Scouting Report: Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Washington Football Team
Matchups, X-Factors, Injuries
At 1 p.m. Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) will travel to FedEx Field to take on the Washington Football Team (6-9) to close out their division series.
With its playoff hopes diminished, Washington will attempt to play spoiler against an upstart Eagles team with a suddenly favorable path to a postseason berth.
Eagles Offense vs. Washington Defense
WR Jalen Reagor vs. CB Danny Johnson: With William Jackson III out because of a calf injury and Darryl Roberts on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Reagor figures to draw fourth-year cornerback Danny Johnson in coverage. The Eagles desperately need a secondary option to complement tight Dallas Goedert and wide receiver DeVonta Smith, and Reagor should have an opportunity to get vertical and capitalize against a short-handed secondary. Reagor has only yielded five catches for 72 yards on seven targets over the past two weeks, but perhaps this week he establishes a connection with quarterback Jalen Hurts, effectively unlocking another dimension to an inconsistent passing game.
TE Dallas Goedert vs. Washington LBs: Goedert’s hot streak ended last week with a pedestrian two-catch, 28-yard performance against the Giants, but the ascending tight end’s best game of the season came against Washington merely two weeks ago. Goedert, who registered seven receptions for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-17 victory, should once again be able to exploit Washington’s linebackers and safeties. I’d expect to see Goedert work the seams quite a bit. Last week’s clunker aside, the Eagles’ passing game flows through Goedert.
Eagles Defense vs. Washington Offense
DE Josh Sweat vs. T Cornelius Lucas: Sweat remains second on the Eagles in sacks (6.0) and quarterback hits (11). The uber-athletic fourth-year pro is ideally suited to be a third defensive end in a rotation to preserve his effectiveness, but in matchups against replacement-level starters, such as Lucas, he’s lived up to his billing. Despite the advantageous matchup, Sweat failed to produce a sack or quarterback hit against Lucas in the Week 15 matchup. He’ll have another chance to pad the stat sheet on Sunday.
CB Avonte Maddox vs. WR Adam Humphries: Maddox has been a bright spot all season, but without much of a running game this week – and the limitations of Taylor Heinicke’s arm – expect to see a game plan devised to pepper the middle of the field with passes to tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and Humphries. Maddox must continue to come up and make sound tackles and close on the ball quickly to thwart Washington’s presumed nickel-and-dime offensive approach.
Wide receiver DeAndre Carter handles kick and punt return duties for Washington. The former Eagles has returned 32 kicks for 814 yards and a score, while yielding 111 yards on twelve punt return opportunities.
Kicker Joey Slye makes his fifth appearance of the season. The veteran converted 6-of-6 field goal attempts with a long of 46 yards and is 7-of-8 on extra point attempts (87.7=5%). Twelve of his 18 kickoffs have been touchbacks. Punter Tress Way has logged 2,656 yards on 54 punts (49.2 yards per punt).
Safety Troy Apke (318 snaps) and linebacker David Mayo (283) represent the nucleus of coordinator Nate Kaczor’s unit.
For Philadelphia, wide receiver Jalen Reagor serves as the kick and punt returner. He has managed 255 yards on twelve kick returns and 220 yards on 30 punt return opportunities.
Jake Elliott is 26-for-29 on field goal opportunities (89.7%) and 40-for-40 on extra point attempts. Fifty-five of his 85 kickoffs have been touchbacks. Punter Arryn Siposs has accrued 2,255 yards on 50 punts (45.1 yards per punt).
Cornerbacks Andre Chachere (315 snaps) and Zech McPhearson (294), and linebacker Shaun Bradley (277) serve as core members for special teams coordinator Michael Clay’s unit.
The Eagles have won each of their last three games and has compiled a 6-2 record since Week 8. Philadelphia also boasts the league’s top-ranked rushing offense (163.2 yards per game) and are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for most rushing touchdowns (22). The Eagles are just 160 rushing yards shy of eclipsing its single-season team rushing record (2,607 in 1949).
Eagles RB Boston Scott: Whenever the Eagles seem to call Scott’s number, the reserve running back delivers. With Miles Sanders on the mend, and with Jordan Howard nursing a shoulder injury, the Eagles will once again turn to Scott to anchor the running game down the stretch. Though diminutive in stature, Scott runs with good pad level and adequate power between the tackles. Perhaps most notably, the Eagles have entrusted Scott in the red zone, most recently on a three-yard touchdown run that ultimately turned the tides in last week’s triumph over the Giants. The Eagles have found a successful blueprint offensively and can ill-afford to abandon the run-heavy approach in exchange for a notoriously volatile passing game with playoff positioning on the line.
Washington WR Adam Humphries: Humphries season totals aren’t going to blow you away – 38 receptions for 368 yards and two touchdowns on 58 targets – but he notably garnered a half-dozen targets in the Week 15 meeting with backup Garrett Gilbert at the helm. Humphries has the route-running prowess to find the openings in zone and can serve as an effective chain-mover, but he typically won’t win vertically. With Heinicke under center – and without running back Antonio Gibson – expect a much more efficient aerial attack from Washington, particularly one that exploits the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, which has been a sore spot for the Eagles’ pass defense.
Washington was dealt a huge blow Friday, placing running back Antonio Gibson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. However, this year’s version of the NFL has served as a constant reminder that it’s very much week-to-week. Nothing is assured. That said, while I’m not expecting a triumph in the vain of the decisive landslide that Dallas handed Washington last Sunday, I foresee another double-digit victory from a motivated Eagles team.
Eagles 27, Washington 17
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.