The Redskins have forced only one turnover this season, and they have given away the ball six times (four interceptions, two fumbles). The Eagles, meantime, have forced eight turnovers (five interceptions, three fumbles). Philadelphia also has turned over the ball six times (four interceptions, two fumbles). Ball security very well could determine the outcome of this game. Redskins coaches have stressed the importance of the defense doing a better job of getting the ball back for the offense. However, with an injury-plagued secondary and an inconsistent pass rush, increasing takeaways will prove easier said than done.
"Ryan is his own toughest critic. He is extremely hard on himself and he knows that and wants to play better and by playing better [I mean] from a statistical standpoint," Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. "From an effort standpoint, from a ‘want-to,' from a trying standpoint, Ryan Kerrigan's fine. If he's going to keep doing what he's doing, he's going to be fine."
Yes, you can blitz (Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford has struggled vs. pressure this season) but that leaves a weakened secondary more vulnerable. The Redskins blitzed quite a bit last season and recorded their fewest turnovers since 2009. But they absolutely need to generate more pressure to make quarterbacks uncomfortable, something they have not been doing consistently. I like the potential of their stunts and as Preston Smith matures, he'll help even more in that area -- his strength can stun guards inside and his length can lead to tipped passes.
Win and the Redskins will improve to 2-2, and a chance to be tied for the division lead depending on what the Cowboys and Giants do (Giants would have the early tie breaker obviously). Lose and the Redskins will fall to 1-3, and in last place in the division. Not only would the Redskins be last in the division at the quarter pole of the NFL season, but they would be in an 0-2 hole in the division record race, and 1-2 at home. Would that mean that their playoff hopes would be finished? Not entirely, but it would make it extremely difficult to get back in the race.
Earlier this week, the team signed free agent Mason Foster, a 26-year-old who started 54 games at middle linebacker for the Buccaneers from 2011-14. Although the plan is for Foster to see the majority of his reps on special teams for now, his extensive experience would allow him to step in on defense on Sunday if needed.
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