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Redskins vs Eagles: Five Questions with Bleeding Green Nation

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We ask about Carson Wentz, special teams, and more!

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I had the opportunity to speak with Adam Hermann of Bleeding Green Nation this week to discuss our upcoming rivalry game. Here’s what he had to say:

The Eagles are 3-1. Is that what you expected after four games? Why or why not.

It’s funny, because I’ve seen a good number of people say what I’m going to say: I expected the Eagles to be 3-1, but I didn’t expect the record to come about in this exact manner. I thought they would beat the Browns and the Bears, lose to the Steelers, and beat the Lions. I figured the Steelers, a team in the truly elite class of the league, would remind the Eagles where they stand.

Instead, the Eagles won by 31.

So, I guess if you’re asking me post-Steelers win? I expected them to be 4-0. What a disappointment, this 3-1 team. (That was a joke.) When the season started, I figured 3-1 at this point was a best-case scenario: Carson Wentz would have to be playing well, the defense would have to be living up to Jim Schwartz’s pedigree, and Doug Pederson would have to look a lot better than most people expected. Through four games, check all the boxes.

Carson Wentz got a lot of publicity all off-season as one of the top two QBs in the draft and the eventual #2 overall pick. The Eagles traded handsomely to get him and he's looked great over the season's first month. How do you feel about the trade for the #2 pick and the choice to pick Wentz right now? What do you expect from him moving forward over his career?

At the time, I thought it was the right move, albeit a risky one. Sam Bradford was an established commodity. He is a 28-year-old, good-not-great NFL quarterback with limited upside. As we’re seeing in Minnesota, it would take literally the best defense in the league to make Sam Bradford a quarterback good enough to win a Super Bowl. While the Eagles have a Top 5 defense, they weren’t a good enough unit to make Sam Bradford a champion. And his window of success, at 28, is dwindling.

The Eagles had cycled through enough quarterbacks since the departure of Donovan McNabb. It was time to take the most tried-and-true route to long-term franchise quarterback success. Roseman dealt what he had to — and did it smartly, by divvying up the draft picks he surrendered between multiple years — in order to grab the quarterback he wanted. And Wentz is a prototype in size, skill set, and personality. If anyone from this draft was going to become the Eagles’ Peyton Manning, it was Wentz. It was a big bet, but if you’re not willing to bet big, you’re not going to win big.

At this point, since Roseman has recouped most of the draft picks he’s dealt, and Wentz has looked like a bona fide stud? Eagles fans couldn’t be happier, and I couldn’t be more impressed with how it’s worked out. Sure, we’ve seen players have an incredible rookie year before fading out (sorry!), but Wentz doesn’t strike me as the kind of player who would do that. He’s too consistent in his preparation and execution, too level-headed to let outside noise affect him, and, frankly, too good. I think he’s the real deal. He should be the Eagles’ quarterback, and face of the franchise, for the next decade.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
Boy, do they love Carson Wentz in Philly.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What are the Eagles biggest strengths and weaknesses? What should Redskins fans watch out for?

Strengths? Well, for one, that Wentz kid is good. Really good. He makes throws into tight windows, he can go deep and drop it on a dime (except for his last throw last week). He can roll out — in fact, he might be even better on the roll out. The Eagles’ receivers aren’t anything special, but they have a ton of players who can turn Wentz’s throws into big chunks. Watch out for that.

The Eagles’ defensive front seven is also something special. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan are all having tremendous years a quarter of the way through. Combined with linebacker Nigel Bradham playing lights out as a backer who can cover, and the Eagles’ front seven is likely the best in the division.

Weaknesses? Their cornerbacks are either average, inexperienced, or hurt. Leodis McKelvin can’t stay healthy. Nolan Carroll has been inconsistent at best, underwhelming at worst this year. Jalen Mills is a rookie. Ron Brooks has been less than good. If the Eagles’ front seven doesn’t reach the quarterback in time, the corners are likely going to get beat. Matthew Stafford had a tremendous first half last week, throwing three TDs before halftime. Without ample pressure, the same could happen this week.

The Redskins have been great in just about every area of special teams so far this year. What do the Eagles look like in that department? Who might have the advantage in the important third phase of the game?

The Eagles have been their usual, sturdy selves in special teams play this year. Caleb Sturgis has been a reliable leg, even from distance, on field goals. Donnie Jones is a booming punter, with the ability to pin teams deep pretty frequently. They even blocked a field goal already this season.

The Eagles’ special teams coach, Dave Fipp, is a sort of a folk hero in Philadelphia for what he’s done with the special teams unit over the past four years since Chip Kelly brought him in. I’m sure Washington’s special teams have been good, too, but I certainly wouldn’t give many teams in the league an advantage over the Birds’ unit.

Who wins the game and why? What's your score prediction?

I think the Eagles come out ahead here in a close one. Let’s say Eagles win, 29-23. I just like the matchup for the Birds. I have a feeling that, after last week’s first half ugliness, Jim Schwartz is going to have his defense fired up right from the get go. They’ve been better as the game goes on this season; if they start hot, Washington could have a long afternoon ahead.

I also like the way Washington’s defense matches up with the Eagles’ offense. Run defense hasn’t been a strength, while the Eagles’ offense operates much better when the run game gets going, even just a little bit. Ryan Mathews is still trying to generate some kind of rhythm for this season, but the Eagles’ quicker backs finding yards in between the tackles. I think Doug Pederson, who likes to run the ball, will take advantage of Washington’s questionable run defense and grind it out a little bit, mixed with intermediate throws from Wentz to his tight ends. Zach Ertz had a big game against Washington, despite the loss, in Week 16 last year. He plays well against Washington for some reason. I expect it again, in a win.