The Washington Redskins' offensive line has been very inconsistent this season, and as a result, QB Donovan McNabb has been taking a beating. I watched that Washington-Detroit game twice, just to see if I could spot anything that would explain why coach Mike Shanahan took McNabb out for those last two minutes. I saw nothing. The pick at the end was a bad throw, but McNabb was under the same pressure he dealt with all game. Actually, the Redskins were only in the game because of plays McNabb had been making under duress. Their offensive line had all kinds of problems picking up the Lions' stunts. It's interesting that McNabb has been the center of a controversy when the team's struggles are not his fault.
The problem for McNabb this week will be that the Eagles watch game tape, too. They will come after him relentlessly. Last week against the Indianapolis Colts, the Eagles blitzed Peyton Manning 22 times. I have never seen so many blitzes in one game, and they were very effective. In those 22 plays, there were two sacks, and Manning was 10-for-20 with an interception. And this is against a quarterback that the book tells you not to blitz.
Philadelphia will give the Redskins' struggling offensive line all it can handle. It could be a long day for Washington because one thing I noticed in the Detroit tape was that the Redskins did not adjust. Early on, the Redskins could get nothing going with the running game or pass protection. Usually a team will then start to keep the backs or a tight end in, something to protect the quarterback. But the Redskins didn't, and McNabb just kept getting hit.
It won't be much better for the Redskins when Philly has the ball, because the hottest combination in the league this year is QB Michael Vick to WR DeSean Jackson. When those two guys are on the field, Vick has targeted Jackson 31 times for 21 completions, 433 yards and three touchdowns. And those two guys make LeSean McCoy a better runner, particularly out of the shotgun. Teams must account for Jackson out wide and Vick's ability to run, so McCoy has regularly found seams in stretched-out defenses. Watch Washington DT Albert Haynesworth against Eagles center Mike McGlynn. That duel could go a long way toward deciding the outcome, because if Haynesworth is on, he can take over a game.
Overall, it's a tough matchup for Washington. The Redskins are 4-4 but could easily be 6-2 if they had made just a couple of plays in a couple of games. They are a team in transition, and they have played like one so far.