent reason. If you have a chance to take a shot at the end zone before settling for a field goal, then by all means. Believe it or not, this season has actually been good for quarterback Campbell's development. He'll never again play behind an offensive line this bad. In a few short weeks, he's learned how to unload the ball quickly and how to successfully identify hot routes. I thought he played perhaps his best game of the season in a 7-6 loss to the Cowboys. That might sound crazy, but his ability to keep getting up after repeated shots to the chin was pretty remarkable. Keep your eye on this Richard Bartel situation. The Redskins tried to quietly insert a third-string quarterback onto their roster. I think they'd love to take a look at him soon. Maybe not in a divisional game against the Eagles, but you may see the Grapevine, Texas, native out there at some point this season.
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11 in the Beast.
Can the Giants fix their issues on defense? The good news is that this is the healthiest they've been all season. There's even a chance that cornerback Aaron Ross finally returns to the field. The Giants have paid dearly for not having sufficient depth at safety. If Ross could actually move over and help them at safety, there could be a huge payoff. I also think this could be a big game for former Falcons linebacker Michael Boley. The team pretty much gave up on the speedy linebacker. Now, he has a chance to make them pay. The Falcons lose an important player with running back Michael Turner out this week. Quarterback Matt Ryan will have to get the job done, and he's been very shaky in protecting the footbally lately. He managed games so well last season that it's hard to believe that he could throw so many interceptions. The Giants need to get in his face early and not allow him to find a rhythm.
I think the Eagles will be much better on defense this week. And I'm not just talking about the fact that they'll be staring across from the interception-machine known as Jay Cutler. It looks like Joe Mays will step in at middle linebacker, allowing Chris Gocong to return to the strong-side spot. With Will Witherspoon at the weak-side position, I think the Eagles will look like a more athletic team. Mays isn't a star or anything but he's capable of covering running backs and tight ends. If Sheldon Brown can play through a hamstring injury, I think the Eagles will be OK in the secondary. If Brown can't go, the Eagles are going to be hurting. Quintin Mikell and Asante Samuel are both strong players, but they wouldn't have much help with Brown on the sideline. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott desperately needs his front four to generate most of the pass-rush. You don't want to be bringing a lot of blitzes with the way this secondary looks right now.
Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett needs to re-discover the running game. Garrett said the game plan got "out of whack" last week against the Packers because of some down-and-distance situations. Some of that's true, but he could've done more to establish the running game. What's the point in spending a first-round pick on Felix Jones if you're going to give him three touches in a tight game? Jones is one of the most explosive players on the team and Garrett has to dial him up this week. Owner Jerry Jones pretty much said the same thing this week. He wants to see the other Jones get more opportunities, so hopefully that happens.
Watch this matchup between Cowboys right tackle Doug Free and Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo. I realize that Orakpo's a stand-up linebacker on first down but he'll see plenty of action at defensive end. He's a strong player who loves to use the bull-rush -- and I think that's Free's biggest deficiency. The former Northern Illinois player moves really well laterally and he's what scouts call a good "foot athlete," but he can get overpowered. Look for Skins defensive coordinator Greg Blache to try and get Orakpo in one-on-one situations with Free. The Cowboys will try to counter that by helping out Free with tight ends. If the Redskins pull off the upset, I think Orakpo will have had a monster game. Keep that in mind this Sunday. And have a tremendous football weekend.
I saw the play twice and it looked like Fred Smoot thought he was releasing Marshall to someone. I never saw one of the Redskins' safeties in the picture. That's what happens when you get caught peeking in the backfield on a play fake.
Kyle Orton did a nice job selling the fake and Marshall was 15 yards clear of any Redskins player. Coach Jim Zorn had a mystified look on his face -- and I don't blame him. The Redskins had the bye week to prepare for this team -- yet they look overwhelmed.
We also saw both sides of Jason Campbell early in this game. He made a brilliant play to escape trouble and fire a dart to Antwaan Randle El. But he came right back and missed a wide-open Santana Moss on a fly pattern. Andre Goodman was completely beaten on the play.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I just received word from the Redskins that cornerback Fred Smoot (rib) has been downgraded from probable to questionable for Sunday's game against the Rams. I'll let you know if there are further developments.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
With the re-signing of free-agent cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins took a major step toward solidifying their secondary. Paul Tenorio of The Washington Post takes a look at the Skins' situation at cornerback as part of his position battles series. It still looks like veteran Fred Smoot will need to fill an important role on the team -- and that would worry me.
"Fred Smoot remains one of the most entertaining players on the team, and if you are near a field when the Redskins are practicing, you're sure to hear him talking," writes Tenorio. "Loudly. But as much as Smoot is one of the favorites for his talking ability, there's no question the eight-year veteran's play has dropped off from the cornerback pre-Minnesota.
"Though he started nine games and recorded 57 tackles and one interception, Smoot struggled late in 2008 and was dropped to the No. 4 corner spot by the end of the season, behind [Shawn] Springs, [Carlos] Rogers and Hall. Still, he enters this season as one of the few options to match up in the slot."
The Redskins need either Kevin Barnes or Justin Tryon to emerge at the cornerback spot. It's a position that can kill you if you don't have enough depth, and I'm not sure either Barnes or Tryon are ready for prime time. I'll look into this situation when I'm in Ashburn, Va., for training camp next month.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
In my official role as the Redskins whisperer, I'm often allowed to line up (brief) phone interviews for the blog. You guys asked for second-year wide receiver Devin Thomas, so that's who we delivered. And on Wednesday, he answered a few of your (thoughtful) questions.
|Geoff Burke/US PRESSWIRE|
|Devin Thomas says he's become smarter about his preparation for practice and games.|
Now it's time to unveil what else Thomas told me during our rollicking visit that touched on fascinating topics such as his Google searches (for himself) and his day trips through Shenandoah Valley. For those of you interested in football, we also touched on Thomas' disappointing rookie season. OK, let's get to it. Please enjoy Thomas' fireside chat with the Beast:
[Always start with a softball] MM: So how are OTAs going?
DT: Pretty good. [Jason] Campbell and I hooked up for a touchdown on a double move today, so that was a nice feeling.
MM: Who did you burn?
DT: A young guy [safety Michael] Grant. We got him on the double move, but he still ended up making some plays.
DT: It's huge being able to go up against some of the top competitors in the league at that position. And they give me instant feedback. They'll tell me what tendencies they're picking up on and how I can do certain things better. All three of them -- Fred [Smoot], D-Hall and Carlos -- have the same abilities, so there are some good battles to be had.
MM: What did you make of Jason Campbell's offseason?
DT: I pretty much talked to him through the entire thing. And we just kept working hard together. When things got boiling [with the pursuit of Jay Cutler], I sent him a text to let him know I was with him. He's a self-motivator, and his mind he was still the Redskins quarterback. That wasn't changing unless they were going to ship him off -- and it never happened. People have been playing my abilities, too. Jason and I will have the same little grudge this season. We'll have a little chip on our shoulder, so we'll want to showcase what we've been working on.
MM: Why did you seem to have a tough time making the adjustment from college to this level? You and Malcolm Kelly both seemed to have some issues in training camp.
DT: It was just trying to get comfortable in the daily situations. I showed up in pretty good shape, but you really have to take care of your body. I had to learn the hard way to balance my speed in practice because I went out and pulled a hamstring early on. I can stay out there longer because I'm smarter about how I prepare. I'm a speed guy, so I was basically trying to fly around people all the time in practice. Santana [Moss] has helped me learn how to balance my speed a lot better. He also talked to me about setting up defensive backs. I can be looking inside with my eyes and suddenly explode outside. In college, you could sort of run past everyone. It's different here.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
At least three Redskins players will appear on the West Lawn of the Capitol on Thursday for a news conference calling for the passage of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, which would place greater emphasis on physical education in schools. Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall, Fred Smoot and safety Chris Horton will represent the Redskins and the league's NFL PLAY 60 program, which encourages children to get 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
The group will be joined by obesity expert and founder of the world renowned Cooper Aerobics Center, Dr. Kenneth Cooper. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Cooper on several occasions and what he's accomplished in terms of encouraging people of all ages to occassionally leave the couch is remarkable. And fortunately his son, Dr. Tyler Cooper, will carry on the tradition.
Much like an elite cornerback, the Washington Redskins have a short memory when it comes to free agency. They've swung (and missed) mightily over the years, but they keep swinging for the fences.
The $41 million in guaranteed money for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, though, is staggering even by the Redskins' standards. When you throw in the $22.5 million guaranty to cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the club has truly outdone itself. Perhaps they grew tired of watching the Raiders outspend them the past two years and wanted to regain the title.
Anyway, this seems like as good a time as any to remind you of some of the defensive players the Redskins have "landed" over the years. Our trip down memory lane needs to begin with defensive end Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders. Smith will soon be inducted into the Hall of Fame and Sanders won't be far behind him. But they didn't do any resume-building with the Redskins.
And on the flip side, it's important to mention that the Redskins let linebacker Antonio Pierce walk out the door. The man then helped lead the Giants to a Super Bowl victory while becoming the defensive unit's emotional leader.
But really, I think the Haynesworth deal's going to work out OK. Honest!
Coughlin: We are in the division. We are excited about that. We are in the division. The Washington Redskins are a very good football team, 7-4, coming off a tough road win in Seattle. We had the opportunity to watch Arizona and Seattle and then the Redskins and Seattle. And of course the Redskins have a great running game. They are 14th in the league on offense but third in the league with the running game.
Portis is having an exceptional year. There are talented, big play people everywhere with Moss and Randle El. Cooley is an outstanding tight end. A lot of tight end screens, a lot of nakeds. Campbell is doing an efficient job. He has only thrown three interceptions, which is a tremendous improvement for that young guy. Defensively they are outstanding, third in the League, seventh against the run, fifth against the pass; very stubborn defensively -- showed some new looks up in Seattle. They did some different things with Jason Taylor, moving him around; he and [Andre] Carter working together, if you will. Fletcher is, of course, the quarterback of that defensive team and had an outstanding game against us here in Game 1. Their secondary is really loaded with very good cover people. [DeAngelo] Hall was at it. You know about Rogers, Springs and Smoot. They are outstanding. Landry, the outstanding safety, plays very deep, comes down from deep center field to get involved with both run and pass. [Shaun] Suisham, the kicker, has a very strong leg. They have outstanding return men in Randle El and [Rock] Cartwright plus Santana Moss, the big play player, has an 80-yard return which he was able to negotiate versus Detroit. So they are a good football team. We will be playing in Washington, so we look forward again to being in the division.
How do you compare the way they are playing lately to how they were in Week 1?
Coughlin: Obviously they have made great strides and done different things against different people in order to win. So they are a good football team. They were a good team when we played them here, a very stingy team if you will in that first game. And they continue to do that. They are not giving up any points. I know their scoring average is only in the eighteens offensively, but they are also not giving up many points. So they play very well together.
Do they look more comfortable in their schemes on both sides of the ball?
Coughlin: They, defensively, never missed a beat. There was no change there at all. And I think when you understand it, they tried to utilize the Redskin -- Jim Zorn had utilized the Redskins running game and then brought in his own pass attack. And to me it was never any real difficult thing for those guys. They are a veteran group and they adjust very well.
What did Plaxico Burress' MRI show?
Coughlin: He has a hamstring injury. He will not practice today. He will end up being day to day. Jacobs will not practice today. I expect him to work tomorrow. But today he will not work.
Did you send Jacobs for tests?
Coughlin: No, I don't think so.
Was Burress' hamstring basically torn?
Coughlin: He has a strained hamstring.
Anything you can do to help that along other than rest?
Coughlin: Well they will do everything they can medically to help him. He is very resilient, a very tough guy. He works his way through those kinds of things. So we are just going to have to wait and see. He will rehab as he has all along. He is constantly working on that. So hopefully that can be something that is overcome in a short amount of time. But let's face it, it is a hamstring.
Coughlin: He won't work today.
In Week 1, it looked like this offense might not be the right fit for Campbell. But he turned it around and is his play a big reason for their success?
Coughlin: That would be for you to say [about the start of the season]. I have seen the tremendous care that he has taken with the ball. And that, as you know, with a young quarterback -- that is a heck of an advantage and great growth just in itself. They are doing more with him. He does scramble but he also keeps the ball and runs the ball. And he is a big strong young man. As I said, they are utilizing everything they have. They are trying to get their two young receivers involved. They did the other day in Seattle. They had [Malcolm] Kelly involved and they have had [Devin] Thomas involved.
Coughlin: He has had a lot of big games. He has had an outstanding year. He is a tremendous slash runner, very powerful. He hits the crease as well as anybody. He is having that kind of year. He rushed for 65 yards in the fourth quarter the other day, which literally they tried very much to end the game with the ball in their hands. On the one drive they did have a fumble, but then they got it right back with [Shawn] Springs making a great play.
How much does it help your coordinators and yourself that your team can win in a variety of ways?
Coughlin: Well the one thing is that [we're] just trying to find a way to win -- in this league -- we are going into the last week in November. Teams are all trying to overcome some type of injury somewhere; just the nature of our business, our game. So we all try to just analyze exactly what it is that will put us in a position to win the game. We have had a lot of different kinds of games, no doubt. And last week was a different kind of game that we were able to find a way to win. So those are all good experiences.
Is Landry still playing very deep at safety for them?
That has always been a part of their scheme?
Coughlin: No, they have extended him back more this year, I think. You see that in the league now. It is happening in a lot of places. The safeties are deep, they don't back up to start out with. They are ready if you get the high pad look; they stay back or back up. And if they get the low pad look they come from there. Which is -- as fast as some of these people are -- Landry is and he gets to the line of scrimmage fast. And there is a lot of impact when he arrives.
Do you ever look back at the last trip to Washington? You were 0-2, people were unhappy. Since that time you have won a Super Bowl.
Coughlin: Not really, no. No, we are trying to look ahead. Obviously we know the history of the rivalry. We know what has occurred. They came right back up here and beat us at the end of the season. So we are aware of all of those situations. And just trying to keep current and look ahead.
After his touchdown last week, Madison Hedgecock said he was rowing to Hawaii. Does Madison deserve to be in the Pro Bowl?
Coughlin: He has done an outstanding job. You are talking about a guy in his role, and the job that he has done, he has done an outstanding job. The one play ther
e, the catch was really a good catch for him because he really zoomed in on the ball. He made sure that he caught the ball first and then scored.
Do you find it odd that any one person on O-line could be singled out for Pro Bowl consideration?
Coughlin: It has been a very good unit and we have had outstanding play out of a lot of people throughout the course of the year. The key thing is for us to continue to play well. I'm starting to get -- I don't know where these questions are coming from -- let's talk about the Redskins.
Based on what the Cardinals did to you in the air last week, can the Redskins pick up anything from that on how to attack your defense?
Coughlin: Sure, you can always find something from studying. Well, those are two outstanding players, but that is the Cardinals offense. And we knew full well -- to come out of that game with only two big plays against that is quite an accomplishment. Although it is interesting the different style of plays -- the similarity and time of possession is an interesting thing. But you can pick up something up from every tape that you study. So I'm sure that there will be something that the Redskins can learn from that game without a doubt.
Was your intent defensively to keep the Arizona receivers in front of you?
Coughlin: That was the intent, sure.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Paul Schwartz has a story on the Brandon Jacobs-Ray Lewis matchup in the Post. Ralph Vacchiano of Daily News fame talks about Jacobs-Lewis on his blog. By the way, does anyone know when Gary Myers' blog is being launched?
- Mike Garafolo also decides to join the Ray Lewis party. He wants you to know that Lewis wasn't taking shots at Jacobs. And I'm really not sure how anyone would interpret what Lewis said as a "shot."
- What does the Large Hadron Collider have to do with Jacobs-Lewis? Well, let's ask Tom Rock of Newsday to explain.
- Rock also wrote about how two former Giants quarterbacks are having big seasons.
- Manning's worst day as a pro came against the Ravens.
- Cornerback Fred Smoot is teaching area kids to hate the Cowboys at an early age. He also made reference to the Redskins "beating the Cowboys to death" in Dallas earlier this season. I'm thinking the Redskins community relations department might want to provide Fred with a few talking points next time he heads over to an elementary school. But he was certainly entertaining. Can you imagine some of the conversations at the dinner table Tuesday night: "Honey, what'd you learn in school today? Well, we learned how important it was to hate the Cowboys." The Redskins have apparently asked Smoot to consider using words such as "strong dislike" and "don't care for" in future school visits.
- Here's the latest on the Redskins running back situation from the Washington Times.
- Before checking in with the NFC Beast on Wednesday, Jason Campbell said Clinton Portis at 60 percent is better than most backs at full-strength.
- Our hearts go out to Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, who lost his 53-year-old brother, Leonard, Wednesday evening.
- Fred Bowen is handing out grades to the Redskins. I'm sorry, has Fred Bowen been covering the Redskins this season?
- The Washington Post's Redskins Insider Jason La Canfora provides Cowboys fans with a special forecast for Sunday night's game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Giants coach Tom Coughlin bristled when asked if his team might experience a letdown because of the absence of so many key players for the Cowboys. This rivalry has heated up over the past three seasons, and Coughlin won't allow his players to take the Cowboys lightly just because the soft-tossing Brad Johnson is under center.
If Johnson can't at least pose a threat of throwing more than 15 yards downfield, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will keep eight players in the box in order to stop running back Marion Barber. Defensive end Justin Tuck has an unbelievably quick first step, and he'll try to get inside position on right tackle Marc Colombo. If the Cowboys don't have Jason Witten (ribs), rookie Martellus Bennett will have to help block Tuck. If the Cowboys worry too much about Tuck, defensive tackle Fred Robbins and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka will harass Johnson.
If the Cowboys fall behind early, backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger might replace Johnson. Wade Phillips is hoping that Johnson can play mistake-free football and complete an occasional pass downfield. The Cowboys are coming off an oustanding defensive performance. Look for safety Ken Hamlin to be active in the blitz packages, and I think you'll even see a corner blitz in this game. The defensive line and linebackers have to maintain gap control to slow down running backs Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward.
Quarterback Eli Manning is playing with a ton of confidence, and he'll throw a couple of deep balls early to test the Cowboys' inexperienced secondary. The Cowboys are simply trying to get to the bye. It's almost like they've accepted a loss Sunday, so I'm anticipating a lopsided final score.
This is huge for both teams. You have to try pretty hard to play yourself out of the weak NFC West -- and the Seahawks have done their best. Eagles coach Andy Reid served under Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren in Green Bay and the two men have a great deal of respect for each other. That said, Reid's preparing to deliver a waxing to the outmanned Seahawks.
Without Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, there's only so much the Seahawks' offense can do. Seneca Wallace can move around a little bit, but his lack of arm strength really hinders any downfield passing game. And the only team that can run on Philly these days is Washington with Clinton Portis. Julius Jones has put up decent numbers, but he won't be a factor in Sunday's game.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb will be glad to see Reggie Brown return to the lineup. Brown has been out the past two games with a groin injury. He and Kevin Curtis complement each other nicely and DeSean Jackson gives the Eagles a legitimate downfield threat and a solid punt returner.
It's tough to win at Qwest Field, but the Eagles are getting ready to batter Wallace. With a healthy McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook, the Eagles have too much firepower for the Seahawks.
The NFC East owns the Steelers so far this season. By my count, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked a combined 13 times by the Eagles (8) and Giants (5). The Redskins don't have a dynamic pass rush, but they do an excellent job of stiffening when teams get near the goal line.
Cornerbacks Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs have been strong in press coverage, which will make it tough for Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes to get off the line of scrimmage. Springs is banged up, but the other corners should be up to the task. The Steelers' offensive line hasn't
been very impressive, and the team doesn't have a healthy running back to help compensate for that right now.
On offense, Redskins running back Clinton Portis is in the middle of a remarkable stretch. He has run for 120 yards or more in five consecutive games. And what's even more impressive is it's the second time in his career he's pulled that off. Left tackle Chris Samuels has been slowed by a knee injury, which could hamper the running game. The Redskins love to run a play called "90 press lead" on which Portis starts right and then cuts back to the left behind fullback Mike Sellers. If you see Portis tugging on the back of Sellers' jersey, it's a great sign for the Redskins.
Jason Campbell is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league right now. He still hasn't thrown an interception in the first eight games of the season. And that's not because he's overly conservative. The Steelers will try to bring pressure from outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. But the Redskins will counter that with a steady diet of running plays.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Greetings from Lincoln Financial Field, where we're about an hour away from kickoff. It's 66 degrees with 63 percent humidity right now. We'll have a high of 73.
In other news, the Redskins will be without starting cornerback Shawn Springs (calf) and linebacker Marcus Washington (hamstring) for today's game against the Eagles. Fred Smoot and H.B. Blades will start.
For the Eagles, Brian Westbrook (ankle) will return after missing last Sunday's game against the Bears. Westbrook came out about two and a half hours before the game and appeared to be cutting pretty well. I still think Correll Buckhalter could end up carrying the load, but Westbrook's presence gives the Eagles a lift.
The Eagles are also missing Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews, but we knew he was going to be out. Andrews doesn't seem to be making much progress with his back, and that's something we should keep our eye on.
Here's the entire list of inactives: Eagles: QB A.J. Feeley (emergency), LB Joe Mays, DE Bryan Smith, G Shawn Andrews, G Mike McGlynn, WR Kevin Curtis, TE Matt Schobel, DE Victor Abiamiri Redskins: QB Colt Brennan (emergency), CB Shawn Springs, S Justin Hamilton, LB Marcus Washington, DE Jason Taylor, T Stephon Heyer, T Chad Rinehart.
Just huddled with a high-ranking member of the Redskins organization for a few minutes and he told me that Shawn Springs' absence from tonight's game caught everyone by surprise. Springs was kicked in the calf during Monday's practice, but he was listed as probable the rest of the week and didn't seem to have any problems.
The pain became worse as the week went on, and he didn't even try to test his calf before the game. Fred Smoot will start in his place. It's a major disappointment for a guy who reportedly came to training camp in the best shape of his life.