1. We will not run away with this game (not that we have made a habit of doing that lately.) I see this game culminating in the same kind of heart attack-inducing set of plays that we have become accustomed to over the years. I will go all the way out on the limb and suggest that the Eagles will have the ball with a chance to tie the game with a touchdown at the end. So the fact that a field goal can't beat us should make us feel a little better. To put the game away, we will need a play on defense. That is probably the exact thing we should all want.
2. I usually don't play the role of downer around these parts, but I feel the need to point out something that I think will ground us a little bit. In Jim Zorn's first year, we found ourselves at 6-2 and you couldn't have a conversation about the Redskins without talking about the playoffs. If you recall, Jason Campbell was being mentioned as a potential MVP candidate. Our defense was bending without breaking and we had taken down the Cowgirls and Eagles in consecutive weeks. The Redskins at that point in the season had made very few errors. You could even say they were almost error-free to that point. As soon as fit started hitting the shan, we all remember what happened, right? Half of Pittsburgh was kind enough to watch it with us. One difference I will point out right away is that the 2011 Redskins team has already committed the kind of errors that the Jim Zorn-led Redskins proved incapable of overcoming. That said, there is a limit to how many mistakes this team can withstand. Given the secondary that Rex Grossman is facing this Sunday, we could discover that limit.
3. I think that people give Mike Shanahan too much credit when it comes to finding running back talent and not enough credit for having the innate ability to know which one to ride inside of the whistles. This isn't to say he doesn't deserve credit for being good at both, but he turns into part baseball manager on the sidelines. I suppose any good coach tries to ride the hot hand. But indecision, hesitation and ego prevent coaches from succeeding in this otherwise easy task week in and week out. Shanahan not only disposes of preconceived notions he enters the game with, he disposes of any notions conceived in the last five minutes. If he is feeling it with a guy at the moment, he is going to go with that guy, no matter who he is and where he started the day on the depth chart.
A few quick predictions for the game on Sunday:
4. We will not take the Eagles lightly. Previous iterations of this team (under different leadership/management) have displayed wildly inappropriate levels of hubris. I don't think this locker room is buying into anything people are saying about both the Redskins and the Eagles.
5. Each of our three running backs will score a touchdown. Call this more of a hope, but I am looking for somewhere north of 45 rushing attempts in this game. If that is the case, we will see all three guys find the end zone at some point.
6. Fred Davis will lead the team in receiving yards. He should be able to avoid Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for most of the day. If that is the case, Rex Grossman should be looking his way as often as possible.
This week's random thoughts:
7. I am not a fan of touting moves up in the rankings after a bye week. Being better is a lot different than being better off. We are better off after losses by Philadelphia and New York, but we are not better. I suppose the shifting rankings are unavoidable, but I take no pride in any post-bye week rankings.
8. Hmmmm...top ten in numerous rankings? Wow...who would have thought that...wait--let's not do this. I can't do this.
9. Whatever happens on Sunday, we can't allow the Eagles to score quickly early. I think they will hit on at least one big play because that is what they do. But we can't give it up on the first play of the game, or even the first series. That is the kind of thing that snowballs out of control...oh God, I just had the worst nightmare that we lost by 30+ points to the Eagles last season. Did that really happen?
10. I hear that LaRon Landry's goal this week is to not get beat downfield...by the ref. If you recall (picture above), the back judge actually looked like he was pacing or even outpacing both DeSean Jackson and LaRon Landry down the field. I would not bet on the ref in a 40-yard dash, but the posterization speaks for itself here.