Thursday, October 13, 2011
Vick, Eagles look to soar again
The Philadelphia Eagles travel to the nation’s capital this week to take on the Washington Redskins in a key NFC East battle, looking to turn around their season after having lost four of their first games.
Philadelphia entered 2011 with Super Bowl expectations, following a busy offseason which saw them acquire six former Pro Bowlers. But the team is off to its worst five-game start since 1999, Andy Reid’s first season with the team.
After a season-opening win over the St. Louis Rams, the Eagles have dropped their last four games, their longest losing streak since 2005. Another loss would give them five straight losses for the first time since they lost seven in a row between the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
The Eagles have had no trouble moving the ball during their losing streak this season. They bring the league’s top-ranking rushing offense and seventh-ranked passing attack into the matchup. However, they don’t even crack the top ten in points scored.
One issue on offense has been their inconsistency in the red zone. The Eagles have scored a touchdown on just 42 percent of their drives that reach the opponent's 20-yard line, which is tied for 23rd in the NFL, and their four red zone turnovers lead the league.
On defense, the Eagles have been unable to stop the run, allowing over 140 yards per game on the ground (30th in NFL) and more than five yards per play (27th in NFL).
They’ve allowed their opponents to accumulate yards on rushes up the middle like no other team, giving up a league-high 449 yards on those carries. They’ve also struggled to bring down players after the initial hit, having given up 280 yards after contact, tied for the sixth-most allowed in the NFL.
The Redskins have the most balanced rushing game in the league, as Ryan Torain, Tim Hightower and Roy Helu are the only trio in the league to each average at least 70 rush yards per game.
However, the Redskins may not be able to exploit the Eagles weakness up the middle. Washington has rushed for just 120 yards up the middle, the fifth-fewest in the league, and doesn't have a single touchdown run on those rushes.
The Eagles and Michael Vick can look to their most recent meeting last year in Week 10 as a reason to be optimistic for a win on Sunday. In that game, Vick threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, posting his highest single-game QBR since 2008, while Philly gained a franchise-record 592 yards in the 59-28 win.
Going back further, the series has been mismatch for several seasons now. The Eagles have won their last two road games versus the Redskins and are 9-2 against the Redskins in Washington since 2000.