Week Seven could be a make-or-break week for the Washington Redskins’ 2017 Playoff aspirations. Every game is important in a 16-game season – every divisional game even more so. When you’re facing the only team ahead of you in the divisional race, and losing gives them both wins this season and the first tie breaker, it’s pretty safe to say that the Redskins hopes for winning the NFC East this year could very well come down to the result of this early week 7 game. Beating the Eagles won’t guarantee them success, but losing to them could drastically affect theof getting to the playoffs via a divisional first place.
That’s no small feat given that the game will be played at Lincoln Financial Field, and the Redskins secondary could potentially have more holes than swiss cheese.
Washington are coming off a hard fought, seemingly-too-difficult, 26-24 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. A win that unfortunately bruised up an already bruised up secondary.
went down in the 3rd quarter against the 49ers, when he was chop blocked. He did not return and is listed as questionable for the Eagles game. He may or may not be ready to go on Monday Night, but it’s safe to assume that he may be a little sore. As important as this Philadelphia match-up is, so is the following week’s against Dallas. He needs to heal up enough that he can’t hurt himself by playing. To compound the issue, Breeland was manning the number one cornerback position because of the injury to Josh Norman.
Norman is out with a broken rib that he suffered a few weeks ago. He will be evaluated later this week, but it may still be a little early to expect him to be available, given that he also punctured his lung. There’s no one in any NFL lineup to come in and replace a Josh Norman, so Washington would obviously love to see him back on the field at the earliest possible time.
As unfortunate as it would be to not have Norman or Breeland against the Eagles, there are still nine games to go after this one. Both guys are an integral part of the Redskins defense, and long term loss would be far more devastating than one game’s result. Bringing one or both back too early for the sake of one important game, could prove costly.
Washington’s secondary problems don’t end there. Safeties DJ Swearinger and Montae Nicholson both left the 49ers game with injuries, though both of them returned. Regardless, both will go into the Eagles game a little banged up. Deshazor Everett would have normally come into the 49ers game in relief, but he’s already on the shelf with an injury. That left Stefan McClure to fill in, but he also got hurt and left the game at one point.
Add it all up, and it totals a whole heap of trouble for Washington’s secondary this week against Philadelphia.
Carson Wentz has led a very balanced Eagles offensive attack, and is fifth overall in NFL passing yards. The Eagles offense is third overall in both yards and yards per game. They’ve scored the fifth most points. Those are some lofty numbers.
Wentz has spread the receptions around to receivers Alshon Jeffrey (24) and Nelson Agholor (20), but tight end Zack Ertz has been his favorite target. Ertz has caught 34 balls for 405 yards, which are 8th and 9th best receiving totals in the league respectively. No NFL tight end has more in either category. He also has four touchdowns.
That’s no small task to ask of any secondary, let alone one that is dipping so deep into the depth chart.
It would greatly aid Washington if DeAngelo Hall was available. He comes off the PUP list this week, and can officially begin practicing on Wednesday if the Redskins choose to let him do so. Keep an eye on that situation as it could help Washington at safety and/or cornerback in a pinch.
The Redskins also reportedly worked out former Eagle and free agent, Nolan Carroll. Carroll signed a three-year, $10 million deal with Dallas in the offseason, but was let go by the Cowboys last week.
It would seem a very tall order for Washington’s secondary, but they do have some things going for them that don’t make anything a foregone conclusion.
They’ve played extremely well so far, despite their injuries. Not only did Breeland shut down Pierre Garcon before he got injured, but so did Quinton Dunbar after he got injured. In fact, Dunbar was arguably Washington’s player of the game. Rookie Fabian Moreau also did a good job stepping in and will only benefit from a few-to-a-lot more reps this week in practice.
While Swearinger and Nicholson might be playing through injury, both have been playing extremely well. And extremely tough. They’ve ignited the whole Redskins defense it seems, and combined with a solid job of coaching from Greg Manusky, defense has not been an issue for Washington this season.
Can they band aid together a good enough solution for Monday Night against the Eagles?